The newly transitioned Seven Miles Coffee Roasters (formerly Belaroma) hosted an Industry Forum event on Thursday 10 November in Sydney, asking one of the industry’s most discussed topics: how to define specialty coffee.
The event took place at Seven Miles’ newly refurbished Roastery Door in Manly Vale, New South Wales.
“Tonight’s event is exactly what Seven Miles is about – collaborating with the northern beaches coffee community,” Seven Miles Paul Asquith said. “We invite everyone to come and enjoy this new, beautiful training space, and we hope to hold more events that ignite debate and healthy discussion, like this one.”
The panelist for the evening included Sensory Lab’s Emily Oak, Mecca’s Tuli Keidar, Cofi-Com’s John Russell Storey, Ona Coffee’s Sasa Sestic and Neighbourhood’s Sean McManus, moderated by Seven Mile’s Matt Brown.
The guest speakers covered a range of subject matters related to the topic, including how specialty coffee is measured, the importance of traceability, whether a specialty crop alone is sustainable for farmers, how it’s perceived in the marketplace, industry attitudes towards consumers, how it’s priced and sold, whether the World Barista Championship raises the profile on specialty coffee, and its boundaries and constraints.
For Sean, the discussion around specialty coffee was more about changing attitudes and a resurgence of good customer service.
“For me, specialty is just a hype word. It’s about constantly striving for the best. The word dies the second we stop pushing for the best,” Sean said.
“We need to make specialty coffee more approachable. I don’t care if a customer orders their large cappuccino with two sugars – realistically, that’s the bread and butter of your business. Make that, then dedicate your time to making a wilder, more exotic coffee for people who will appreciate it. In the past few months I’ve started to care less about coffee and more about what my customers want. We need to change our attitudes from a service point of view. We shouldn’t care what our customers order. Think about the fact that out of the 50 billion cafes out there, they came to yours. Don’t treat your customers with disrespect for not ordering a ‘specialty coffee’, treat them like absolute lords.”
For John, he predicts the next stage of movement within the industry will be a drawback to simplicity. “I want to see good coffee being enjoyed, rather than worrying about the perception on what is specialty and what’s not,” he said.
For Matt, the future of the industry will look to embrace more coffee science but there needs to be an understanding between customers as to how climate change will affect coffee prices and why they’ll be paying more for it.
“If you measure specialty coffee purely in terms of flavour and score, it seems ethics and traceability aren’t required for its definition. Roasters and consumers should however, be aware of the supply chain and the effects of paying an appropriate price for a coffee,” he said.
See an extended article on this topic in the December edition of BeanScene.
For more information visit www.sevenmiles.com.au
To see images from the event, click here www.facebook.com/sevenmilescoffeeroasters/?fref=ts