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Interview: Coffee Supreme

Interview: Coffee Supreme

Melbourne is often billed as Australia's coffee capital city, due to the laneways and streets crawling with excellent cafes. One of those cafes happens to be Coffee Supreme, a company which originated in NZ in 1993. Since 2001, they've been roasting and serving Melburnians amazing coffee and may just have had an influence in the development of specialty coffee in the city. To get an insight into their operation, we popped in to Supreme in Abbotsford to meet Ash and Jo, retail manager and general manager respectively. We chatted all about their experiences with coffee, the industry in general, and why they love using Moccamaster machines.

When and how did your coffee career begin?

Jo: I started seven years ago here in Melbourne, and like anyone else who starts work in a coffee roastery I was doing all kinds of little jobs. I moved up the chain eventually, and now I run this store and the Brisbane store. 

Ash: Coffee career? Four years ago I got a part time job making coffee while I was studying, and when I finished my degree I wasn't quite ready to do anything in that area. Then I decided to move to Melbourne, and my love of coffee and hospitality led me to get a job at Supreme's cafe. Now I help out with the online store and retail aspect of the operation.

What is a typical day of work?

Ash: It starts early! A lot of things. Get here about 8am, jump online and check out all the online orders that have come through from yesterday. I'll process those orders and pack them, which will bring me through to lunch time. Usually I'll spend the afternoons working with Dan, our graphic designer. We'll update the online store, figure out what products we're going to market, although it changes every day. My role is quite diverse, the other day I took a Moccamaster down to a new bike shop and set it up for them, showed them how to use it, which was really cool. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of working in the coffee industry?

Jo: Coffee and people.

Ash: I was going to say exactly the same thing. Building relationships with all kinds of interesting people that you get to meet every day. And drinking coffee.

Jo: Well that's what brings everybody together isn't it? We invest a lot of time, energy, and love into our coffee. We have very close relationships with our suppliers at origin, and for this reason we strive to make our coffee the best it can be, to represent these farmers well. 

How do you think the Melbourne coffee scene has changed since Supreme entered 15 years ago?

Jo: So much. SO much. Every year at Christmas we say to each other, "Surely the industry can't get much bigger, where is it going to go now? Surely we've done everything?" And then something new will come along. I think that's what is so amazing about this industry and why it attracts great people to it, is that it's very diverse and there's always something going on. It's always advancing very quickly. People are always thinking about what's coming next. 

15 years. In my mind specialty coffee started in New Zealand, and that's perhaps why Supreme were one of the instigators of it in Australia 15 years ago. So much has happened since. Now we're seeing a lot of young faces starting awesome little coffee roasteries which is incredible, because basically this whole industry is helping sustain origin. The more great coffee we have out there, the better the supply chain is. 

Where do you think the industry is heading?

Jo: Your guess is as good as mine. [laughs] Where do you think it's headed? 

I don't know. It seems that the Australian market is pretty saturated with specialty coffee, but it's still growing.

Jo: Exactly. I think it will always continue to grow. Like I said before, year on year we say what will come next, can it get any bigger? And every year it proves us wrong, it does get bigger. 

Ash: More and more people are getting into specialty coffee all the time.

What's one of your most memorable coffee experiences?

Jo: Well, there's a recent one and I could probably think of an older one but this is one I love. Kelso's are a wholesale account of ours and they've decided to only serve filter coffee which I think is epic. They do awesome sandwiches and light diner style food but the only coffee you can get comes from the Moccamaster. That always puts a massive grin on my face. We've been roasting filter coffee seriously for seven or eight years here in Melbourne, and it's still only now started to integrate through to consumer level. 

What do you love about using the Moccamaster?

Jo: We made a decision five years not to do espresso coffee for home. The reason for this is that you can't achieve a very high quality of espresso on a home machine very easily. It would cost a million dollars and if it's not being used all the time like in a cafe it probably isn't going to taste the same. So when promoting coffee for retail in home and work environments we began recommending using a Moccamaster. It produces a beautifully clean cup, it does our product proud, it's affordable and accessible, it's super easy to clean and super easy to extract your coffee. You can't go wrong.

Ash: Just about anyone can use it, it's so easy. They also keep up with fashion and have got all the colours, so they look so nice on any benchtop. 

Jo: Just slot it in next to your matching Smeg toaster. But really, we're very happy to see a lot more cafes picking them up now, because inevitably that's how more consumers are exposed to high quality filter coffee. 

To learn more about Coffee Supreme, head to their website or pop in to their Melbourne cafe at 28-36 Grosvenor St, Abbotsford. 

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