The White Whale story began in 2010 when Ali (an environmental scientist), and Steve (a carpenter) took the plunge, leaving secure jobs behind to chase their dreams of business ownership in the form of a coffee roastery and espresso bar– madness they all said!
The move came with exponential risk, but they were determined to establish the previously non-existent coffee culture in Cairns, with lofty ambitions of taking a leading role in the development of Far North Queensland’s specialty coffee scene.
The first six months saw them liquidate all their assets, selling anything they could to generate the cash needed to fund their grand idea, knowing that banks would never get behind it.
After training under renowned roasters like Peter Wolff, Ali and Steve opened Industry One Coffee in a small industrial warehouse in Bungalow, Cairns. They immediately put Cairns’ first La Marzocco (a four-group FB80 at that!), imported directly from the United States, and a second-hand 1988 LN-series Probat roaster shipped up from Victoria to work.
Far from the flocks of tourists heading to the Great Barrier Reef, Industry One peddled great-tasting coffee matched with thoughtful customer service, and soon grew a loyal following amongst tradies, local businesspeople, and coffee enthusiasts alike.
In 2013, Ali and Steve welcomed their son Lewis into the world. As their family expanded so too did the business, prompting Ali and Steve to relocate operations to the current Portsmith location in 2014.
2019 marked a new and significant beginning for the business, with the decision to rebrand to White Whale Coffee Roasters.
Realising that the Industry One brand was geographically insignificant, Ali and Steve sought out a name and brand that could put Far North Queensland’s specialty coffee scene on the map.
The brain-child of Steve, ‘White Whale’ carries with it layers of nuance. On one hand, ‘White Whale’ is a nod to Migaloo (meaning ‘white-fella’ in the Badjala language of the Butchulla people), a famed albino whale that travels past Cairns on its annual migration. ‘White Whale’ is also a subtle yet important reminder to be conscious of our relationship with and impact on our oceans and our natural environment – an ethos that is interwoven into the foundation of the business.
Over a decade on, our passion remains steadfast – to roast and serve the very best coffee in Cairns, and to provide the Australian coffee community with superb specialty coffee. Through coffee, White Whale hopes to make a positive difference to people, communities and our environment.
Coffee that does good.