Black Bag Coffee Roasters is making its mark on the Australian coffee industry. Its team explains how the scalable business is hitting huge strides and why the brand is more than just a black bag.
All great ideas start with a blank canvas. In the case of Black Bag Coffee Roasters, General Manager Lance Brown vividly remembers jumping on a plane seven years ago on his way to Southern India for an origin trip, when he had a vision to take commercial coffee to the next stage. It was a time, he says, when “old school brands” had been dominant in the Australian market for the past 20 years, and it was time to upscale the offering and make a difference.
“Consumers wanted a better quality commercial coffee and I wanted to provide a superior product and a better solution for their overall coffee needs,” Lance says.
Under parent company Nomad Coffee Group, Black Bag Coffee Roasters was created to provide customers with a high-grade quality coffee solution in a private label offering.
For the past seven years, Black Bag Coffee Roasters has been working hard to build its reputation as coffee consultants, humbly servicing some of the coffee industry’s biggest and most evolving brands.
No two clients are the same. For this reason, Black Bag Coffee Roasters specialises in complete, scalable, and customisable solutions that are adaptive to the needs of the market. This includes roasting for espresso coffee and ingredient-based solutions, capsules, and blends, using state-of-the-art Brambati and Diedrich roasting equipment, capable of producing up to 1.2-tonnes of coffee per hour.
“We work with best-in-class partners to do everything from product development to packaging de-sign,” says Shane Harold, Black Bag Coffee Roasters’ National Accounts Manager.
“Some people are very specific about their needs. Others want us to provide solutions from the ground up, from green bean sourcing to product design, delivery, training, and servicing. We can do all that and more, even exploring alternate options such as espresso martinis, cold brew, and ready-to-drink coffee products. Like our ‘Black Bag’ name and ethos suggests, we are the blank canvas to transform your brand and offering. We are here to grow your solution with you.”
One of Black Bag Coffee Roasters’ first customers was Aldi Australia. Lance says Aldi is a pivotal client that’s become a long-term partner. As a result, Aldi Australia is a business that’s experiencing double digit growth year on year.
“The first question we asked Aldi was, ‘what can we do to help?’ It was a leap of faith to take on Aldi’s home brand of coffee Lazzio, do it on a scalable level and make sure the quality is consistent,” Lance says. “We never imagined their coffee category would be so successful. But as they were scaling up their volume, we were too.”
Black Bag Coffee Roasters is the roaster and consultant of the country’s largest coffee-focused franchise, The Coffee Club. It also supports Indigenous specialty coffee brand Waddi in Brisbane, and Sourced Coffee, which $1 of every whole bean and ground coffee product sold, and 50 cents of each pod pack sold, contributes towards farming community projects.
Shane says the reason for the company’s growth across a diverse range of clientele is because of its position as a trusted advisor. “When customers get in touch, we start the conversation. We listen to their needs and present them with holistic solutions,” he says.
Integral to achieving such high standards and delivering customised solutions is Black Bag Coffee Roaster’s star-studded team, whom Lance says have been critical to the growth of the company. It comprises Nomad Coffee Group R&D Coffee Consultant and 2013 World Barista Champion Pete Licata and Green Bean Buyer Jack Allisey, who assist customers with sourcing options while advocating for Black Bag’s commitment to farmer relationships and supporting their sustainable projects.
Black Bag Coffee Roasters has also employed Nick Percy as its Sustainability Manager to ensure the company meets its sustainable goals and is on track to maintaining its growth with minimal environmental impact.
“We know our audience expects a lot from us in terms of our commitment to sustainability, product consistency, farmers relationships and community engagement, so we want to remain accountable,” Shane says.
At a social level, Black Bag Coffee Roasters is passionate about its commitment to not-for-profit projects such as Hands Across the Water, a charity that connects underprivileged and disadvantaged children with homes, food, education, and pathways in Thailand. The proceeds of its Grind to Provide pods and blends, funds go straight into community projects.
At the heart of everything Black Bag Coffee Roasters does, is an uncompromising commitment to quality, which is attested in the 2021 Canstar Award for Best Branded Coffee in Australia which Aldi’s Lazzio range was awarded. Aldi’s Lazzio beans received five out of six stars in the categories of taste, texture, packaging, value for money, and overall satisfaction, also achieving four stars for variety and aroma.
The Lazzio range includes 100 per cent Arabica Fairtrade Organic Certified ground coffee that comes in either Peru or Honduras varieties.
“Espresso quality is everything and we’re really proud this was recognised in the recent Canstar award,” Lance says. “We are one of the most awarded coffee brands in Australia because of the quality end-product we deliver, and our consistency week in week out. This begins with the sourcing of our green beans and extends to our strict quality control procedures through processing and cleaning of our coffee, to roasting, packaging and delivery.”
Lance and the Black Bag Coffee Roasters team welcome prospective clients to come to the roasting facility for a tour, explore its facilities and operations, and simply start a conversation.
“We want people to meet with us, see what we do, and use our coffee expertise to help find a solution for you. We can translate your vision into reality,” Lance says. “We are passionate about delivering products that are different to the existing market offering and coming up with creative ideas to bring your dreams to life, even if it’s just a concept to begin with.”
As Lance testifies, it’s those little concepts that often have the legs to become real life experiences. All it takes is a little vision, belief, and the passion to make it happen.
In fact, Black Bag Coffee Roasters is excited to announce plans for a new purpose-built, large-scale, state-of-the-art contract roasting facility, so it can continue to support its customers as it prepares for future growth.
“If we look back on Black Bag Coffee Roasters in 10 years’ time, I hope we say, ‘we created that and we made a difference to the success of our clients.’ If we achieve that, and can help create this legacy to the industry, then that’s success to us.”
For more information, visit www.blackbagroasters.com.au
This article appears in the August 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.