Though it sits inconspicuously in the suburb of Northgate, Queensland, walking into Passport Specialty Coffee Roasters is a journey, taking you to a place full of exotic tastes and once-in-a-lifetime coffee experiences.
Aptly named, the roastery’s showroom is decorated with dark shades of navy and maroon, giving the space a relaxing and almost esoteric ambiance. With gold filigreed coffee bags arranged like works of art, it’s easy to picture yourself… elsewhere.
Passport Specialty Coffee began, as a roastery first, a little over two years ago. Founders Aaron McKenzie and Jason Joffe share with BeanScene their inspiration and ethos behind this coffee enthusiast’s haven, in our corner of the world.
“The showroom’s been open a year,” Aaron began, “The reason we wanted to open the front of the house here, is basically to share with other people what we enjoy drinking ourselves. The whole ethos of Passport Coffee is that we just want to serve coffees that we enjoy drinking, which is super simple, but then the more you kind of dive into that, the more complicated that statement becomes. Everything we serve has to be outstanding. We’re not interested in drinking average quality coffee, we’re not even interested in drinking good quality coffee, we want every coffee to be absolutely mind-blowing.”
Another important value to Jason and Aaron is sustainability, be it environmentally, economically, or socially. When asked about how they go about enacting their responsible practices, Jason had to say, “Whatever we do, everyone from the people picking cherries on the farm, through the farm owners and the café owners on the other end of the supply chain, they all need to be profitable, otherwise there’s really no point in us doing what we do.
“I’ve been in the industry professionally for 21 years and I have a lot of existing relationships. Typically, from every origin we buy from we know a few people, and that’s always where we start looking. We understand the farm has to be profitable, and we’ve got to understand that everyone in the supply chain, if their role is necessary, they need to be profitable, otherwise there’s no point to it.”
Jason continues, “So if we can have that conversation, and can talk to a farmer and it’s not necessary that we agree on a price with the farmer, sometimes we agree on a price with the exporter or the importer, but they still need to tell us what they paid for the coffee. If they’re not prepared to do that, we aren’t prepared to work with them. It’s very simple, there’s a large amount of trust that’s needed for that, but that’s why we work with people we trust. We would never assume, we only work with people who are happy to be transparent.”
With such a clear passion for coffee and the people who produce it, Jason and Aaron look for unique flavours for their customer base.
“We don’t go out looking for specific flavours, but certain flavours do jump out at us. We love our natural processed coffees and we love sweet fruity coffee. If we drink something and we can get excited about it we know our customers are gonna get excited about it,” Jaosn enthuses.
When asked about his current favourite, Jason said, “My favourite right now is definitely this Ethiopian Tade GG Microlot 7. We’ve been working with [farmer] Tesfaye from Ethiopia for a few years, definitely one of our favourite producers and we are very happy. We’re not very far into the currency of new coffee, but both Aaron and myself are calling this our coffee of the year, we’re loving this.”
Passport’s barista, Lauren, was in hearty agreement, “The Tade GG Microlot 7 that we picked up this year is phenomenal. It is really, really cool. We have all the varieties of their coffee this year, the washed, the natural, the honey, and we also picked up the Microlot and it is so tasty.” She gushes.
Passport’s full range of coffee’s can be found on their website passportcoffee.com.au
In addition to sharing their love for exotic coffees with the public, Passport Specialty Coffee also provides coffee education for home brewers, so they can recreate high quality coffee in the comfort and safety of their own homes.
“One of the things that is actually really easy to replicate at home is outstanding quality filter coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good flat white as much as anyone else, but for me filter coffee is much more… I guess is a much ‘closer to the source’ version of coffee. It’s sort of uncomplicated. It’s amazing if it’s done right and the quality is good. I could quite happily never drink another espresso-based coffee in my life, and I wouldn’t feel like I’m missing out, and it’s easy to replicate at home,” Aaron continues.
“For us, consumer education is the thing that really pushes our brand. If people understand how easy it is to make amazing coffee at home, they will explore. All the coffees we do here can really take you outside of not just your comfort zone, but also your knowledge and preconception of what coffee is.”
Looking to the future of Passport Specialty Coffee, Jason adds, “Coffee-wise this is an exciting year, between the coffees we’ve sourced, and some of the projects we are working on at origin, we’ve got some very exciting coffees coming.
“Now that we’ve got a sense of what people are enjoying, that we also enjoy, we can fine tune and explore that a bit more. Also, in terms of where the coffee market is at, for us we just see that as an opportunity to push ourselves further above the average. We want people to know, with the expectations of coming here, that this is not just coming to a café, it’s coming to a showcase of what our roasting is,” concludes Jason.
Passport currently supplies wholesale to cafés all over the world with specialty grade coffees. For a sample at your café, contact email@example.com