As founding members of the Collective - a joint initiative that owns Crave cafe and delivers its profits to the community - the guys had been on a mission to seek out a new business venture. Discovering that cider could be so much more than the sickly-sweet tipple of mainstream brands (you know the ones we mean) was all the inspiration they needed.
“I didn’t actually drink cider before that,” says Tim. “It opened our minds up to what cider could be.”
Their first foray into brewing didn’t quite go to plan. Tim dug out a juicer he’d been given for a wedding gift, chucked some sugar and yeast together and hoped for the best.
“It was so horrible,” he laughs. “It came out like, twelve percent alcohol. We ended up giving it away to friends – it became like a party drink.”
Undeterred, he and Nigel sought help from a few local winemakers. With a proper brewing system – and a few YouTube tutorials – they graduated from rocket fuel to real cider.
After pleasing the palates of the Crave 2.0 clientele for more than two years, Nigel said they “might as well” turn their new tipple into a cider bar. And so the Morningcidery was opened: Auckland’s first – and still only – cider bar.
In the two years since those first haphazard brews, the guys have created around 30 or 40 different blends, embracing everything from berries and cherries to fiery chillies. A fermented oak blend called ‘Grandpa’s Armchair’ drew a mixed response (some loved it, some thought it was off). A chilli cider proved just a tad spicy, while their chocolate and coconut brew – aptly named Bounty – was a cheerful fail.
Today, Morningcider has nine brews on tap and a regular fan base. Their core range has expanded substantially and they create two new seasonal flavours every two months. Tim is full of ideas for future brews – perhaps a mango jalapeno? Or something with an oaky manuka-smoked vibe?
With the bevvies flowing and demand growing, their mission was almost complete. The Collective hadn’t forgotten their original goal: to make Morningside a better place and distribute profits locally.
That was how ‘Drink Local Apples’ came about: an urban gardening initiative to involve the whole community in cider production. MorningCiderbought 100 ‘legit’ cider apple trees and tentatively offered them up for adoption.
The response was astonishing: the trees flew out the door. They’re now growing in pots and gardens around Morningside, including three at Eden Park. The team are looking forward to harvesting and pressing the apples in March.
“Everyone who got a tree was really pumped,” says Tim. “It’s such a cool way for people to connect what they’re seeing in their glasses to what they’re growing in their backyards. I’d like it to be a normal thing for everyone to have an apple tree. That’s what I’m excited about: being part of this fun industry and making the neighbourhood a bit more green.”
But wait – the Morningcider goodness doesn’t end there.
Supermarket shelves are now on the horizon. With a little help from local brewing company Urbanaut, Morningcider is currently in the process of mass-producing their most popular cider, along with their Apple IPA. The goal is to have Morningcider in a store near you (well, a supermarket, at least) by the end of November – just in time for Kiwi barbecue season.
After that – who knows? Like a good apple tree, the Morningcider dream is to just keep growing – here and abroad.
“We definitely want to be one of the biggest cider companies in New Zealand,” says Tim. “I reckon we could be this funky little cider that people are drinking in the UK or Berlin... all the way from Morningside, New Zealand.”
With a dream like that, it’s hard to believe this is someone who learned their craft from YouTube. Tim thinks that’s pretty funny, too.
“I had no idea I’d end up making cider. The biggest thing I’ve learned is nothing’s that difficult if you care,” he says. “Everyone can do anything if they try hard.”
Want to try the best cider in NZ? Come along to Morningcider (in Morningside - geddit?) and find out for yourself!
Visit Morningcider's website.