Why do I need coffee training?

Veneziano barista training courses by Australian barista championsCraig Simon 2014 Australian Barista Champion Veneziano Coffee Roasters Think Tank CoffeeHere’s why others do…

Veneziano’s training school doesn’t just exist for training clients’ baristas; private tuition for individuals and small groups is also available for those who have a keen interest or have had exposure to making coffee.

Veneziano offers training onsite at its premises in Melbourne and Brisbane, and by appointment in ACT, Adelaide and Sydney.

Accomplished former cafe owner, barista competitor and Australian latte art champion Erin Sampson heads up Veneziano Coffee Roasters’ coffee training curriculum.

Customers travel from near and far to do their coffee education with Erin and the team, which includes the likes of Jade Jennings, Jen Marks and two-time Australian Barista Champion and World finalist (2014) Craig Simon. In fact, Erin and Jade were part of the team that assisted Craig in his 2014 World Barista Championship campaign.

One of our most recent training clients attending barista basics Introduction to Espresso in Melbourne is Louise D, hailing all the way from Norfolk Island!

Louise sought out coffee training as she’ll be working a coffee cart to help out friends at the Norfolk Island Food Festival at the end of the year. A self-confessed perfectionist she sought out “the very best training”.

She happened to be in Melbourne for other business at the time, which coincided with availability for her to do some private coffee tuition.

But why Veneziano? A Google search on ‘barista training Melbourne’ and a little further reading and research on the courses on offer, and she was convinced. “The qualifications of your trainers was impressive and I wanted to give myself the best possible training opportunity”, she says.

Louise was trained by Jade and her feedback is as follows:

“Jade was excellent. She was friendly, well-organised, confident and knowledgeable.
I learnt so much about making coffee, it really is an art!
Not as simple as just tamping coffee and pressing buttons on the coffee machine.
I was really, really impressed.”  Louise D.

Another customer’s feedback to Erin:

“I just wanted to say thank you so much for our coffee course yesterday.
Your knowledge is extraordinary and we both learnt so much.
I’m so excited about putting things into practice and also to learn more in the future from such a fabulous introduction!” Karen H.

With the successful team at Veneziano behind you – you’ll learn from the best. They love what they do!

Jade Jennings Barista Competitor Trainer at Veneziano Coffee Roasters Jen Marks Latte Art Champion Australia

Australia’s Best Cafes – Features First Pour Brisbane

veneziano First Pour Brisbane by Gourmet Traveller Australia's Best CafesGourmet Traveller publication recently published its top 12 Australian cafes, with Veneziano’s First Pour Brisbane appearing second on the list!

Wonderful accolade to have under the belt. Well done to the team at First Pour Brisbane and doing specialty coffee proud.

See the full list of Australia’s Best Cafes by Gourmet Traveller, here.


Direct Trade – Project Colombia

Coffee Cherries Direct Trade growers Colombia
At Veneziano we’ve been working hard to develop direct relationships with our growers at origin, so far establishing commitments with particular estates in El Salvador, Brazil and India. With Colombia being one of the largest growing regions it was the obvious next step for us.

The Colombian project is the result of a collaboration with our recent partnership with Sustainable Harvest; an Australian first. They’ve developed a relationship model with growers at origin, allowing us to connect directly with our producers and better understand the complexities and challenges they face as well as educate them on our market back in Australia. With theaverage farm size in Colombia being between one to five hectares, it was important for us to connect with larger growers to be able to secure a consistently high quality supply and better traceability.

Veneziano roaster Jack Allisey recently spent 10 days in Colombia visiting farms, getting to know the people, cupping and selecting coffee. Sustainable Harvest has introduced us to three growers we’re very excited to start working with and developing a long, mutually beneficial relationship. The three farms are:


San Fernando Estate, owner Humberto Gonzales Trujillo

San Fernando Estate Colombia Direct Trade Partner Don Humberto San Fernando Estate owner Colombia coffee direct trade

San Fernando has around 200 hectares of coffee trees at an altitude ranging from 1,400 to 2,100 meters. Humberto has been farming at San Fernando since the 1970s but in 2006 he hired two new farm managers, Gabriel and Luis Guillermo, who brought a new enthusiasm for coffee.

Veneziano Roaster Jack Allisey with San Fernando Estate farm managers Gabriel and Luis Guillermo, Direct Trade Coffee Colombia

Keen to better understand what makes a quality coffee and the processing and farming techniques behind it, they began to split the farm into separate processing lots to further understand the intricacies in flavour that their farm produces. There are two mountains on the San Fernando farm and what they found after separating out their processing lots is that the left mountain actually cups with consistently better quality than the right. These separate processing lots allow us to fine tune the flavour profile of our coffee and work to create a repeatable product.

Our first shipment due to start roasting from the start of August is from San Fernando estate and includes a delicious 20 bag microlot. We can’t wait for it to arrive and also return to the farm in October to provide feedback and start working further with Humberto, Gabriel and Luis Guillermo to fine tune our coffee in main harvest.


La Cascada, owner Correa Restrepo Hermanos

La Cascade Direct Trade Coffee Farm Colombia La Cascada Direct Trade Relationship Coffee Colombia

Named after the waterfall running through the farm, La Cascada was the largest farm Jack visited. Managed by Diego Moncada, La Cascada has been producing amazing coffee for years. They’ve developed an incredibly systematic approach to the growing, processing and traceability of their coffee, including taking soil samples with GPS coordinates to analyse quality and ascertain the fertilisation needs, logging rainfall and harvest periods and linking this all back to final cup tasting reports to determine what has impacted final flavour in the cup.


La Cascada Direct Trade Coffee Farm Colombia Las Mercedes Direct Trade Coffee Farm, Colombia

La Cascada also renews or replants 20 percent of their trees every year and anything over 1,600 meters is replanted with Caturra which has been producing higher quality coffees despite its susceptibility to leaf rust. As one of the biggest employers in the area with 200 employees year round, La Cascada has a strong commitment to the community, providing exceptional accommodation and dining facilities for their staff
and supporting the local church and hospital.


Las Mercedes, owned by the Guerra family

Las Mercedes direct trade coffee relationship Colombia

Las Mercedes manager, the young Juan Carlos, is a truly progressive coffee producer; he has set up a cupping lab on his farm and is also a qualified Q grader, which is a rarity as a lot of producers never even have a chance to taste their own coffee.

During a mule ride through the farm Jack and Juan had lengthy discussions on the challenges growers in Colombia face and why it’s important to develop sustainable relationships with roasters as end users. Juan Carlos has been experimenting with his processing technique, playing with honey process coffees and sun drying on raised beds, both a rarity in Colombia.

Juan Carlos also joined Jack during tasting. “It was great to be able to discuss the coffees with the grower directly over the cupping table and talk about what we’re looking for back in Australia; this is the true benefit of direct trade!”, says Jack.

“I’m excited to return in October and see Juan Carlos’ experimental processing in action and hopefully select some delicious microlots for Veneziano”.


Jack Allisey from Veneziano Coffee Roasters with Las Mercedes farm manager Juan Carlos

We can’t wait for our first shipment from San Fernando to arrive in the next couple of weeks. Look out for it in Forza and Estate as well as the delicious limited microlot.


Colombian direct trade coffee ready for export  to Veneziano


Open House Cupping with Veneziano Coffee Roasters

Veneziano Coffee Roasters have regularly hosted public cupping events since the early days. For Veneziano staff, both baristas and roasters, cupping or cup tasting is just a regular part of the job which we do anyway.

For our customers and the public it provides insight into our blend development process, helps them appreciate the many coffee varietals and flavour nuances available and the opportunity to learn something new about specialty coffee.

What’s the big deal about cupping, or cup tasting? And why do roasting companies such as Veneziano constantly subject their staff to cupping sessions?

Basically, it allows the cup taster, or coffee evaluator, to individually assess a coffee (in a single cup funnily enough!) hence ‘cup tasting’ instead of coffee tasting.

The properties under evaluation in a coffee are the aroma and flavour profile. This coffee evaluation process is important for a few reasons; it helps us find any potential defects in coffee, as well as being crucial to the development of coffee blends. The differences between coffees from different growing regions, coffee varietals and even coffee grown on the same farm can be quite negligible so the cupping process allows us to truly compare them.

How is it done?

The protocol of cupping or taste evaluation of coffee typically goes as follows:









  • the coffee is freshly roasted (within 24 hours) at a light to medium roast profile and freshly ground (using a clean grinder) to a coarseness suited to drip filter brewing
  • the coffee is ground within 15 minutes of water infusion if possible, but no more than 30 minutes covered (this step is important for the aromatic evaluation), at a coffee-to-water ratio of around 8 grams (whole bean weight) to 150 ml of freshly boiled water at a temperature around 95 degrees Celsius and steeped for 3 – 5 minutes; ceramic or glass vessels are ideal
  • depending on why we are cupping, we may assess colour of the roast, this is best done comparing them against the same colour background (eg use identical cups)
  • assessment of fragrance of the dry coffee grounds is performed first by uncovering a sample of the fresh, dry grounds and sniffing them, followed by aroma evaluation of the wet fragrance, by breaking the crust gently with a spoon whilst inhaling; these steps are important as intensity of aroma reveals freshness whilst the range of aroma notes reveal attributes likely to correlate with the taste
  • the next step is to evaluate taste and nose; using a rounded spoon (preferably silver), scoop up the liquid and slurp it in from the front of the mouth ensuring it aspirates across the tongue and fills the mouth; the coffee touches all the tastebuds, allowing you to determine the various flavour components remembering that temperature will affect what you taste, it’s common to taste it two or three times as it begins to cool; in tasting the brew we are evaluating flavour, acidity, body and finish;

flavour: holding the coffee for several seconds will reveal primary and secondary flavours, this refers to the character in the cup such as clean, citrusy, florally, grassy, malty, fruity and so on. Flavour is also detected on the ‘nose’, whilst in the mouth the coffee vapours enter the nasal cavity, revealing notes such as nutty, caramelly, chocolatey, spicy, tobacco, smoky and so on

acidity: a sharp and tangy sensation detected at the tip of the tongue, often described as bright or lively at the high end of the desirable acidity scale and smooth at the low end. In coffee this a sought after quality, with acidity being described as sour when it’s found to be undesirable and a coffee with no acidity can be described as flat

body: this refers to the texture or mouthfeel and relates to the thickness or viscosity of the coffee which is determined by the amount of oils and dissolved solids or dispersion of solids in the coffee; this is best detected by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth; a thin and watery coffee is undesirable; a full bodied coffee is richer in flavour and aroma.

finish: this means the notes detected after consumption; ideally we are seeking any that may linger and leave an enjoyable aftertaste.

  • complexity refers to the way the various flavours behave in the taste and aroma, keeping in mind a coffee with a deep complexity can still be balanced
  • balance is used to describe how the various attributes of flavour, acidity, body and finish complement or contrast one another, whether something is lacking or overpowering; generally a well balanced coffee can be sensed evenly across the tongue, however sometimes this is not a desirable characteristic in a coffee and a blend may be created that highlights desirable flavours.


Competition-specific cupping protocol

Cup tasting is a triangulation competition where each competitor must evaluate eight rows of three cups of coffee, in eight minutes or less. Two of the cups contain identical coffee and the third one is different.

Each competitor receives identical sets. The objective is to detect the cup that is different of the three, by evaluating the body, acidity, sweetness and flavour. The competitor that identifies the most correct out of eight is the winner. In the event of a tie it is goes to the competitor who finished in the fastest time.







The only form of ‘training’ or experience in order to be successful in a cupping competition is to regularly cup different beans. It is fairly obvious that in order to develop the palate lots of practice is required! In the national Cup Tasting Championship heats, Veneziano Coffee Roasters were represented by Pat Connolly and Craig Simon, with Craig finishing in third place. The guys say, whilst competing, if you are unsure which cup is the odd one out, it is best to move on to a different set and come back to that set later.

As the cups cool it is easier to identify the attributes of the coffee, so leaving it to cool for a minute can definitely help. As roasters, they are regularly cupping different samples and roasts. In doing so, they are continually learning and improving their skills at evaluating different qualities and attributes of many different types of coffees and the effects of different roasting profiles on the flavour in the cup.

If you’re struggling to single out which one is different by flavour then our guys tip that evaluating the acidity is probably the most obvious quality in determining the different cup. Developing the palate to evaluate the coffee is partly natural ability and partly due to training, but cupping regularly is the only way to really fine-tune your ability to pick up the nuances between different coffees in the difficult triangular competition environment.

The entire roasting team and baristas at Veneziano Coffee Roasters cup regularly, on a daily basis whilst roasting, whenever samples arrive, industry events, hosted events on site with key clients and on occasions open to the public.

Click on this link for the competition rules (2014) – held in Melbourne at MICE.

Buy our coffee blends here.



Veneziano Coffee Roasters Launch Australia’s first Speciality Coffee Pod

Sourced Coffee Pods by Veneziano Coffee Roasters Nespresso Coffee Capsules by Veneziano Coffee Roasters Nespesso Coffee Pods by Veneziano Coffee Roasters










Veneziano Coffee Roasters Launch Australia’s first Nespresso Speciality Coffee Pod

Coffee Capsules Direct from the ‘Source’ by Veneziano

The long awaited moment has arrived; Veneziano Coffee Roasters announces the arrival of its specialty ‘Sourced’ coffee capsules, compatible with the extremely popular home Nespresso machines.

Over half a million Australians use espresso pod machines at home and this figure continues to climb. Veneziano saw the opportunity to provide specialty coffee in this market space to achieve a superior flavour profile to other products currently available.

As an experienced specialty coffee roaster Veneziano sources green beans direct from farmers with exemplary growing and processing methods to assure quality and roasts the coffee as fresh as possible in smaller, regular batches. Months of testing various roast profiles ensued to end up with a flavour profile to suit the capsule product.

On the Sourced product, which derives its name from being sourced directly, Veneziano’s managing director Craig Dickson explains, “Regarding our coffee, we can tell you which farm and even which paddock it’s from, something that discerning wine and boutique beer drinkers can appreciate as this same philosophy applies to sourcing raw produce to create these beverages”.

To enjoy the best coffee that Veneziano can obtain, freshly roasted and immediately sealed, with a full bodied flavour from your home Nespresso or Nespresso compatible machine, visit the Sourced website:

Sourced Coffee Pods

Tasting notes: full cream body, notes of chocolate, caramel and nuts; supreme in milk.

Sourced coffee pods come in boxes containing 30 capsules. Weekly, fortnightly and monthly delivery subscriptions are also available.

Sourced Coffee Pods

For lovers of the convenient home espresso pod machines. Over half a million Australians and growing are jumping on board this coffee trend of enjoying espresso style coffee at home, preferring that over the instant variety.

Sourced Coffee Pods are pleased to bring you one of the most superior choices of coffee pods available, compatible with your home Nespresso machine. Created by experienced and long time Australian specialty roasters Veneziano Coffee Roasters, our pods contain the highest quality coffee we can get our hands on.

Armadale’s Lovebird

The Lovebird


Making a real name for itself in the leafy suburb of Armadale, Victoria, and attracting some excellent reviews is the gorgeous Lovebird cafe…

The Lovebird Armadale VictoriaThe Lovebird Armadale Victoria

Nestled in the heart of the wedding district of Armadale, they are aptly named “the Lovebird”. This big-hearted cafe on Armadale’s High Street has everything you want from your local, showcasing speciality coffee from some of Melbourne’s finest roasters; Veneziano Coffee Roasters and Proud Mary.

They are the only cafe on High Street that provides cold drip, filter and espresso, with a cool funky vibe, personable staff, plus an all day breakfast and lunch menu that piques just about every taste bud.

It’s the little touches that give this place its sweetness; the house-made jams and relishes, local produce, organic free range, and gluten free food. It’s impossible not to leave without a full heart and a stomach.

1102 High Street, Armadale (VIC).

Do yourself a favour and check it out. www.thelovebird.com.au. Check out The Lovebird Menu.

The Lovebird Armadale Victoria best seller

Pan seared fish of the day served with sake soba noodles, baby bok choy, sauteed spinach shallot crisps and a chilli sesame soy dressing

The Lovebird Armadale Victoria best seller

Orange infused buckwheat pancakes with crushed pistachio and bourbon














Craig Simon – World Barista Championship Finalist 2014 – Reveals Processing Innovation to the world in Rimini

Craig Simon World Barista Championship finals performance Rimini 2014

Craig Simon World Barista Championship finals performance -

The World Barista Championships are over for another year which saw Australian candidate Craig Simon of Think Tank Coffee reveal a new coffee processing innovation to the coffee world, perform his best ever with the best coffee he’s ever tasted, to take out a very respectable 4th place out of 55 national competitors.

As Craig himself says, “I feel energised after that final. I really found another level and that is now my baseline going forward”.

Craig’s world quality performance attracted a growing legion of fans and followers throughout the competition and has no doubt inspired a new generation of competition baristas. He’s well and truly cemented the respect of his industry mentors (Craig Dickson, Joseph Brodsky, Pete Licata, Holly Bastin), colleagues (the team at Veneziano Coffee Roasters), fellow Australians and gained attention from the rest of the coffee world.

Craig Simon 2014 World Barista Championship Rimini

Interestingly, Craig’s been touted as kicking off the fourth wave of specialty coffee in this blog article by Kostas Sideris, a freelancer, blogger and barista/coffee trainer at highly recognised vocational college IEK Praxis in Athens, Greece, who attributes this claim to the whole notion of introducing the feedback cycle, as opposed to the typical ‘coffee chain’, that forms the basis of Craig’s presentation.

Craig’s career progression is definitely one of the great examples of the barista’s craft as a profession, the very reason that these competitions exist.

Importantly, Craig developed his own hybrid coffee processing method as a guest at Panama Gesha Estates of Ninety Plus Coffee’s ‘Maker Series’. Craig’s competition coffee was handpicked and processed all by himself, in what was a true experiment to influence the flavour characteristics.

Specialty Coffee Association of America’s (SCAA) President Peter Giuliano, considered an expert on coffee processing, remarked during Craig’s final performance that, “After many years of sourcing coffee [myself], I could say that this is truly an innovation, I haven’t seen it done before”.

Providing commentary during the WBC livestream from Rimini, Peter goes on to explain to viewers that typically coffees are depulped after picking: “Craig’s introduced a pause, before depulping but after picking. Coffee begins to change dramatically immediately after it’s picked, which is why, even though we don’t know a lot about this, this would have changed the flavours. With naturals, the fruit stays on many days. With washed coffees it comes off within a number of hours, what he’s [Craig's] achieved is something down the middle”.

Craig Simon 2014 World Barista Championship Rimini

Craig explains how there was no reference available “For what would work when I developed this hybrid processing method, I believe it’s never been done before. It [the processing method outcome] answered my curiosity at the possibility of combining both processing characteristics within one coffee successfully”.

This processing method was a tremendous opportunity for flavour manipulation in processing experimentation. It has allowed Craig to introduce the fruity character that a natural coffee offers without the overwhelming flavours, as well as the vibrancy and clarity of a washed coffee; something that he was keen to achieve. Naturals have been surrounded by some controversy, as there are some who don’t enjoy the overwhelming characteristics.

To achieve this outcome of combining both characterisitics in the one coffee, he left it in the cherry for the first 16 hours (for sweetness and fruit characteristics) and then pulped and fermented it for 12 hours before rinsing and returning to the drying beds to finish the process.

He continues, “What I did know was, I wanted the the coffee to spend enough time in cherry to capture the characteristics of a natural, but leave enough time for the coffee to still pulp and ferment”.

Craig Simon 2014 World Barista Championship Rimini

“I’d previously learnt from washed experiments about pH versus time, I found the best outcome was at 12 hours, giving the greatest vibrancy and flavour articulation – which is what I was after; any less and the flavours are unclear, any longer and the acidity and flavour qualities are incredibly low”.

On roasting the coffee, Craig says,”I really wanted the fruit character to pop, so I slowed down the roasting between straw and cinnamon, as this is where all the organic acid reactions are occurring. To preserve the roast degree, I slowed down coming into first crack to get the sugar caramelisation without having to go too dark”.

Despite his intimate knowledge of the coffee, Craig made it clear that the most important element of his performance is the feedback! Whether it’s the judges assessing his routine or his general customers back home telling him what they prefer. This arms him with the ability to go back again and make more adjustments at the processing stage to give the customer a coffee they will enjoy even more.

Meanwhile, Craig continues to receive congratulations and acknowledgement on a performance of a lifetime, both verbally and via social media. It seems Pat Connolly, roaster at Veneziano, was right when he called Craig the ‘People’s Champ’. Either way, he was definitely a favourite, a sentiment echoed in the Barista Magazine blog.



Nectarine, lime, silky medium mouthfeel, earl grey bergamot tea


Biscuit base, subtle apricot and a caramel sweetness


Craig invites the judges to select one of two recipes, that highlight predicting future flavour characteristics.

He predicts double time in the cherry would yield a more natural character of rich red stone fruit notes like plum and with a washed characteristic, it would achieve more complex citrus notes. The judges in the final selected the second option, of what the washed coffee would be like:


- espresso
- original note is lime but adding more complexity of acidity with some pink grapefruit (4ml)
- add some subtle sweetness (a character associated with washed coffee) with honey syrup (6ml)
- cold infusion of early grey tea (6ml), cold is important because you can have a longer extaction time that doesn’t overextract extra bitterness, tannins are incredibly soft but more complex
- mineral water (8ml) adds vibrancy and clarity


Veneziano Coffee Roasters becomes the first Australian customer of Sustainable Harvest

Veneziano Coffee Roasters logo Sustainable Harvest Relationship Coffee web logo





It all began when Veneziano Coffee Roasters CEO Craig Dickson said to David Piza of Sustainable Harvest, “You guys are crazy if you don’t do business with Australian roasters. That’s where it’s all happening.”

Six months later, Veneziano is extremely proud to announce that it is Sustainable Harvest’s first Australian client.

The pair met at Sustainable Harvest’s Let’s Talk Coffee event in El Salvador in November 2013, where Craig presented on using specialty Robusta in creating blends in a Let’s Talk Robusta session. David is a Colombia-based relationship coffee manager for Sustainable Harvest.

Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, USA, Sustainable Harvest is a unique coffee importer. The company pioneered the Relationship Coffee Model, which creates personal connections between producer, importer and roaster to ensure a stronger supply chain.

With a permanent presence at origin in various coffee-growing regions around the world, Sustainable Harvest already has established relationships with farmers. The company then makes the introduction from roaster or buyer to farmer.

The discussion and negotiation is totally transparent between grower and buyer; Sustainable Harvest then takes a fixed fee and coordinates the transaction.

According to David, “Our supply team sources the best available coffee produced at each origin with every harvest. Our interest lies in giving international exposure to these farmers.”

“It’s a really great concept,” says Craig. “It gives us access to different growers, we visit and tour the farm, discuss the product and requirements, Sustainable Harvest then implements all the physical aspects of the deal, such as shipping, importing and so on.”

Craig continues: “As a roaster and operator in specialty coffee, and as we experience growth and increased demand for our coffee, it means that we can uphold our stringent quality levels by getting access to quality product from new growers.”

The partnership with Sustainable Harvest, Craig says, will allow the company to continue those efforts. “We are really pleased to be partnering with Sustainable Harvest in our continuous search for quality coffee,” he says. “It suits our long-held belief that no one should have to experience a bad coffee.”

He continues: “There is a constant expectation now of buying quality beans, and we’ve seen this mentality grow from specialty roasters to the larger, traditional roast houses that buy in bulk. This means there is pressure on growers to be more particular about harvesting and processing to produce a better bean, which can only be good for coffee and coffee drinkers as well as for the farmers themselves. Companies such as Sustainable Harvest are supporting them to this end.”

About Let’s Talk Coffee

Let’s Talk Coffee is a large annual event driven by Sustainable Harvest, bringing together supply chain partners including roasters, financiers, educational institutions and NGO representatives.

The unique aspect of this global, invitation-only event is that it’s always held in a coffee-producing country. There is always an elite roster of speakers presenting on cutting-edge topics relevant to the coffee industry.

Says David: “It benefits everybody, but particularly the growers, to hear about concerns, changes and updates in the market. It’s a great forum because we can really talk about anything and everything—even pricing.”

Let’s Talk Coffee enables growers to participate in cuppings with customers and curators and experience feedback first hand, fostering a truly collaborative supply chain.

Craig says, “We find it a really valuable exercise to cup with the producers using their own coffee. Often they don’t know where their coffee is going or where it ends up, even though as a roaster, we know exactly where it’s from.”

About Sustainable Harvest

Sustainable Harvest is unlike any other coffee sourcing and importing company. Besides introducing producers to buyers (mostly roasters), the company:

- Services customers in USA, Canada, Japan, Germany and now Australia.

- Is a specialty coffee importer of high-quality certified coffee. Ninety-three percent is organic and/or fair trade and/or Rainforest Alliance certified, and the company also deals in fully traceable organic decaffeinated coffees.

- Is a Certified B Corporation, an accolade that recognises higher ethical standards of doing business. The movement began in the US, and the framework is geared to “for profit” organisations that want to benefit society as well as their shareholders.

- Ensures that every part of a business deal is conducted with transparency and full traceability.

- Is committed to educating the growers in every aspect that affects a coffee transaction. This extends to risk management and training, setting a minimum floor price, factoring in variances and so on. This shows the farmers how to use the coffee market to their advantage.

- Has 15 Q-Certified cuppers on the books. The company trains its growers and develops their cupping skills so they can assess the quality of their own beans using simple methods, with the focus being on positive and desirable attributes.

- Offers specific education for problem solving. For example, in the case of Roya (coffee leaf rust disease), which has wiped out many coffee crops in Central and South America and Mexico, farmers are educated in topics such as how rust leaf affects beans, how to administer organic treatment and more.

- Has direct relationships with many US ‘Roasters Choice’ and ‘Roaster of the Year’ recipients, including roasters such as Stumptown Coffee Roasters from the early days of the Portland, Oregon coffee movement.

- Has a direct line of trade to other Certified B Corporation businesses with a sustainability conscience, including Ben & Jerry’s.

- Supports alternative income-generating initiatives with coffee growers in Rwanda and Central America, such as beekeeping and mushroom crops, to supplement coffee harvest revenues during non-harvest seasons.

We asked David what he thinks about Australia and the Melbourne coffee scene whilst here during MICE, and he responded: “I love how advanced your coffee culture is! It’s really amazing.”


Craig Simon’s Australian Barista Championship 2014 winning performance

Here is the clip of Think Tank Coffee’s Craig Simon performing his routine in the finals of the 2014 Australian Barista Championship, at MICE (Melbourne International Coffee Expo) over the weekend.

Full result of the final is:

First place – Craig Simon, Think Tank Coffee (608)
Second place – Matt Perger, St Ali (578)
Third place – Habib Maarbani, Mocopan Coffee (553 points)
Fourth place – Sasa Sestic, Ona Coffee (552 points)
Fifth place – Hugh Kelly, Ona Coffee (550.5 points)
Sixth place – Matt Lewin, Axil Coffee Roasters (547 points)

Craig Simon extends heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Joseph Brodsky and Steve Holt from Ninety Plus Coffee for allowing him to process his own coffee at the Estate in Panama and to Pete Licata and Holly Bastin for their coaching and support.

Lastly, a massive thank you to his World Barista Championship SPONSORS, without whom it wouldn’t be possible to compete:

Pura/Preferred Milk     DaVinci Gourmet (Australia)     Cafetto     Compak Coffee Grinding Company     Tea Drop     AMC Roastery Supply     Aberdeen Paper

Craig Simon is the 2014 Australian Barista champion for 2014

Click image to launch clip




Craig Simon – Insight to a Champion Barista’s Coffee

Craig Simon 2Australian Barista Champion 2014 Veneziano Coffee Roasters Think Tank Coffee
- newly crowned Australian Barista Champion 2014 Craig Simon and his competition journey -


Craig Simon has been competing in the Australian Specialty Coffee Association’s barista championships, the most recognised in the industry, since 2008. Last month he took out his second ever Victorian Barista Championship title and over the weekend his second Australian Barista Championship in May (he previously won the national title in 2012).


Craig’s winning presentation was all about what he describes as the coffee cycle, not the traditional chain of bean to cup, based on the idea that feedback from the coffee drinker will improve the next series of the coffee as the refinements are applied in each relevant step of the process. He even invited the national judging panel on a ‘date’ in a year’s time to taste the next lot of coffee, so they can experience the impact of their feedback.


What makes a winner?


The main aim of competing is to create a competition-winning coffee, to present something spectacular. There are many factors at play. One of the most important is having a respected mentor to support and foster your coffee development, and in Craig Simon’s case this is none other than Veneziano Coffee Roasters’ managing director, Craig Dickson. Dickson encouraged Simon to discover everything he could about coffee, pushing his knowledge and experience to the limits.

So, what has Craig learned exactly and how did he apply this knowledge? We’ve all heard time and again that many factors influence the flavour profile of coffee, from the growing conditions, the processing methods employed between harvest time and delivery, to roasting and preparation.


Enter Ninety Plus Coffees, a relatively young coffee producer that is achieving some incredible results by putting the focus on processing in order to obtain specific taste profiles. Instead of just following the typical methods of coffee processing and looking for an expected flavour outcome, the small team at Ninety Plus work in innovative ways to change the parameters of processing methods that influence the desired flavour outcomes.


According to Craig,”This whole concept, of being able to achieve a deliberate taste profile versus one that happens by default, is something that really resonates with me, not just for a competition performance coffee, but for any coffee. And to be able to spend some time with the Ninety Plus crew in Panama for the 2014 harvest was an incredible experience, truly inspiring”.


Aim and Methodology


Craig Simon 2014 Australian Barista Champion Veneziano Coffee Roasters Think Tank Coffee

“I knew that with my coffee, I wanted to capture the fruitiness and sweetness from a natural processed coffee, and combine it with the flavour sparkling acidity and vibrancy that you get from a washed coffee, as these are qualities I enjoy out of each”, explains Craig.


Here’s how it happened: first up, Craig was paired with a “super picker”, a guy named Benjamin who’d been trained in cherry selection perfection. Only the sweetest, ripest, reddest Gesha cherries were added to the daily picking baskets, resulting in a final 30kg yield of only the most beautiful cherries.


“It may sound simple however it was extremely challenging to find the right people with both the patience and the passion for getting it, well… perfect. Many of the pickers didn’t last. Even a higher wage couldn’t convince them to stay, they found the work was too difficult and slow”.


He goes on to say, “Because of Benjamin, who was much quicker than I was, and the pride he took in showing me what he’d picked at the end of each day, I genuinely wanted to do well for his sake as much as my own knowing I’d be representing his hard work”.


The next step was for Craig to apply his own processing profile, which he’d based on previous washed coffee experiments during visits to El Salvador and India. As part of the unique Ninety Plus Maker Series program, special industry guests are invited to join Ninety Plus on the farm and gain an insight to their processing formulae, then adapt the parameters to create signature recipes. This program has recently expanded to include, “The experimentation of our best flavour making masters from the market side, those who are driven to the ultimate in detailed coffee work as baristas and roasters”, according to Joseph Brodsky from Ninety Plus Coffees.


A first for Craig Simon in creating his own drying technique, his strategy was to leave the coffee in cherry on raised beds for the first 16 hours, followed by fermentation by which time the coffee was releasing a sweet and fruity, intense peachy aroma, then it was rinsed and returned to raised beds.


“Considering that it’s not standard practice to leave the coffee in cherry before it’s pulped – it’s seen as risky for fermentation, which to me seems counterintuitive as natural coffees taste so great – however I chose to leave the cherries overnight in a single layer on the raised bed. I was aiming to capture a bit of extra fruit note in the coffee and extra jammy sweetness”, states Craig. “Next year I’ll be looking to fine-tune the parameters even further”.




Joseph was delighted with the results of his and Craig’s first collaborative effort, with Craig’s results setting the tone for the Ninety Plus Maker Series, saying “Craig’s selections were the first naturally fermented washed profiles we have made at Ninety Plus Gesha Estates, every cherry was handled as a perfect and delicate newborn baby”.


“The 2014 Craig Simon Maker Series signature WCS (Washed Craig Simon) and HCS (Honey Craig Simon) coffees are impeccable in their green and golden beauty, and his fermentation parameters have teased a
From a roasting viewpoint, the aim is always the same: maximise flavour articulation with all of the tactile elements in tact. “I have a strong intuition or understanding of how far I can manipulate the coffee in the roaster and what it will give me to play with at the machine, I understand the roasting style I need for my extraction skills, so I more or less know what will come out of the spouts”, says Craig, speaking from unquestionable experience.


Nonetheless, the resulting coffee he used to compete with – Craig Simon Maker Series washed – was superb enough to win him the Victorian and Australian barista titles as he now prepares to take on the World.


Taste Profile

Craig’s taste descriptors as presented to the judges in the Australian final:

- apricot (attributed to the time spent in the cherry)
- lime (from the time spent rinsing and fermenting)
- silky medium mouthfeel
- earl grey tea/bergamot tannic finish


- nectarine, lime, silky medium mouthfeel, earl grey tea tannic finish


- cheescake biscuit base, stone fruit softening into apricot, caramel note


- 6ml prune reduction (heated to bring out the aromatics)
- 4ml brown sugar syrup (to mimic the coffee flavours had it spent more time in the natural cherry during processing), gives the extra sweetness of rich stone fruit notes
- 6ml earl grey tea reduction brewed cold, brings softer more delicate but complex tannins, greater viscosity
- 8ml mineral water, adds sparkling clarity and mimics the washing process, bridges the flavours being added to the espresso


Find lime notes of espresso in first mouthful, rich prune notes and brown sugar sweetness sitting on soft tannic earl grey tea in the second mouthful.


Ninety Plus – No stranger to success


In 2013 alone, Ninety Plus specialty coffees from Panama and Ethiopia put their firm stamp on the coffee world through success in the national barista and brewers cup championships of Greece, Switzerland, Italy, Korea, Tawain and Canada. Three of the top six finalists in last year’s World Barista (Italy and Korea) and Brewers Cup Championships (Canada), held at MICE in Melbourne, competed with Ninety Plus Coffees. Early adopters and educated consumers are embracing these rare, premium microlot coffees that are being produced by Ninetly Plus.




Craig Simon is the 2014 Australian Barista Champion

Think Tank Coffee is the brainchild of Craig Simon, an award-winning Australian barista and roaster. Think Tank is about collaborating with coffee producers and equipment designers to create a space where the coffee obsessed can find everything that is new or amazing in the world of specialty coffee.


As an award-winning barista and roaster (Australian and Victoria Barista Champion 2014 and 2012, licensed Q grader, Veneziano Coffee Roasters head roaster 2010-2012), Craig Simon is ready and able to pass on his knowledge including sourcing green coffee, blending and roasting to profile and the intricacies of creating a great cup of coffee at the machine.


Coffee innovations represented by Think Tank Coffee in Australia include; the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s (SCAA) “Best New Product”, the revolutionary new Steampunk brewing system, green bean specialty coffee by producer and developer, Ninety Plus and training in all aspects of coffee selection, roasting, blend creation, machine recommendations and performance, and advanced barista skills.