Toby’s Estate Swirl Club unites barista community

Toby’s Estate Swirl Club

Toby’s Estate explains its new Swirl Club concept for the barista community and celebrates a long-time Brazilian supplier that embraces more than quality coffee.

Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters has almost done it all. The roaster has sourced some of the world’s most exclusive coffees, helped customers change their perceptions of coffee through its SHIFT series, and even created coffees to freeze, but never did it imagine the ‘swirl’ of a cup would launch an entirely new project.

“Swirl Club started off as an internal term to describe the swirling of a cup with coffee and a dash of milk to even out the colour of the coffee crema before pouring your latte art. It was definitely something we would say for fun, but it stuck,” explains Toby’s Estate’s Marketing Coordinator Vee Ketsak.

“Fast forward two years when we were discussing what we could do to build a fun community and grow the Toby’s family. We really held on to the dream of creating a sub-brand within Toby’s and decided to actually make Swirl Club, a club.”

That club has now turned into a bi-monthly latte art smackdown where 12 to 16 baristas go head-to-head in a knockout format. Competing pairs are picked out at random from their polaroid photos in a hat. There’s a total of four rounds, and one dead heat round for two competitors to compete for third place.

For each pair-up, there are three dice which determine what latte art pattern the competitors will pour, along with what milk and in what vessel.

“Imagine rolling a double winged swan in an espresso cup with soy milk. Doesn’t matter how good you are, you’re going to struggle a little bit, but that’s what makes it fun. It’s what levels out the playing field,” Vee says.

The pairs play scissors, paper, rock, and the winner decides which side of the coffee machine to steam their milk on. Three judges then point to their favourite cup on the count of three.

Vee says Toby’s Estate wanted to create a fun, carefree event where the coffee community can enjoy a night connecting over what they love; enjoying real-life community – like a club. With the support of major event sponsors Slayer and Alternative Dairy Co, Swirl Club is brought to life.

“Although it’s a latte art smackdown, there’s a DJ pumping out old school R&B and hip-hop tunes with beer and pizza included. We also have limited edition Swirl Club merchandise and coffee to giveaway on the night through a raffle and other side activities, so everyone goes home feeling like a winner,” Vee says.

With the first Swirl Clubs taking place in June at Toby’s Estate’s flagship store in Chippendale, New South Wales, and Crave Specialty Coffee in Croydon, South Australia, Vee says the inaugural events have been well received by the barista community.

“The events have been amazing so far. Our first Swirl Club event in Sydney sold out within 24 hours. We were met with an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from guests at the event. We’re definitely looking forward to doing it bigger and better each time,” Vee says.

“For Toby’s Estate it’s a place where we can interact and connect with the coffee community, and it’s giving a platform to up-and-coming baristas to practice their latte art, and maybe even unravel new talent. I’m sure there’s some shy underdogs out there that the coffee world hasn’t discovered yet.”

United by values

From the end of the supply chain to the very beginning, Toby’s Estate is also celebrating its long-time partnership with Brazilian farming partner Darerra Coffee.

“We have been working together for over four years now. On a personal level, I have had the chance to visit the farm almost every year since 2015. I have always been so impressed by their work.  I also absolutely adore the people working at Daterra, which really made me want to bring this special relationship to our Toby’s portfolio, as it completely aligns with our vision and our values,” says Toby’s Estate’s Green Bean Buyer Charlotte Malaval.

Charlotte says Daterra Coffee has long set industry standards in Brazil, and worldwide, for its sustainability efforts, innovative processing techniques, and cutting-edge genetics research.

Divided into 220 small ‘mini farms’ of five to 15 hectares, Daterra’s mission is to produce high quality coffees with a high level of social and environmental responsibility through the continuous search for best technological practices.

“Daterra has so much knowledge, technology, and highly passionate and skilful professionals. Their set of processes and data collection makes it possible for them to deliver quality and consistency year in, year out, regardless of rough climatic conditions,” Charlotte says.

“Daterra is almost a research lab that happens to produce coffee. This allows Toby’s Estate to have access to new genetics, unusual processing methods, and tasty new hybrids.”

Daterra’s Market Development and Research Manager Gabriel Agrelli Moreira says the roastery gives back to the farm by providing valuable market knowledge.

“Australia is one of the leading countries in quality coffee and setting trends in our industry. At the same time, Toby’s is a leading company in the Australian market. Being partners with Toby’s allows Daterra to be aligned with one of the trailblazers on this market,” says Gabriel.

“Being associated with Toby’s has opened so many doors to us. I can name various roasters that were not buying our coffees but came to us after Toby’s did. Toby’s knows us from top to bottom. The level of partnership and transparency we have makes them feel comfortable recommending us to others and helps get our name out there. We are always thankful for that.”

According to Charlotte, Daterra never puts profit before people or planet, as relationships are more important to them than anything.

“It’s the only B Corp coffee farm in the world, and the coffee they produce is carbon negative, meaning every bag of Daterra delivered at the port has 60 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent of credit, which is unusual for coffee production. The farm is still finding ways to do more and will be planting 20 million native trees in Brazil until 2030, to sequestrate even more carbon,” she says.

“You know when you feel good about buying something, because that something does good to others? That’s how I feel being a Daterra buyer.”

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This article appears in the August 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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