roasting experts

Growing a coffee business while leaving roasting to the experts

BeanScene speaks to Espressology customers Coffee Port and Doppio or Nothing Espresso on the advantages of growing their business while leaving the variables of roasting to the experts. 

When Jeff Weber is interested in something, he dives in headfirst, wanting to know everything he can about the subject. When he bought his first Breville coffee machine, he jumped on YouTube to learn everything about making coffee. And when he thought seriously about starting his own coffee business, he spent three months planning how it could work, nine months perfecting the location, and 10 months on his business model.

Formerly a personal trainer of six years, and a marina manager for two, Jeff sent a survey to friends and family before making his café debut, asking what they liked and didn’t like when they ordered coffee. The responses favoured quality and consistency, so when Jeff found his ideal 20-square-metre shop front in Terrigal, New South Wales, he implemented procedures and techniques to minimise such variables. 

To help achieve an even higher coffee standard, Jeff was introduced to Espressology Founder Instaurator or “Ini” as he’s more widely known. The pair stayed in contact. Jeff read Instaurator’s books, and they would catch up at least once a week to talk about their love for coffee and business.

“Ini and I have spent a tonne of time together. He’s been a mentor in helping me get my business off the ground,” Jeff says.

So when it came to managing his coffee roasting, Jeff knew there was only one person to handle that side of the business.

“I went down to the Espressology premises and met the team. It really did feel like I was entering my own roastery,” Jeff says. “There are so many variables with coffee, which is what I love about it. It’s an infinite subject, but I decided to leave the big job of roasting to the experts and focus on the business side of things. I simply order my volume of beans for the week ahead. It takes me two minutes, and I know what turns up from Espressology will always be consistent and reliable.”

roasting experts
Stewart Clark of Doppio or Nothing Espresso (second from left) partnered with Espressology to allow him more time to do the things he loves.

Espressology Client Services Director Rob Murrell calls Jeff regularly to check in and discuss customer feedback and the monthly single origin program.

The other advantage, Jeff says, is the freedom to buy his own equipment and build his own blend recipe without a lock-in contract.

“I still have control over the product I serve my customers,” Jeff says. “For instance, many cafés in the area use two-bean Arabica blends, so I’ve got Robusta in my private blend, and this really gives our customers the kick they’re seeking. It’s a bold flavour profile that’s punchy and complex, and it really sets us apart.”

And Jeff needs to. There are 16 coffee shops in the 200-metre radius of Coffee Port, however it’s the only one that is “coffee centric”, serving coffee and only coffee. The point of difference is working. Since Coffee Port opened its doors in 2019, it’s gone from using eight kilograms of coffee per week to 32.

“Because of our location we’ve been incredibly lucky. Sales have increased month on month, which has been a benefit to us and Espressology,” Jeff says. “I’m loving the technical side of the business and the amazing people I get to meet. I don’t think I’ll get bored any time soon.”

Someone else who never tires from his day job is Stewart Clark of Doppio Or Nothing Espresso (DONE). Stewart works to live, and at the core are relationships determined by who Stewart can enjoy a laugh, beer, surf, great meal, or camping trip with – or all combined if time permits.

Thankfully, the team at Espressology made the cut. When it comes time for a corporate meeting with the roasting team, there’s no office setting or structured agenda. Instead, the team pack their cars for a camping trip to Point Plomer near Port Macquarie – with their surfboards and fishing rods always on top – and talk coffee. 

“The support, knowledge, and flexibility the Espressology team has given me is just amazing. In fact, we recognise them as part of our business. They are our roasting team,” Stewart says. “Some people may partner with Espressology to help them grow financially, but why I did, is because I wanted more time – time to spend with my family, friends, and doing the things I love such as surfing and fishing.”

Back in 2004, Stewart was teaching at a local TAFE where he’d set up a coffee academy, the only one on the NSW/Queensland border at the time. He attended a coffee roasting competition and watched a man break down a roast profile just by looking at the physical characteristics of the bean. 

“I thought ‘wow, I’ve got a bit to learn’. That was Ini. I knew he was in the top 10 in the world for coffee tasting. I knew he had trained Paul Bassett to win the World Barista Championship in 2002, and I knew he liked surfing – three things that sparked my interest,” Stewart says. 

“I was looking for a company to do private label roasting for us and got in touch with Ged [Ryan, COO at Espressology]. At the time I was going to Hawaii to help a mate open a café in Honolulu called Arvo. I told Ged, ‘I’ll be gone for 10 days’, and when I got back, there was Ini with his paddle board to see me.” 

Their mutual love for the surf got the relationship off to a great start, followed by Espressology’s guarantee for a quality roast that would allow Stewart to manage his increasing volume and give him the support he needed. 

The real test came when Stewart was given the opportunity to provide a coffee station at the QuickSilver Pro surfing championship on the Gold Coast in 2011. With staff arriving at 5.30am, Stewart had the cart operating by 5am, and Ini and Rob from Espressology travelled up from Sydney to give Stewart a hand. Before long he was making coffee for his childhood surfing heroes Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater, Tom Carroll, and Martin Potter. This dream continued for eight years.

“We had supported Surfing NSW for five years previous, in their regional events, but this was DONE’s first introduction to a surfing championship, serving coffee to 25,000 people. It really was a dream event, the who’s who of surfing,” Stewart says. “That same year I got invited by Samsung to do the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach in Torquay, Victoria, and Ini drove all the way to support us. It’s that level of customer service that goes all the way.”

With the roasting left into the hands of Espressology’s “world class crew”, Stewart has the confidence to focus on providing his own DONE customers with customised hospitality solutions, including consulting services, training, and day-to-day operations.

“We always say to our customers ‘we grow as you grow’. We offer them what we’ve always done from day one – consistent coffee and top-notch service. People always ask us what our marketing strategy is, and we just say ‘we get it done’,” Stewart says. 

“We want to get the best yield for our customers so that they can deliver a consistent product with more dollars in their pocket, so we have blends designed that provide both flavour, balance and increased yield per kilogram.”

Underneath the surface is a dedicated team with plenty of hospitality experience and skills from different segments of the market, including IT, finance of global operations, beer brewer, bartenders/café managers, surveyor, wedding photographer, and a chef that worked on the oil rigs. 

“We can’t do what we do alone, and we can’t grow without our team and the customers who believe in us,” Stewart says. 

Despite a challenging year with bushfires, floods and COVID-19, DONE made it through 2020 with the support of its partners and community. 

“We are only as good as our customers and we strive to be the best support for them, hence our motto ‘customised hospitality solutions’,” Stewart says. “I’ve travelled all around the world, but I reckon we still live in the best part of the world for surfing, lifestyle and coffee.”  

For more information on how Espressology can support your roasting goals, visit espressology.com

This article appears in the December 2020 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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