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The People Behind The Brands: Tony Papas, Allpress Espresso

Having started life as a coffee cart in 1989, Allpress Espresso now works with over 1000 independent coffee shops across the globe. Their growth is a testament to power of human connections, from individually training each barista that serves their coffee to making sure the machines they use are designed with flavour in mind.

In February 2020, we spoke to Tony Papas, Managing Director of Allpress Espresso about the increasing importance of sustainability in the coffee world.

What is Allpress' purpose or mission statement?

We exist to unite independent thinkers; people, flavour and innovation are how we achieve it.

How has the brand's purpose changed since the company was first founded?

The biggest change is that we are much better at telling our story now, and we’re able to articulate what Allpress has been about since day one. We’ve always had radical partnerships with independent thinkers, all of the café entrepreneurs we work with around the world fit into that category as do our most important brand partners. Brands like La Marzocco, who we have been working with since 1992. Flavour, and the experience that flavour creates, is how we have always connected with these people. Innovation refers to the fact that we have never stopped trying to create an ever greater flavour experience.

We’ve continued innovating in order to diversify our sales offering. The current climate demands it even more than normal, really. Things like our Cold Coffee Range, Compostable Packaging, and Capsules which are in the works. These are all things we’ve been working on for a while and feel like now is the right time to bring them to market.

Do you think that wellness is becoming a way of life for your customers, and how does sustainability play into this?

Fitness and wellness have been in and around my life for the past 50 years. In New Zealand and Australia, surfing and outdoor culture have really had an impact on the idea of wellness there. In the past few years I’ve seen the combining of a lot of different and new ways for people to enhance their health. People are finding ways in their day-to-day life to enhance their overall wellbeing.

The shift that we’re now seeing everywhere is how the conversations about wellness and the environment have moved away from what individuals need to do, and towards what communities and governments need to do to tackle the issues of ill health - both human and environmental. Cafés often create little communities around themselves and cafés owners are constantly in a dialogue with their customers. This means cafés are both responding to changing habits, and often, leading the way to influence their customers’ wellness and sustainability choices.

What are the greatest challenges and opportunities within your sector with regards to the environment?

For the coffee industry, we should be focusing on the lingering issues around economics and sustainability for our primary producers of coffee beans. Additionally, we really need to be proactive and prepared as we start to see the impacts of the climate crisis.

We’re taking steps towards making positive changes in what we do. We’re committed to compostable packaging, and have been working on replacing everything we serve our coffee in with commercially compostable alternatives.

Our takeaway cups have been compostable for a while now, however it was important we went beyond this and included our bags too. It’s been a long, difficult process to create something bespoke to fulfill this - we tested extensively to make sure the final result could still achieve the durability our customers need and maintain the flavour and freshness they build their businesses on.

What do you think is the next big thing in the world of wellness?

I’m not sure what it will be, but it should be moving even further away from junk food and processed food. I’m saying this from the perspective of someone who has been in the food and beverage industry for a long time. There’s been a lot of noise and confusion about what we should eat since the ‘50s. When it comes down to it, we need to be eating highly nutritious, well-balanced meals like the mediterranean diet was a couple of generations before me.

Junk food is a scourge no different from tobacco products in their addictiveness. It is having an enormous personal, social, and economic impact in so many countries.

What is your mantra in life?

Have a plan, do your utmost to achieve it, but be open to changing the plan along the way.

Who has been the most influential person in your business journey?

There is no one person. For many years I've had many informal mentors who range in age from 20 to 90. You have to listen to people at all different stages of the journey - there is wisdom in all those stages.

Do you think there is a responsibility for brands to use business as a force for good?

You must do as much as you can to be a responsible citizen of the earth, both personally and as brands.

Wellness in the workplace is becoming increasingly important. What does it look like to you?

Until recently it was seen by western businesses as self-indulgent, it’s good that this is changing. It is important to give people the time, space and encouragement to experiment with what wellness means in their life. From welcoming meditation and mindfulness, to encouraging good eating, sleep, exercise. Or just going for a walk. For me the most important thing for people to understand is how everything is tied together by what and how you eat.

This article originally appeared on

Author: Sam Rider

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