Voilá Coffee announced a new partnership with ST. ALi in Australia today, marking the beginning of Voilá’s new guest roaster program designed to make coffee accessible to folks around the world. On the brink of the new partnership, we take a closer look at the folks behind the instant coffee brand.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Voilá Coffee
Voilá Coffee announced a new partnership with ST. ALi Coffee out of Melbourne, Australia, today. The alliance kicks off Voilá’s guest roaster program and marks the first collaboration between Voilá and a roaster outside of North America. ST. ALi will be supplying a coffee from Colombia called Finca La Laja.
Although Voilá has shipped their coffees internationally, this is the first time the company will be working with an Australian roaster to make their coffees available to folks across the country and around the world. When Kent Sheridan, founder of Voilá, envisioned who he wanted to work with to debut the program, ST. ALi was a natural choice. “I couldn’t think of a better partner to launch the program with,” Kent shares. “This collaboration is just the beginning of an important relationship in the specialty-coffee industry. I’ve known the people behind ST. ALi for a long time and I’m thrilled that Voilà has finally found an opportunity to team up with the company to bring specialty instant coffee to Australia.”
“ST. ALi has been always been at the frontier of anything awesome,” shares ST. ALi founder Salvatore Malatesta. “We’re early adopters of anything we think is new and cool, so when I had the opportunity to meet Kent from Voilà, who was doing something new and interesting in the instant space, we decided that a collaboration with those guys was a must. From what I’ve tasted, there is no better instant coffee on the planet.”
While Voilà is expanding internationally to include more roasting partnerships, Kent admits it’s a somewhat unlikely career path for him, as he didn’t grow up liking coffee. “I was born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, where I was completely void of any coffee besides Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, two places that convinced me I didn’t like coffee at all,” he shares. “Only once I lived in Asheville, N.C., and later Bend, Ore., did I have a chance to actually be introduced to specialty coffee by my wife, who was used to the great specialty cafés of Portland. This set me on a course to fall in love with specialty coffee, start my own coffee cart, and scrap together every bit of information on making great coffee that I could.”
As Kent learned more about coffee and began questioning the limits of the drink, he began brewing the idea of Voilá about three years ago. “In 2015, it felt like the idea for specialty instant was on the tip of my tongue, but it wasn’t forming into a cohesive thought until January of 2016, when out of nowhere the idea hit me all at once and the entire vision of Voilà was formed within a week,” says Kent. He continued to push this idea, and was motivated to make coffee more accessible to folks around the world. “I just couldn’t get over how much could be done with good instant coffee: the approachability for anyone to enjoy, the transparency all the way from farm to roaster to cup, the accessibility anywhere, the ability to preserve a coffee long past its whole-bean form, the fact that you could have five completely different coffees in your pocket—so much of what good instant offered was racing through my head nonstop.”
Kent has partnered with a number of U.S.-based roasters such as Dapper & Wise, Upper Left Roasters, Sterling Coffee Roasters, 1000 Faces Coffee, and Ruby Coffee Roasters, and looks to make long-term partnerships with like-minded companies. “When we look for roasters to partner with, we look for companies that really share a similar vision to Voilà. We like to partner with a spread of companies, from small localized roasters to larger, more recognized roasters. Beyond being blown away at the cupping table, the decision to partner with a new roaster comes down to a gut feeling for me sometimes. You can just feel when a roaster is seeing eye-to-eye with you.” Kent shares. “There’s a lot of communication with our partnered roasters about what types of coffees we’re looking for every time we order—they’re a resource that we can lean into and communicate our needs with to hear what they recommend we purchase. When we partner with a roaster, we are committing to work with them indefinitely.”
As Kent and Voilá launch the guest roaster program, meant to highlight coffees roasted across the globe and give drinkers access to all types of new coffees, Kent still keeps in mind the initial mission statement of Voilá: “To represent uncompromising quality while maintaining a lightheartedness and approachability in the specialty-coffee industry.” Kent hopes to provide high-quality coffee to as many people as possible without being too fussy or creating barriers for non-coffee experts. “From the start, we’ve wanted to keep the duality of taking coffee very seriously but not taking ourselves too seriously—after all, we are an instant coffee company. We offer an experience to try a huge range of rotating coffees and roasters in an instant form that is clean and transparent in the profile of a filter coffee.”