Inside the Nomad Coffee Group

Nomad Coffee Group

Veneziano Coffee Roasters is just one facet of what parent company Nomad Coffee Group has to offer. CEO Craig Dickson discusses the group’s different arms and plans for growth.

Veneziano Coffee Roasters is a well-known brand within the Australian coffee industry, with multiple Australian Coffee Championship titles to its name. It has a presence in every state, including roasteries in Melbourne and Brisbane, and training studios and cafés spread across the country.

 However, there is more to Veneziano than meets the eye. The specialty roaster is just one part of the Nomad Coffee Group, a parent company launched in 2018.

Craig Dickson, Managing Director of Veneziano and CEO of Nomad Coffee Group, says the new identity reflects the parent company’s dedication to coffee.

“Nomad Coffee Group is a collection of specialty coffee brands with different roles, interests, and customers. We wanted to establish an overarching identity for a couple of reasons,” Craig says. “Firstly, to connect our brands via common goals and values, but also let them stand up on their own and in their own space. Secondly, we wanted to unify our people and provide them endless opportunities to explore and build a meaningful career in the specialty coffee space, demonstrating our merit as an employer of choice. Nomad Coffee Group lets us do that.

“Ultimately, the parent company needed to epitomise specialty coffee. That’s what we’re all about and we want to remain true to that as we grow.”

The group takes its name from the nomadic shepherds of Arabia who first discovered coffee beans growing on the hills where they grazed their flocks.

“In looking for a name, we explored the commonly known and respected history of coffee – ensuring that we leveraged a belief the world shared,” Craig says. “Nomads were the original coffee drinkers, so we felt it a great term to explain the adventurous and exploratory nature of our business and our people.”

Craig says the values shared across Nomad Coffee Group include integrity and trust, people and community, knowledge and curiosity, a winning culture, collaboration, and sustainability. 

Craig Dickson is the Managing Director of Veneziano Coffee Roasters and CEO of Nomad Coffee Group.

“These have underpinned the success of Veneziano since we started it almost 20 years ago,” he says. “Now, we’ve been able to take that to a broader group level and share these values across each brand.”

Another of Nomad Coffee Group’s brands is Black Bag Roasters, a contract roaster launched in 2015,and led by General Manager Lance Brown, an accredited World Latte Art Championship Judge. 

Black Bag Roasters offers large retailers, franchises, and catering companies the opportunity to utilise the group’s specialty expertise to develop their own blends and packaging. 

“We saw an opportunity in the marketplace for people wanting access to specialty coffee roasters, talent, and the approach we take to coffee,” Craig says. “Black Bag Roasters has a range of customers. Some choose specialty and others pick high-grade commercial coffee. They can choose their price point by deciding what quality of green they have in their blend.” 

Craig says Black Bag Roasters applies the skills and knowledge of a specialty roastery to large volume contract roasting and is one of the few in its field to offer post-blending capabilities. 

“Most contract roasters use a fairly automated closed system, where green beans go in one end and a bag comes out the other,” he says. “The advantage of Black Bag Roasters is that it’s still artisanal. The guys stand at the roaster and watch and track every batch.” 

Despite sharing an appreciation for the craft of specialty coffee, Craig feels it’s important the two brands maintain separate identities and value propositions. 

“Veneziano roasts at a smaller scale. All blends and microlots are strictly specialty coffee and it provides value beyond the bag, like barista training and operational service,” he says.

“On the other hand, Black Bag Roasters has the ability to scale to larger volumes and build blends to suit the customer’s need and budget.”

With Black Bag Roasters catering to large-scale clients and Veneziano focusing on cafés and restaurants, Craig felt there was an opportunity for the group to go direct to the consumer. Coffee Hit was established for this purpose. While initially an online business, Coffee Hit opened its first physical store in Westfield Doncaster more than a decade ago. 

“Westfield approached us and asked if we wanted to put a roaster in the middle of the shopping centre. We thought it was ridiculous at first, but it has worked really well,” Craig says. 

Coffee Hit follows a franchise model, and roasts coffee instore at its 12 locations in shopping centres across Australia. 

Nomad Coffee Group
Coffee Hit began as an online business that now includes 12 franchises across Australia.

“We train each store owner on how to roast, and every time we introduce a new coffee, a member of the Nomad roasting team visits the store to set the profiles,” Craig says. “Soon, we’ll be able to dial in from our Richmond headquarters and upload the profiles direct to their systems.”

Craig believes while there is much talk of oversaturation in the Australian market, there is a growing demand from suburban and rural areas for specialty coffee.  

“Consumers understand if you go to a specialty outlet, you get a much better coffee experience. When they’re at work in the city, they’ve got access to specialty, then at home in their shopping centre, it’s not there,” he says. 

“Even the landlords are challenging franchises to step it up. They want their retailers to be experience-based and specialty, which is why independent operators like Axil are thriving in centres like Chadstone.” 

While Craig is sure there is room for growth in Australia, Nomad Coffee is exploring overseas for further investment. 

“We have an ambitious growth program and want to grow more outside of Australia. Recently, we partnered with a New Zealand business called Flight Coffee,” Craig says. 

“We were looking at how to expand into other markets and have known the Flight Coffee guys for some time, so knew our values aligned. There were clear synergies of both companies pushing to achieve similar results.” 

Flight Coffee rose to international prominence in 2013, when co-founder Nick Clark placed fifth in the World Barista Championship (WBC). The team at Flight are big supporters of the global industry, Co-founder Richard Corney a respected WBC judge and other team members participating in groups such as Coffee Quality Institute and Specialty Coffee Association.

“We have a lot of respect for the Flight Coffee team and think they’re one of the leaders of specialty coffee in NZ,” Craig says. 

“We’ve grown a successful business here and we are now sharing information between Flight Coffee and our people. We believe with our systems, processes, and access to talent, we’re able to help them soar.” 

Nomad Coffee Group has plans to extend its reach beyond the Southern Hemisphere, as far as Europe and North America. 

“We’re currently looking at a roastery in Asia and for potential investments in the United Kingdom and  United States,” Craig says. “It’d be hard to start Veneziano from scratch in a new market. We’d rather invest in an existing business and help it reach its next level.” 

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

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