Why Aussie coffee is hard to find – and why you should buy it anyway

With Australia – and especially Melbourne – known throughout the world for its exquisite and particularly picky coffee culture, it seems only natural that aficionados would seek out beans grown in the home country.

But if you’ve ever gone searching for Australian-grown coffee, you’ll likely come up short.

Australia might be the greatest place in the world to walk into a café and have a delicious concoction thrown in your hand. But when it comes to growing coffee? That’s a whole different story.

Australia-grown beans are difficult to find. We only produce about a few hundred tonnes of the stuff – and yet we import nearly 100,000 tonnes a year.

The Australian shelves and cafes are flooded with produce from the major manufacturers across the world, from countries like Kenya, Brazil, Ethiopia, Colombia and Mexico – among others. But walk into your local cafe, and it’s likely you’ll see no Aussie beans there.

Oh, it exists. We’ve been growing it for 200 years, and in fact, we even produced award-winning coffee during the 1880s, mostly shipped over to Europe.

But why is Aussie coffee so rare?

In a word? Climate.

Coffee grows best in sub-tropical climates, in which rainy and dry seasons are well distinguished from each other Altitude also matters a great deal, with an optimal level of 1800-3600 feet above sea level.

The reason this matters is because coffee needs to grow in one season, and mature in the next. In case you hadn’t noticed – there aren’t many places in Australia where the seasons are well defined.

Melbourne might love its coffee, but with four seasons in a day it’s a nightmare to grow coffee in Victoria. Climates in the other states are either too wet, or too dry.

There are only a small number of areas that fit the perfect coffee-growing climate in Australia: northern New South Wales, south-east Queensland and tropical north Queensland.

But these are only small areas in a big country, and the amount of labour required to grow and harvest coffee in these areas is simply not enough in order to create a thriving Australian-grown coffee industry. As a result, most Australian coffee is sent overseas.

Which is why Australian beans are expensive compared to the rest of the world. You’ll pay around $40 a kilo for Australian beans, whereas others from around the world will cost far less. Those prices are due to labour costs and regulation, which thanks to the labour-intensive nature of growing coffee, are significantly high.

But there’s hope.

More groups like the Australian Subtropical Coffee Association, which represents about 35 growers, roasters, processors and wholesalers in Australia, are making it their mission to promote the sale of Australian-grown beans.

It isn’t like Australian coffee doesn’t exist. It’s just a little harder to find. Groups like Ewingsdale Coffee Estate, in Byron Bay, or Skybury in Queensland, which actually produces its own capsules for Espresso machines, are part of a group of boutique coffee farmers producing beans and blends popping up in Australia’s prime coffee-growing areas.

Coffee has been around in Australia for hundreds of years, and will continue to be – it’s just a little harder to find.

But here are a few reasons why you should check it out anyway.

Higher quality

One of the benefits of growing coffee in Australia is a slow, maturation period for the beans to ripen. This is something other geographies don’t have – and it gives Australian coffee a unique flavour that’s a little sweeter than normal.

Different tastes

As all coffee lovers know, two coffees are never alike. Beans grown in Kenya are different from those in Colombia. Australian beans are grown in different soil, with different temperatures, with different amounts of water – that means they taste different from any other beans, all over the world.

Ethical support

Coffee, like many others products grown in third world countries, can have some dodgy ethical problems. Workers not being paid enough, etc. If you buy Australian coffee, you’ll know it’s being produced in a country with strict labor regulations and standards – groups like Fairtrade also work with Australian brands.

Additionally, Australian coffee has stricter regulations regarding quality control, and many rosters from here invest into their own farm practices. That means you know coffee is coming straight from the sellers, not being gouged by a sales funnel only looking for cash.

Keen on Australian coffee? Head to the ASTCA and check out some of the growers who are selling their home-grown product – you can ever order online from many growers. Give it a go.

Beanhunter Coffee Club – Profile Coffee

Have you ever wondered why a cup of coffee costs $4?

Zach Oakes is the head roaster and founder of Profile Coffee. He roasted coffee for a total of six months before he perfected his roast and officially launched Profile in January 2016. Zach’s only focus in the beginning was to share his passion and love for coffee with others. It became clear to him, upon discovering some miscommunication between the coffee roasters, the coffee drinkers and the coffee buyers that his focus would also be to educate why exactly we should be more than willing to pay $4 for a cup of coffee.

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‘I was standing in a supermarket behind a customer with an armful of coffee pods… The customer and store employee then proceeded to discuss how this new form of coffee consumption was going to save them $30 a week and that they’d no longer have to pay $4 a cup from their local cafe.’

This was the point where Zach ‘realised that we, as an industry, have failed to communicate why it costs what it does and how many people it supports along the way. We haven’t communicated the work that goes into producing that final cup’

Paying $4 for a cup of coffee supports the hardworking farmers working day in and day out to grow the perfect crop. It supports those who handle the coffee to deliver it to a local roaster and those who take so much time to create the perfect roast. It supports those who deliver it to a cafe near you, the barista that creates your perfect cup and the person who brings it to your table. ‘For that final cup to come together, so many elements have to align.’ All you have to do is hand over $4 and drink the liquid gold handcrafted with passion and precision.

‘At Profile, we’re out to tell this story.’

 

At Profile Coffee ‘We love to make coffee, not money’. It is the ever-changing lifecycle of coffee that preserves their passion, keeps them on their toes and drives them to keep working hard with their whole team to create the perfect cup time and time again. ‘If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.’

With the progression of Profile Coffee we can expect to see their roastery transform into a ‘brewbar/cellar door type concept’ where their freshly roasted coffee will be sold and tasting events will be held.

This week with the Beanhunter Coffee Club you will be drinking:

Espresso:

‘MILK#03 is part of our award winning seasonal house blend range. Currently the third incarnation (hence #03) is is 40% Brazil Fortaleza, which provides a super sweet milk chocolate body and helps cut through milk, the next 40% is Colombia Aromas del Sur which has lovely round stone fruit characteristics and pumps up the sweetness in the cup. The final 20% is a washed coffee from Celinga in Ethiopia, which brings a subtle and balanced tropical fruit acidity to the cup that ties it all together. All three coffees in the blend are strong enough to stand alone by themselves so when put together the sum is greater than their parts!’

Filter:

‘Ethiopia Beriti is a super fresh Ethiopia that landed in our warehouse early July. Traceability of coffee from Ethiopia is complicated because most coffee is sold through the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange (ECX). Most of the coffee in Ethiopia is produced by smallholders who, on average, only farm 0.7 hectares. If there is a bumper crop, Market forces can often lead to big price drops, which can make it unprofitable for farmers to harvest their coffee. The ECX commoditises grains, (including sesame, beans, maize, wheat) and most importantly, coffee. In general the higher the quality the better the price, which in turn promotes and encourages continued farming of quality coffee in Ethiopia. What we do know is about this coffee is it’s delicious! Beriti is a microregion of Yirgacheffe, and there are about 460 farmers that are contributors. 85-90% of their production is specialty grade, which is incredible and truly shows in the cup. Delicate floral notes, balanced lemon acidity, all complemented by a white sugar sweetness.’

You can visit Profile Coffee at 1/178 Cowper street, Footscray, Victoria

We hope you enjoy this week’s featured cup. The Beanhunter Coffee Club is the best way to discover amazing coffee- join today! www.beanhunter.com/coffeeclub 

Introducing Beanhunter Pay

We are super excited to launch Beanhunter Pay – a unique way to pay for your coffee through the Beanhunter app.

Beanhunter has always been about helping you find and share great coffee and now you can buy great coffee!

There are many benefits of using Beanhunter Pay, including:

  • No ridiculous minimums for card purchases
  • Coffee at the same price everywhere you go
  • The more coffee you drink, the more you save
  • Build your Beanhunter profile and credibility
  • Find great new cafes through the Beanhunter network

How it works

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Beanhunter Pay lets you pre-purchase coffees which can be redeemed at any participating cafe.

  1. Preload your account via our app or website
  2. Find your cafe – Find and go to any participating cafe (view them here)
  3. Select the number of coffees – When your at the cafe, click the ‘Pay’ button and select the number of coffees
  4. Present your phone to the waitstaff – Hand your phone to the cafe staff to punch in their cafe code

Paying with Beanhunter is only available in Melbourne at the moment, but is coming to more cities very very soon. This feature works when using the Beanhunter iOS App and web browser on any smartphone.

Download the free app

iPhone users
Download the free app, sign in to view participating cafes and start drinking great coffee!

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Android and web users
You can use the browser on your smartphone.

I have a few questions

We have published a nifty FAQ that should answer any other questions you may have. Feel free to contact us as we would love to help you out!

I’m a cafe owner and I want to enable Beanhunter Pay!

Awesome! Head to https://business.beanhunter.com/#/payment, fill in the form and one of our team members will be in contact.

Beanhunter Coffee Club – Beat Coffee

Leigh Mellington, the head roaster and founder of Beat Coffee, expertly made his coffee something more than just a delicious beverage.

‘Beat Coffee’s philosophy is simple – do what inspires you, do it well and always keep pushing beyond. This is the endless search.  Whether it be the perfect wave, artwork, song or coffee you are always striving to find the next perfect hit. Meaning, life is too short- chase what you are passionate about and enjoy it!’

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You aren’t just drinking a mouthwatering cup of coffee, you are drinking a cup of liquid inspiration because Leigh has ingrained his message into each and every coffee bean that he roasts.

Leigh spent 5 years in the USA working in the wine industry and started to notice the growing industry of specialty coffee. ‘The idea of Beat Coffee began to solidify when a series of fortunate incidents led to him living in New York City for a year with nothing to do except cover as much of the city as possible searching for great coffee!’. With his extensive engineering skills in the beer, wine, spirits, water and soft drink industries, it came naturally to merge his love of coffee and it’s culture with his expertise to create the perfect path for his future in coffee roasting. With the help of one of Leigh’s other passions, music, Beat’s message was found and was bought back to Australia where the roastery began in 2013.

‘Life should be about chasing your dreams – an endless search’

Erin Mellington, another member of the Beat team, could arguably be the most important component to Beat since she encourages Leigh while also reigning him in to ‘keep him focused when his big ideas and passion for coffee overflow’. The duo works a bit like this:

Leigh: I read somewhere that in Uzbekistan there is a roaster/brewer who soaks his green beans in the Aydar lake for 3 minutes before roasting, and when cold brewing puts them in a series of wine and spirits barrels over 17.6 hours before pumping argon and nitrogen through it for 13 days and bottling them in bottles found on a sunken Spanish galleon from the 17th century…we should do that!!
Erin: No

The Beat Coffee team have an endless supply of reasons as to why they are passionate about coffee, loving the art of coffee and how every factor of the coffee’s lifecycle impacts the final taste, ‘from the work done by the farmer, to the roaster accentuating the flavour of the bean, to how the barista prepares the final product’, also being able to share knowledge amongst fellow roasters to better the specialist coffee community and of course their ever-present ethos ‘the endless search’ to keep creating the best roast they can, day to day.

Beat Coffee have a great deal of plans for the future to develop and expand their brand, with a coffee shop/roastery on the horizon in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, the continuation of online sales of their coffee beans and cold brew and growing the wholesale business of their coffee beans and the cold brew.

This week The Beanhunter Coffee Club will be drinking:

Espresso: Chirp Flare Blend

Brazil Fazenda BOM Jesus (50%)
Sourced from Minas Hill

  • Region -Alta Mogiana
  • State – Sao Paulo
  • Producer – Flavia & Gabriel Alves
  • Elevation – 1250m
  • Variety – Mundo Novo
  • Process – Natural

Tasting notes: Caramel sweetness

Guatemala Santa Rosa (40%)
Sourced from Origin Traders

  • Region – Santa Rosa, Jalapa
  • Producer – Collection of small farms
  • Elevation – 1350m
  • Variety – Caturra, Bourbon, Pache
  • Process – Fully washed – European preparation

Tasting notes:  Slight chocolate flavor with sweet aftertaste

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere Banko Guititi (10%)
Sourced from FTA coffee

  • Region – Yirgacheffe, Kochere Woreda (Gediyo zone, SNNPR)
  • Producer – 650 small farms contribute to the washing station
  • Variety – Arabica
  • Process – Washed (then dried on tables for 18-20 days)

Tasting notes: Citrus and floral, with nice acidity

Filter: Baby Scratch Single Origin

Baby Scratch is the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere Banko Guititi bean. It has slightly less roast development time than the espresso style to enhance the citrus and floral flavours for filter style coffee.

You can check out Beat Coffee our Featured Roaster here! https://www.beanhunter.com/roasters/beat-coffee

We hope you enjoy this week’s featured cup. The Beanhunter Coffee Club is the best way to discover amazing coffee- join today! www.beanhunter.com/coffeeclub 

 

Beanhunter Coffee Club – Commonfolk Coffee Company

Commonfolk Coffee Company is a specialty coffee roastery located on the Mornington Peninsula where you can find the head roaster, Ryan Toleman hard at work freshly roasting their coffee.

The Commonfolk Coffee Company, started by Sam Keck, believes that a strong relationship with the community that surrounds the coffee, is integral and makes the company unique. For Commonfolk giving back to the community is equally as important as good coffee and good food. ‘As the name states, Commonfolk is a place for everyone.’

For every cup of coffee that Commonfolk sell, 20 cents is donated to a charity that the team founded  called ’The Cup That Counts’ which aims to develop a sustainable coffee industry in some of the most impoverished parts of the world. The charity has allowed two training plantations to be built in the township of Mbale, Uganda. Don’t forget to check out their website to see a video on their recent trip to the plantations!

Commonfolk have future plans to  build a sustainable coffee trade that benefits the communities that grow it. They want to provide professional development for hospitality minded youngsters. And ultimately be able to share their journey with businesses that share their community based values.

Commonfolk’s passion for coffee is firmly planted in their belief ‘Because with coffee you can change the world’

This week with the Beanhunter Coffee Club you will be receiving:

Espresso:

Progress St. Espresso is:
San Rafael, Colombia. Washed
Dolce Cerrado Brazil, Natural
Black Lion Ethiopia, Natural

‘Big and sweet, a clean acidity that finishes this coffee off nicely! we love this both black and with milk our plantations will be bearing their first crop in October this year. We ant wait to incorporate this coffee into our flagship espresso blend.’

Filter:

Commonfolk have roasted the same Black Lion only with slightly less development to showcase the super fragrant, stone fruit like character.

You can visit Commonfolk Coffee Company at  6 Progress St. Mornington, Victoria

We hope you enjoy this week’s featured cup. The Beanhunter Coffee Club is the best way to discover amazing coffee- join today! www.beanhunter.com/coffeeclub