Since 2006, GABRIEL has established itself as a leader of specialty coffee culture in Sydney. And it’s living proof that quality still rises to the top, being a family-run business that has grown without spending big on marketing and sales campaigns.

In its latest Coffee Chat, MILKLAB got some freshly roasted insights from the GABRIEL team, including Founder and Director Sam Gabrielian.

How GABRIEL became a Sydney specialty icon

GABRIEL is a brand built on a no-compromise commitment to offering the highest standards, as Laura White, Marketing Manager explains.

“We are lucky to have an owner operator who won’t sacrifice quality for quantity, backed up by a small and dedicated team of people who are always learning and developing,” she says.

GABRIEL’s early growth happened organically — initially a wholesale business, the brand relied on word of mouth and Sam’s growing stature as a roaster. At the same time, Sam was honing his craft and making connections with roasters far and wide, even making trips to purchase green coffee beans directly from their origins.

“Today, our roastery is based in Sydney’s lower North Shore, where the continuous journey of sourcing the world’s best green coffee offerings takes centre stage, alongside our commitment to produce consistency without compromise,” Sam explains.

“Sourcing beans that aren’t typically ‘off the shelf’ reveals unique coffee experiences,” he says.

Today, the brand still centres on a strong drive for exploration, as Sam talks through the GABRIEL approach to single origins. 

“Our single origins are small lots of unique coffees that are either leading our customers into new experiences via how they are processed, or being old favourites that provide comfort to traditional black coffee drinkers,” he says.


The world cup of coffee

Coffee cups and World Cups. This was the inspiration for the World Cup of Coffee — a unique fusion of two iconic cultures: coffee and football. Held alongside the FIFA Women’s World Cup, an opportunity to support women in sport ignited the country more than anyone could have anticipated.

“We created the World Cup of Coffee to establish a platform for the coffee community to engage, celebrate, and spotlight the diverse talents of baristas,” explains Laura.

“Our aim was to break away from the conventional dairy milk competition and underscore the evolving consumer behaviour surrounding alternative milk choices,” she says.

It was also a fun way to bring like-minded people together, foster connections and facilitate shared learning experiences. A diverse crowd gathered to mingle, exchange ideas, and gain industry insights.

Naturally, GABRIEL’s World Cup was timed to coincide with finals week of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“The event also allowed us to express our unwavering support for female baristas in the industry,” she says.

Discover the origins of the World Cup of Coffee

The ‘World Cup of Coffee’ concept came to be during a wholesale-only barista competition as part of GABRIEL’s 2022 Christmas festivities. Sam and the team saw the potential of the competition concept and partnered with MILKLAB to bring it to the public.

“In 2023, we aspired to broaden the scope and extend the invitation to the public and the wider coffee industry. This expansion became a reality through MILKLAB’s invaluable support,” she says.

With the winner taking home a $5,000 cash prize, GABRIEL’s first open barista competition was always designed to be exceptional.

“MILKLAB was our inaugural major partner for an event of this magnitude and collaborated with baristas from a wide array of cafes to extend the reach beyond GABRIEL’s network of cafe partners,” Laura explains.

With the World Cup of Coffee happening soon after the launch of GABRIEL’s Low Rider blend, it was also a perfect opportunity to bring in the MILKLAB range for some blend matching.

“On the night, multiple MILKLAB staff attended to assist in running the event and liaising with baristas. This collaboration was testament to the power of unity within the coffee industry,” she says.

“Our collaboration enabled us to create an inclusive environment that not only celebrated coffee expertise but also imparted knowledge to those outside the industry.”


How do you think MILKLAB differs from other alternative milk brands?

Ian Berkeley, GABRIEL’s Sales Manager explains that offering the customer plenty of quality choices is important, emphasising that this is an area in which MILKLAB outpaces other alternative milk brands.

“MILKLAB has the strongest suite of products — most other brands limit themselves to one core product,” he says.

We hear you’ve been doing some blend matching with the MILKLAB range …

In their unending quest to discover seriously tasty coffee, the GABRIEL team have been busy testing their range of blends with the MILKLAB range.

“Ultimately, we’re aiming to create the best experience possible for coffee consumers. Whether it is at cafes or for the home barista, great coffee requires great milk,” Laura says.

What else is coming up in 2024?

“We’re offering barista training at our world class training facility, not only with our barista trainers, but also with our founder Sam, which is a great benefit of being an owner-operator roastery,” Ian explains.

This is a rare opportunity for staff to get insights from a founder — after all, who knows more about the coffee business and what it takes to succeed.

Other collaborations include a partnership with La Marzocco aimed at helping home baristas to maximise their enjoyment of specialty coffee products using home machines.

And of course, more MILKLAB colLABorations are in the works, so be sure to stay tuned for more exciting colLABorations later in the year!

Do you have any favourite MILKLAB products to use?

“Almond all day. It’s been the leader from the start and everyone else can only hope and attempt to catch up.”

For more information about MILKLAB, visit

This article appears in the June 2024 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

Send this to a friend