InterAmerican Coffee Australia brings a roaster’s perspective to green bean buying, which it’s now sharing with roasters across the country.
InterAmerican Coffee Australia opened its doors earlier this year under the guidance of General Manager Daniel Vella. As a part of the world’s leading green coffee service group, Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG), the InterAmerican Coffee model has worked well in the United States and Europe due to its focus on specialty coffee and flexible service. NKG also saw potential for it Down Under.
“For a long time, NKG had an interest in opening a business in Australia, but in order to set it up, it was important to find the right team that can execute the idea and get it started,” Daniel says.
“Early last year, I connected with one of its directors and we started the conversation. It was a meeting of minds and we had the same vision. When we met Rudy [Huemer] we knew we had the right blend of industry expertise and passion and kicked off from there.”
“There’s a coffee for every palate,” says Rudy, a mantra he shares with the InterAmerican Coffee Australia team as the green bean trader’s Quality Manager and licensed Q grader. “Some people enjoy a complex cup of coffee while others like a consistent espresso blend across the year. We are excited to provide coffees for everyone as long as everybody along the way can benefit from it.”
Rudy brings a background in coffee roasting and was fortunate enough to work with very different customers, selecting lots and designing coffees from supermarket blends all the way to world coffee competition winners.
“From a roaster’s perspective, every coffee that is selected should meet a clear and often multi-layered purpose, whether it’s flavour profile, price point, component synergy, availability, brewing equipment, and so on… I use this invaluable experience in our day-to-day coffee selection process and in my interactions with both roasters and producers,” he says.
“Responsible sourcing and basic respect of human rights and decency is close to our hearts, and anybody who’s worked in the industry knows how complex coffee production is. We collectively ought to be progressive in our approach to coffee sourcing, and as such, we are really excited to bring you our first lots produced with the support of our NKG Bloom initiative.”
NKG Bloom aims to improve the livelihoods of coffee farmers, strengthen NKG coffee supply chains and ensure the healthy future of coffee via a sustainable-sourcing initiative, designed to positively impact 300,000 coffee-farming families in more than 10 coffee-producing countries by 2030. Rudy says NKG Bloom is not a quick fix, but a long-term investment and commitment to the weakest of those involved in the green coffee chain. It aims to do so via a combination of field-based educational efforts, real-time mobile technology, and the industry’s first impact banking initiative.
While InterAmerican Coffee Australia is a local business that acts autonomously and independently, the NKG network connects it with an international supply chain of exporting businesses in producer countries like Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, India, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Papua New Guinea, and Tanzania, as well as a management team in Ethiopia.
“Australia is a really exciting market because of the fast rate of change and innovation. There’s a lot of room to explore different coffees and work in different origins,” Daniel says.
“It’s perfectly aligned with a company like ours that can offer a broad range of origins and services.”
He adds that this network minimises the traditional risks associated with shipping coffee and provides InterAmerican Coffee Australia and its customers with peace of mind that coffee will be consistent, high quality, and landing reliably.
“The coffees we have on offer feature profiles that we have developed with our export partners and growers with Australians’ tastes in mind,” Daniel says.
“We’re not just buying coffee by looking at the price we can get today and what we can sell it for tomorrow. We are taking a long-term approach and building a range with products our customers can rely on. If they buy a Brazil with a specific profile, they can expect the same coffee to be available next year, whether or not they’ve made a booking and locked the stock away.”
This is just one way InterAmerican Coffee Australia has made its service as flexible as possible for coffee roasters. Rozelle, just west of Sydney’s CBD was chosen as its headquarters due to the large number of roasters in Sydney who can visit in-person and may wish to pick up a bag of coffee on short notice.
“Interstate locations are definitely in our plans. In the near term, we will be looking at warehousing options, and in the longer term, the establishment of sales offices and labs in other capital cities as we have done in Sydney,” Daniel says.
“We wanted a location where people could come to choose their coffee, cup and taste with us, and take it home on the spot. Service and flexibility are really important to us and this has been really appreciated especially by the smaller roasters.”
The site includes a fully functional quality lab with all the equipment necessary to carry out quality inspections before buying a coffee, such as moisture, bean density, and water activity. The lab features the first of Probat’s innovative new electric roasters in the Southern Hemisphere and an espresso machine so green coffees on offer can be roasted and tasted as they’ll be served.
“It gives real-life experience. A Brazil blender may not be the most exciting coffee to cup, but it is still critical for customers and shows its true colours when sampled in the right context,” Daniel says.
Rudy adds that this is an important service for smaller or newer roasters, who need to make more deliberate decisions with less experience.
“Usually, coffee roasters might get a 40-gram sample to cup and make the buying decision based on what they’ve tasted one time on the cupping table. For new roasters, that can be quite daunting or difficult. We are offering customers the ability to experience the coffee the way it would taste in the café, so they have the confidence they are making the right decision,” Rudy says.
“Because of this, we are also offering assistance with roast profiling and espresso blend development. We don’t just want to sell roasters the coffee, we want to establish partnerships that are a win-win for everybody. Our commitment doesn’t simply stop at the sale of the bag.”
While InterAmerican Coffee Australia has put a lot of effort into the services it can offer to small-to-medium and local roasters, it has the capability and logistics partners to service those that are interstate and on a larger scale.
Daniel says setting up a new business in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic provided its fair share of challenges, but it also gave them the time to reflect on and refine the products and services it can offer.
“We’ve been able to be more deliberate about what our plans are,” he says.
“This is the second crisis I’ve worked through. When the Global Financial Crisis hit, there was a huge concern about what would happen to coffee consumption, and likewise with this year. But coffee has proven to be very resilient and demand is already rebounding. I’m optimistic about the future for coffee in Australia.”
With InterAmerican Coffee Australia starting to firm its footing, Rudy says the business is looking at how it can share and promote certain origins to the coffee community. Papua New Guinea in particular is one country where the trader sees huge potential.
“We have tasted some coffees that are absolutely outstanding. There are truly some diamonds in the rough,” he says.
“Some lots have staggering Ethiopian or Kenyan-like characteristics to them, and we really want to bring awareness to these coffees. Papua New Guinea is a producing country that is often overlooked because of its coffee production history, but it’s definitely improved over the last decade and we really want to bring this to the forefront.”
For more information or to organise green coffee samples, visit www.interamericancoffee.com.au
This article appears in the October 2020 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.