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Meet the family: Kirk Hodgson, Stories cafe manager

Kirk is our resident caffeine advisor here at Zeal – more specifically, the manger of Stories Espresso Bar in Wellington. Stories is a social enterprise cafe inside a shipping container, where young people from our Barista Programmes gain real life experience in the industry. We had a yarn to Kirk about coffee, music and beans – check it out below!


How did you first get involved with Zeal?

Kirk: I first discovered Zeal going to shows back in 2006ish, and then got more involved when my own band started out. Zeal was about the only place that would let us play. From there, I started volunteering tutoring espresso classes, before Scott asked if I would manage what has become Stories.

How does your typical day at Stories usually go down?

Kirk: I arrive to calibrate the machinery and drink an espresso before I open at 7am. From there, students arrive at 8am, and we are full tilt slinging espressos and chucking mad yarns with the regulars. The later part of my day looks like ordering, cleaning, admin and then the hour of power i.e. closing from 3:30pm.

What do you do in your spare time?

Kirk: I make far too much coffee in my spare time truth be told. Otherwise I play guitar, have recently started racing cyclocross, and hanging out with my wife.

What’s coming up at Stories/ Zeal Wellington over the next few months?

  • We are currently working with our second intake of students who are smashing it.
  • Peanut butter hot chocolates (you heard it here first).
  • We are also running a coffee stand for World Vision in July for a conference of 6000 people over 3 days which will be keeping us busy.

What are some epic moments you’ve had during your time at Zeal?

Kirk: Watching young people discover their value and grow in confidence is always a bloody joy!
Meeting some of my best friends here has also be pretty worthwhile.

What’s some advice you would pass on to someone wanting to work with youth?

Kirk: Be malleable. You will go through as much change as a young person will if you are open to growth.

What do you get up to in Wellington when you’re not working?

Kirk: I feel like there is always something new here – be it a bar, cafe, walking trail or otherwise. Pays to have your eyes open in that sense.
Of late the Hüttcross race series has been way too much fun. Riding your bike in the mud makes one feel like they are 8 years old again; that is, if you forget about the fact your lungs are on fire and you want to vomit for the entire hour.

What music have you been listening to lately?

Kirk: Hundred Sons, NOFX and Gary Clark Jr.

What are your favourite beans?

Kirk: Typically I’m a fan of a good washed Ethiopian roasted for Filter.
Some of the filters I’ve tried from Small Batch Roasting Co. in Melbourne have been some of my favourites in recent months, particularly the Yamid Quinayas of Colombia.

Read more from Wellington:

“We loved hearing about the passions of the young people attending the festival. The weather was cold and wet, but the young people still had such a great day, and we were happy to contribute to their enjoyment and safety.”

We were thrilled that young people of Wellington got the opportunity to be a part of Exhibition Coexistence, and that we could put on an entertaining event for this beautiful city.