A few random thoughts…

What  a busy couple of weeks since getting back from Copenhagen, it all seems like a lifetime ago, even though in reality it’s been barely a month.

Lots of fun was had getting back to the roastery where I work, tasting samples of coffees generously donated from people around the world and experiencing the true variety of this industry, recapping on the trip and planning for the next one…


making lots of mess too….


 So, anyway,  I decided to hold off on this post for a week or so to let Sarah finish her epic trip down the west coast (it is her blog after all, I’m just a guest!) and by the time I collected my thoughts I realised this was going to be about a couple of random things.

The first thing I was going to talk about is the Aroma Festival. Each year Sydney   hosts the Aroma Festival, a large outdoor show aimed and linking coffee retailers with the general public. Aroma has been running for 11 years, usually on the last Sunday of July in and around the harbour under the watchful eye of the bridge and Opera House. This year was a bit different however, as this fellow has come to town:

It’s World Youth Day this week (go figure!?) so everything got a bit shuffled, and barely 8 days after returning from Copenhagen the Aroma Festival was on. The main reason I’m mentioning the date change is because about 4 months ago I was talking to Stephen Morrissey (aka. World Barista Champion 2008) and said to him that if he won in Copenhagen we’d get him out to Australia for the Aroma Festival. Well, darn it, he won! and reminded me at the Barista Party afterwards about what I’d said, and well, there was not enough time, and  it didn’t happen… and so I’m apologising here and now. Sorry Thud….

Anyway, back to Aroma. The general turnout of people is between 60,000 and 100, 000 espresso obsessed Sydneysiders, and this year my home city pulled out just about perfect weather making the crowds ridiculous.

looking north at all the exhibition tents…

Coffee obsessed crowds on a beautiful Sydney winter day near the harbour.

Aroma is always interesting as it’s a chance to compare a whole range of coffee retailers at once, and also gives an insight into just how much people here love coffee, in particular espresso coffee, as they stand in queues for ever and ever for $1 taste testers. This year the organisers decided to reduce the coffee content, and also introduce chocolate, spices and cakes too, so there was a more diverse mix of exhibitors but still a great day out.

Waiting for $1 espresso

The big hit this year was the ‘domestic machine and espresso’ hall, where retailers who sell domestic espresso machinery (Think Vibiemme Domobar, Giotto, Sunbeam, Krups etc.) have the opportunity to demonstrate their products first hand to their core market.

lots and lots of people watch demonstrations on the Giotto and Domobar

There were no events or competitions this year – in the past AASCA has run a latte art competition and demonstrations but this year the organisers chose to keep the whole show more simple, so for us competition groupies  it was more about being a tourist in our own city this time around.

So on to another topic – or more a goodbye and hello. For the last month a lovely gentleman called Justin Tobin has been working at Australian Independent Roasters with our awesome coffee team, learning the ropes, packing beans, sample roasting and doing small production batches on the 5kg Renegade Roaster.

My Bossman Scottie Jones and Justin ‘working’ !!

Justin who is originally from Seattle, is a good mate of Jon Lewis  and has been based in Australia for the last six months working and learning about coffee at Mars Hill Cafe in Sydney.


working the roaster….

Having a fresh set of eyes and tastebuds around for the last few weeks has been really refreshing. Justin’s familiarity with USA coffee and roasting has been great as a comparison to what our market is doing and where our coffee is going.

He and his wife will eventually be settling (for a while at least) in Budapest, Hungary where Justin hopes to bring good coffee to the people there, but before that happens he’s hitting his home shores in the USA doing a small tour from east to west. Justin has  helped out on designing a new blend for a new client and you can be sure he’s going to be a force in this industry in years to come!

Look out for him in your shop drinking your ‘spro, and if he drops into your cafe or roastery be sure to give him a big hello!






  1. thanks so much for this post, em. going to the aroma festival is a big dream of mine! someday i’ll make it!

  2. Ah, Aroma. Funny enough, that was the first coffee show my wife and I had the chance to go to! We took our honeymoon in Australia and rolled into town about the same time as the festival. I will never forget it!

    ..be bold
    Jason, Cafe Evoke

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