With 28 years of hospitality experience between them, the Square One Coffee Roasters team of two, Head Roaster Elika Rowell and two-time Southern Region Cup Tasters Champion Tom Bomford, aims to support burgeoning small businesses in any way they can.
“We want to see [our wholesale customers] not only succeed in serving delicious coffee, but also make sure their cafés are financially sustainable,” Elika says.
“We want to be able to inspire and encourage growth not just in technical coffee making, but in the stories behind the coffee itself. We choose to work with amazing farmers, producers, exporters, and importers, and love to be able to tell their stories.”
Beyond the coffee machine, however, Elika says many customers lack a general knowledge of coffee, from its early beginnings as a bean, to different processing methods and countries of production. This information is something that generally takes time to learn, and is often best learned by travelling to origin.
Because that privilege is not always an option, Elika found a creative and digestible way to transfer that information to a wider audience. She utilised her graphic design background to create a series of posters that describe coffee cultivars common to origin countries Square One sources from, main producing regions, production volumes, processing methods, country history, and cup profiles.
“Beyond this, the most common problems we see are a lack of palate training and the lack of creating a common language on the bar with staff members,” Elika says.
Though the team at Square One says palate training is integral to creating foundations for a coffee career, it prefers to work with its customers to develop a training program that works for them, rather than sticking to a rigid structure.
“Classes are organised to suit our customers, not just in terms of educational needs, but also timing and location,” Elika says.
“We often find that its hugely beneficial to do training at the [customer’s] venue, using equipment that’s familiar to their staff members, but we can also accommodate our customers at our roastery in Cremorne, using an array of equipment that we support.”
Square One can offer training ranging from beginner level all the way up to Q Grader, which Tom and Elika can provide thanks to their combined barista experience, and own Q Grader qualification. Tom also has experience in production roasting, and as Elika says, is very mechanically minded, aiding in more technical training.
Square One’s training ability doesn’t end there. Elika can offer training in multiple areas of hospitality outside of coffee thanks to her experience in fine dining restaurant management, cocktail bartending, waitressing, head barista, and small business ownership.
“We can aid in areas like stock management, bar workflow management, cost of products, waste management, all the way up to helping you write a small business plan for your new café and helping you learn how to use accounting software,” Elika says.
Before training begins, Square One asks its customers to provide it with two pieces of information: their weaknesses or where would they like to improve, and what really excites them about coffee.
“From here we can create a two-prong training session, something that’s challenging and something that’s really fun,” Elika says. “We run all classes with approachability and positivity.”
Elika says Square One’s adaptable training program teaches baristas how to make delicious coffee, allows it to share the stories of producers and farmers, and helps the general public grow appreciation for specialty coffee.
“[Square One’s training program] makes sure your business is sustainable for longevity,” she says.