Espressology Founder Instaurator on the value of single origin coffees


Single origin coffees are more than just a menu ‘add-on’. Espressology Founder Instaurator shares his thoughts on these flavour-fuelled coffees and their value in the café market.

In today’s competitive coffee landscape, cafés must offer a point of difference to their next-door neighbour. For some, it’s the roaster brand itself, and for others, it’s the single origins on the bar.

While Espressology Founder Instaurator admits single origin coffees are not “going off the charts”, with 90 per cent of coffee orders still milk-based, their presence in the market is growing.

“Ten or even five years ago, it was rare to see dairy alternatives as part of a café’s staple offering. Now, it’s almost standard for a café to house six different dairy and dairy alternate options,” he says. “It’s the same with tea. Back in the day, black tea was the only option available in Australia until we started importing the Scottish equivalent to Twinings with about 20 different teas to choose from. These examples of growth are a sign of a mature market. It means we have to differentiate the product offering.”

And that’s how Instaurator feels about the emergence of single origin coffees, with the attraction largely driven by a younger, more experimental demographic who enjoy tasting filter coffees, exploring unique flavour profiles, and telling their friends about it.

“Normally, what happens in a social setting is that there’s one coffee fanatic who knows where the best coffee is. They have a bit of pull over the group as to the next café to visit based on their reputation for coffee quality or single origins. So, while everyone else in the group enjoys their latte, they are drawn to an exotic single origin,” Instaurator says. “The sale of this one single origin coffee means it won’t become the bread and butter of the café, but it’s the fact that it enticed an entire social group over that brings value to the café.”

Jose Gomez of Finca La Bendicíon partners with Scion Coffee to reach new Australian customers.

Because single origins are mostly supplied in a limited volume, Instaurator says it can actually encourage cafés to drive their exclusiveness as a means of buying power. For example, advertising “an amazing Guatemalan micro lot with only 10 kilograms available while stock lasts” on social media is an inexpensive way to draw customers in to try something different.

Espressology offers the same incentive to its private label customers, often for a blind cupping to explore different single origin samples. At any one time Espressology has 12 to 15 rotating single origins available, but if a customer has a specific coffee or origin in mind, the team will use their widespread contacts to source it.

“We’re really open to playing the field, helping our customers discover new tastes and origins,” Instaurator says.

Espressology has installed a new 20-kilogram roaster from Mark Beattie of Coffee Roasters Australia to specially roast single origins. It can profile five to 20 kilograms on this roaster, and up to 60-kilogram batches on its 120-kilogram roaster.

“We have all the growth levels available to help customers produce small volumes of single origins and be able to replicate that volume as they grow,” Instaurator says.

He adds that, although many roasters are passionate about buying coffee direct at origin, such decisions can become personally and logistically challenging to arrange. Instaurator recalls his first Cup of Excellence (CoE) in Guatemala and being swamped by farmers wanting a sale.

“Emotionally, it was really hard. The farmers were desperate to get buyers and I couldn’t commit to every single person’s coffee. Buying direct involves a lot of relationship maintenance. As a coffee roaster, you need to outsource some of that management if you want to be good as you grow,” he says.

Scion Coffee imports single origin coffee from El Guatalón Estate in Guatemala.

Someone who’s grown in his own right is former Espressology head roaster of 10 years John Tucker, who has started his own green bean importing business, Scion Coffee. Keen to spread his entrepreneurial wings, John attended the 2019 CoE in Honduras as an observer before spending one year building relationships with local producers.

“I’ve always wanted to bring unique coffees into the Australian market, and like Espressology, I aim to take the hard work out of buying direct for roasters, give them more ownership of their coffee by connecting them with producers at origin, and at the same time free them up to spend more time growing their business,” John says.

Already, he’s working with producers from the Esquipulas and Santa Rosa regions of Guatemala, sourcing Pacamara coffees from third-generation farmer and 20th placed 2021 CoE winner Willy Juarez of El Guatalón estate, Jose Gomez of Finca La Benicíon, and Geishas, washed coffees and AnaCafé 14 from Celeste Fumagalli’s farm Finca El Aceituno.

John is hopeful of returning to Latin American next year to continue building on relationships and bring in some interesting lots from Honduras, El Salvador, and other regions of Central and South America.

“I’m excited to be working with a small number of producers who haven’t yet entered the Australian market, so there’s the opportunity for exclusivity for their coffees. No one likes seeing repeated origin coffees at competing places. If a roaster wants a real point of difference, then there’s definitely options for them,” John says.

“From my years of roasting with Espressology I know that some people appreciate a solid washed coffee that’s predictable and repeatable. Others want something bold and different, and some want wild options like natural or anaerobic fermentation. I try to cater to everyone and bring in lots of different varietals and coffees with experimental processes. I can’t wait for people to try them.”

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This article appears in the August 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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