Better latte than never - barista reopens business

17:00, Jul 03 2011
james bagrie
COFFEE IN THE COLD: Barista James Bagrie has set up his business, which used to be in The Shades Arcade, in a shipping container.

An earthquake-displaced business owner has set up shop in a shipping container.

James Bagrie, 28, owned The Caffeine Laboratory in Christchurch's inner-city Shades Arcade.

After nearly four months of trying to restart the business, he is operating from a small shipping container in a car park on the corner of Montreal St and Walker St.

"We were allowed to go back into the arcade and get equipment and stuff out, which was great, but then it was just a case of trying to find somewhere to reopen," he said. "There was this mass hysteria to find rentals after the quake, but I wanted to stay close to the city."

Stylus Furniture, which is moving into Walker St premises at the end of the month, told Bagrie he could use the car park. "They [Stylus Furniture] were so great about it ... and it's obviously a huge help to me," he said.

He rented a 2.4-metre shipping container, and started serving coffee last Monday.


"It's just so great to be up and running again. For me, just getting back to some sort of normality was the best thing," he said.

Bagrie's Kilmore St home was damaged in the February quake. He is living with his parents in Ohoka. "It's a bit of a commute. The alarm goes off pretty early, then I get up, bake the muffins, get the soup ready [for the cafe] and get going."

He brings non-chlorinated water from an Ohoka well to use in the coffee machine.

"The people I used to serve were pretty much all inner-city workers, so I went from seeing them everyday to just not seeing them at all," he said. "That's one of the best things about being back in business, seeing the familiar faces again."

However, working from a container did have its downside.

"It's pretty freezing in here, to be honest," he said. "I'm just doing my bit, facing the southerly, and making coffees in a shipping container in the middle of winter."

The Caffeine Laboratory is open from 6.30am Monday to Friday. 

The Press