Taste the journey
Today, John Burton Ltd imports high quality green coffee beans,
sourced from more than 25 countries around the world, and
distributes them to New Zealand coffee roasters. The company also
imports and sells bulk tea and tea bags from Sri Lanka, Papua New
Guinea and Indonesia.
However, the story began four generations ago in 1936, when
John's grandfather, Herbert Burton, set up HE Burton Ltd, a tea
importing business. Herbert was joined by his sons, Jack and Geoff,
after the Second World War, and the business grew to become a major
importer of tea, selling it in bulk to NZ Packers. After Herbert
died in 1961, his sons continued in the business, and were joined
by Jack's son, John, in 1979. John began importing coffee beans and
selling them to roasters until HE Burton was sold in 1982 to a
In 1985, John set up his own company, John Burton Ltd, and
continued importing coffee and tea, as well as diversifying into
other commodities such as orange and pineapple juice concentrate,
canned pineapple and sugar (about the time the New Zealand
government relaxed import duties and eliminated import licences).
John's father, Jack, continued to work part time until 1995, and he
died in 2011.
In 2013, John's daughter Alice joined the company, to continue
on the family business culture. John's business philosophy was
learnt from his father and grandfather. He believes ethics,
integrity and honesty are paramount, and that maintaining strong
relationships with suppliers and customers is fundamental to the
development of a successful business. He has continued to pass
these on to his daughter.