When passersby peer through the roller door and smell the rich roasting aroma of coffee, their inquisitiveness often gets the better of them: “What’s going on?” they ask. “We’re a coffee roaster and café. Come in and try some coffee,” Mel Maksic invites.
Like the name suggests, Co-Owners and friends Mel, Anne Newberry, and Liam Christian have embarked on their own journey to start their first roasting business.
Mel and Anne first met while making coffee together at Queensland’s Alen’s Espresso.
Liam was a regular customer and a welcome addition to the Journeymen team, whose experience in roasting involves many practice sessions on his Behmor home roaster.
Mel has worked in Melbourne with Veneziano Coffee Roasters, and Anne at Toby’s Estate’s in Toowoomba, both experiences giving the keen baristas hands-on training and customer experience.
“Mel and I have always had a passion and curiosity for the coffee industry. Seeing the success of these larger businesses inspired us to start our own roastery. We went to the Melbourne International Coffee Expo in 2013 and that experienced opened our eyes. It taught us that coffee was much more than just pumping out latte after latte. It taught us to focus on the bean, its origin and processing,” Anne says.
That hunger for knowledge resulted in Mel and Anne joining the Women in Coffee Australian Chapter formation where they were fortunate to visit some of Australia’s own coffee farms in the Tweed Valley.
“We made so many valuable connections. The group is a great way to celebrate the importance of women in the industry from seed to cup,” Mel says.
As such, the three have harnessed all their experience to start Journeymen Coffee Roasters, and happily get up at 4.30am each day to spend time perfecting their roast and daily pours.
“When you visit a farmer’s market you always see how much care and respect the growers have for their produce, and we want to have that same effect on our coffee,” Anne says.
Liam works his magic on a 15-kilogram Has Garanti roaster to create the Journey blend. It’s a seasonal mix of beans that at the time of print included Nicaraguan, Colombian, and Guatemalan beans.
“It embraces everything we love in a good blend: chocolate, sweet tones from the Nicaraguan beans – the main player in this blend – body and juicy flavours from the Guatemalan beans, and brightness and complexity thanks to the Colombian beans,” Anne says.
A range of “exotic” rotating single origins are also available, including favourites from Kenya, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, at the time of print.
Alternative brew methods are just a pour over or AeroPress away, but Mel says the MoccaMaster batch brewer is fast becoming a firm favourite.
Coffee remains the number one focus at Journeymen, but for peckish customers, locally baked salted chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies are a daily winner.
The small warehouse space embraces an industrial feel with an espresso bar at the front, and roaster at the back.
“People love looking at the roaster. They know coffee gets roasted but they don’t often see it in practice, so it’s a great way for people to understand the process of coffee production a bit more,” Mel says.
Journeymen is located in the light industrial neighbourhood of Miami. It attracts early birds after their morning surf, and a strong local following of coffee lovers throughout the day.
“When people come to Journeymen we want them to feel comfortable to come inside and be curious. So many times we’ve been cupping and customers hear us slurping and ask: ‘What are you doing?’ We tell them: ‘This is cupping, come in, grab a spoon and give it a go,’” Mel says.
If it’s not already obvious, Anne and Mel say the best parts of their day are spent interacting with their customers.
“We love meeting new people and being responsible for the smiles on our customer’s faces,” Mel says. “When they say, ‘That’s the best coffee I’ve had’, it gives us a buzz and a real sense of pride. Come in and enjoy the journey with us.”