Experimental Lot – our naturally processed coffee from Guatemala

– by Ben Romeril, General Manager Veneziano Coffee Roasters

We have been using a Guatemalan coffee as a key component of our Bella blend since we first released it. But we weren’t entirely happy with the quality of the coffee or the local broker’s offers. We wanted to go beyond the ‘supermarket’ and direct to the ‘farm’. So we thought, why not go to Origin and source it ourselves? We had read amazing things about the country in terms of its rich volcanic soil, high altitudes and lush rainforests. We had previously tasted amazing Guats so we were excited to visit this exotic place for ourselves.

Direct trade is becoming increasingly popular in the coffee industry, and it’s spoken about more often but in reality it is a difficult process to manage. You have to find an exporter who has the connections, speaks the language, knows the customs and has a road map to get you around! Plus, the ability to get it milled and exported through the region’s beaurocracy.

After many skype dates, we found Ensoluna. Owner Daniel Yancor works with some specialty industry heavyweights and their chief cupper is Hector Gonzalez, World Cup Tasters Champion 2010. We thought this was the perfect place to start so we booked flights, arranged our visas and off we went starry-eyed and very naive about the journey ahead of us.

Simo had taken out hostage insurance but neglected to tell me until we landed. Needless to say we all learnt a lot on this trip!

We clocked up some serious miles, having visited four regions in five days. We discovered a bunch of farms growing some brilliant coffee, each processing them slightly differently. Some farms were advanced with moisture and density readers and even mechanical dryers. While others were more traditional, lacking attention to detail such as tiling their water tanks or piling coffee too high on the patio. Despite this, they all shared incredible talent with the potential to produce intense and complex coffees. What they were eager for was a buyer and so were made to feel very welcome and treated as royalty.

We purchased a number of microlots but the most exciting was processing our very own experimental lot. We chose a Yellow Bourbon varietal at Finca Colombia with Réne Méndez and experimented with drying this naturally on raised beds. Réne had never done this before. Natural processed coffees are the norm in Guatemala because the weather is quite cool so naturals generally dry too slow and often over ferment.

We followed the usual recipe of floating away unripes then laid the coffee on raised beds for 18 days in a single layer. We turned the coffee twice daily to encourage even drying. The raised beds provided better air circulation to dry the coffee. It was a risk but with lots of attention to detail, we think it worked! The coffee arrived last week and needless to say we were pretty excited to cup it. It has significantly more body and fruit characteristics than washed guats and we get notes of stewed apricot, caramel, orange citrus with viscous body and juicy acidity.

We’re very happy with the result and we have a small amount available for sale, which we will release in September. Judge it for yourself; we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Here’s a short diary from our trip, and a little sneak peak into what you could expect should you join us on our next adventure…!


Our first origin trip to Guatemala. After a few missed flight connections and 58 hours of travel we got in a car and drove 5 hours from Guatemala city airport to Quetzeltanango to cup some coffee samples.

Day 1 (Quetzeltanango) – We arrived at Quetzeltanango and got straight into the cupping. In Australia we cup coffees around the world but often at origin they only cup their region, so the SCAA cupping form is great way to calibrate and ensure we’re all on the same page with regards to how we’re cupping the coffees.

Day 2 (Huehuetenango Guatemala) – from Quetzeltanango we jumped back in the 4×4 and drove 8 hours up the most amazingly beautiful but steep terrain I think I have traveled. We went up and down three 2000m high mountains on rocky dirt goat trails. We were passed by a number of trucks at a great speed along cliffs where you would swear there is not enough space and a 1000m sheer drop inches from peril!
But it was all worth it when we got to Finca Portomay and met Herbert Ruiz, the Perez family and their workers. What a view, and such beautiful warm and welcoming people. We stayed overnight, as it’s too dangerous to navigate the roads after dark. Tasty coffee as well! Yum! 

Day 3 (Finca Portomay to Finca Las Rosas) – another 8 hour journey to meet Rolando the owner of Finca Las Roses. Rolando showed us around his beautiful farm where he had planted a number of different varietal lots. He pointed out the flavour and plant differences between them all. He is a very proud farmer doing some great work and as a result he placed 15th in last year’s Cup of Excellence.

Day 4 (HueHuetenango to Lake Atitlan) – So today we traveled to visit Jose Ramirez, his dad Jose and Jeremy his nephew at the Jrashawn Benefico named after Jose’s mum. Jose, his dad and his 4 brothers are all named Jose. This took another 8 hours in the car and a Miami Vice style boat ride at top speed across the stunning Lake Atitlan.

Located at Panajachel, Lago De Atitlan, this wet mill has been built over the last year by Jose and his dad to help process the cherries from close to a thousand local farmers. A while ago the coffee price fell to 40c per pound and a lot of farm owners went broke. To pay their workers they divided up their land into tiny plots (parcels) and gave each worker the title as payment for their work. As they are so small they can only produce about 3-5 bags of coffee each per year and certainly not enough for their own wet mill so Jrashawn was started. It works like a co-op but is not currently licensed as one. Jose also runs a nursery with lots of farming experiments from different varietals to pruning experiments etc and helps to teach the many farm owners how to get the best from their coffee trees. He’s doing some really cool work he and achieving some great results so far. We were the first to sign his visitors book!

Day 5 (Finca Hermosa & Finca Colombia) – Today we met two farmers making some great coffee. 

Max at Finca Hermosa, Acatenango is a young guy with big plans and access to some equipment that most other farms in the area do not have such as density readers and mechanical dryers.  

Réne at Finca Colombia, Antigua. This farm has over 100 years of history and is where we got to experiment with our own naturally processed lot! We set about making some full natural yellow bourbon dried on raised beds. Natural processed coffee is incredibly rare in Guatemala and we are very happy Rene let us experiment with 100lbs of natural coffee with him. Can’t wait to see how it turns out in a few months time. Another long but great day.

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Coffee of the Month – Ethiopia Hachira, Ninety Plus Coffee

Our Coffee of the Month for August is Ethiopia Hachira from Ninety Plus Coffees. This coffee is inspired by the Ninety Plus Aricha selections developed with S.A. Bagersh from 2006-2008. Hachira coffees are juicy and floral, commonly with concentrated elderberry to blackberry fruit, sometimes with basil-like herbal notes.

Tasting notes: juicy, elderberry, blackberry, toffee, basil, vanilla, floral.

To celebrate the new 2015 crop, we’re giving away limited edition Ninety Plus Coffee Hachira tins to three lucky buyers of this coffee during August. Simply visit our online shop to purchase and go into the draw. Competition closes 31st August 2015.

Hachira Tins

Veneziano staff appointment – Leigh Carmichael

Veneziano Coffee Roasters welcomes ASCA judge and coffee industry veteran Leigh Carmichael to the new role of trainer and key account manager based at our roastery Brisbane’s West End.

Leigh brings a wealth of specialty coffee knowledge and experience to the team. This newly developed role will focus on managerial aspects of training, including a focus on train the trainer which is the next step in Leigh’s career path.

Leigh will work alongside our Victorian Training team lead by Jade Jennings and Erin Sampson, as well as Veneziano’s Queensland state manager Luke Gowty and state sales manager Jean-Paul Sutton.

She also looks forward to working with national business manager Lance Brown and CEO Craig Dickson, having crossed paths with them for a few years working on ASCA events.

Leigh fondly farewells Mocopan where she spent 18 months as the Queensland barista trainer.

Previously, she worked as an independent consultant in the coffee industry for eight years as well as a trainer with Retail Food Group. Leigh’s entry in the coffee industry together with her husband Geoff Michelmore, business development manager at Espresso Mechanics, was via their mobile business, Bean Stalking.

We look forward to welcoming Leigh to the team!


Cafe Review – Red Brick Cafe

Red Brick Café is just that, a sweet little red brick building nestled in the leafy suburb of Surrey Hills, about 20 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD. Surrounded by some of Melbourne’s most incredible homes, Red Brick Café is the go to spot for these lucky locals to catch up over some good food and equally delicious coffee.

Red Brick Café celebrated its one-year anniversary a couple of weeks ago, and in just those 12 month alone they have managed to build a pretty big name for themselves in the area.

Red Brick Café is owned by Chris and Bruce. Chris kindly took 15 minutes out of his busy morning to explain to me how they started and just how quickly their business took off.

“Our trade has increased steadily since we took over the café 12-months ago, and is continuing to soar, especially on the weekend. We have a lot of regulars who we’ve come to know quite well, which we absolutely love.”

“When Bruce and I set out to start our own business it was our dream to have a place where we could build relationships with our customers and welcome them into a place that really feels like an extension of our homes. We do all we can to make people feel comfortable and special after dining with us.” said Chris.

I had never been to Red Brick Café before but I left feeling like I had known Chris, Bruce and their lovely team of 7, for years. Not to mention they served me up a delicious flat white and a pretty amazing meal of corn fritters and poached eggs – probably the best I’ve had in a long time. I’m also told the baked eggs are a winner so I’ll definitely be back to try that one out soon.

By the way they run their business you would think Chris and Bruce have been in the hospitality business for years, but they are actually quite new to it. While Chris has spent a bit of time managing cafes back over in Western Australia, his background is in managing doctors surgeries. Bruce as well has a background in IT, the medical industry and printing.  Given they are relatively new to the café game, they have recognised just how important good customer service and a good cup of coffee is!


Location: 215 Mont Albert Road, Surrey Hills

Hours: Weekdays 7am – 4pm, Weekends 8am – 3pm

Coffee: Veneziano Coffee – Forza Blend

Facebook: facebook.com/redbrickcafe


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Café Review – Alcove Cafe and Deli, QLD

Sep Marchitto and Fergus Parker opened Alcove Cafe and Deli in July 2012 in Wilston, Queensland.  Since the day the doors opened they have together placed their focus on bringing together the best local flavours from South East Queensland, mainly from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast.

Sep and Fergus share a passion for fine food and amazing coffee. Their passion is obvious from the minute you walk into Alcove. All their meals are made fresh to order in house from local, seasonal produce. There’s something about homemade banana bread that we just cant go by, but topped with your choice of honey ricotta or macadamia paste – it’s extra special. Pair it with a perfect, silky latte – what more could you ask for!

If you’re hungry you can’t go past the Italian eggs. Slow cooked Italian sausages in a rich tomato sauce served with poached eggs on organic sourdough.

In their lives before Alcove, Sep owned a small cafe in Brisbane’s CBD and following this, a florist and cafe on the city’s outskirts. Fergus, with a background in hospitality and service development, experimented with a career in digital marketing before returning to the world of hospitality.

With their powers and experience combined they are kicking goals and are proud to part of the Wilston community. (The Wilston community is pretty pleased to have them and their fine food too!)

So next time you’re down in Wilston drop by the Village for a bite to eat and a coffee or take home some amazing local produce.


Location: 92b Kedron Brook Rd, Wilston, QLD

Hours: M T W T F S S 6am – 2pm

Coffee: Veneziano Coffee – Forza Blend

Website: www.alcovecafe.com.au

Facebook: facebook.com/Alcove-Cafe-and-Deli

Instagram: instagram.com/alcove_cafe/


Alcove Cafe and Deli  Alcove Veneziano Forza BlendAlcove Italian Eggs Prawn caserecci

Bond St Autumn 2.0

Bond St Bag on window1The new Bond St has hit the shelves and it’s a special one.

Due to the popularity of our Autumn blend, we’ve decided to extend it by another month, but in our constant quest to improve our coffee, we have included Ninety Plus Coffee’s Nekisse as the natural Ethiopian component to the blend.

This stays true to the original Autumn flavour profile but brings even more depth and complexity with its vibrant berry notes. Coupling this with our latest shipment direct from Columbia and the sweet, juicy Rwanda Kanyege, has created a beautifully balanced and complex espresso blend. As a black coffee it has a heavy syrupy body, vibrant sparkling acidity with notes of raspberry, currants and brown sugar. In milk it’s just a superb – well rounded with notes of vanilla custard and blackcurrant with a sweet brown sugar finish. 


Processing: Natural N2; Variety: Heirloom; Altitude: 1,700 – 1,900m

This coffee is one of our favourites every year. Creamy, caramelised mouthfeel. Heavy berry jam with citrus bordering and a distinct floral aroma.


Processing: Washed; Varietal: Caturra; Altitude: 1,800-1,900m

This lot comes from one of the highest growing points of La Cascada, one of our Colombian direct trade partners. Big bodied, vibrant acidity, stone fruit notes and a high sweetness.


Processing: Washed; Varietal: Red Bourbon; Altitude: 1,780-2,000m

Kanyege is one of the newest washing stations in Rwanda. Located in Rwanda’s Western Province, over 700 small holder farmers sell ripe cherries directly to the station. This particular lot has a rich creamy body and provides the blend with strong blackcurrant and sugary notes.

The Bond St Autumn 2.0 blend is only available for a limited time so head into one of our cafes or buy it from our online shop today. 

The evolution of roasting profiles and espresso standards

July workshopThis month we kick off our monthly workshops at our new roastery in Richmond.

Craig Simon hosts the July workshop and will delve into the art of matching your espresso extraction to different roast profiles.

He will discuss  the evolution of roasting methods; today’s extraction standards and; how to adjust your extraction ratios to suit roast profiles.

After the workshop join us at the Mountain Goat Brewery for drinks and pizza.

This event is open to the public and free to attend but places are limited.

Please RSVP asap via Eventbrite to attend.

Where: 16 River Street, Richmond

When: 22nd July, 4pm – 8pm

RSVP: Eventbrite


Last week on a wintery Melbourne day, I visited MILK Café in Balwyn and instantly forgot about the gloomy weather as I was greeted by the lovely mother-son duo running this exceptional suburban cafe. 

Opened in March 2014, MILK is a quaint and cosy little café nestled in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs and is operated by Debbie and Alex Smith.

Debbie has over ten years’ experience running successful cafes in the Melbourne suburbs previously occupying spaces in Malvern East and Ashburton. After taking a small break she got back into the café scene after stumbling on the perfect little space in Balwyn and we’re sure glad she did because it’s an absolute gem.

Alex’s interest in coffee started at Milk Cloud in Ashburton when he would spend Saturdays on the machine helping Debbie with the bustling trade. It was here he realised his passion for making coffee and has since taken up position of head barista at MILK.

Debbie has been serving Veneziano’s Forza blend for the past 5 ½ years and has never looked back. And Alex’s passion for coffee is obvious as you watch him work his magic behind that incredible looking La Marzocco and serve up his work of art with pride in their stunning collection of pastel crockery.

MILK stands for ‘Mum in her little kitchen’ and once you visit you’ll understand why. Each and every meal on the well-executed menu is made fresh-to-order by Debbie herself. 

My friend ordered the haloumi with pan roasted cherry tomatoes, pickled zucchini and grilled bread. It was a real treat with a little pickled zucchini surprise taking the dish to the next level. I was having one of those avocado days so unsurprisingly ordered the avocado with fetta lemon and cherry tomato on toast. Served on gorgeous crockery and sprinkled with black sesame seeds – I was pretty happy!

The fit out is the perfect balance of homely and quirky, modern design and it really is the perfect space for a quick coffee or a longer stay to catch up with friends over some delicious food.

This favourite haunt for Balwyn locals is worth the drive – do it before it’s no longer a secret!

Location: 186 Belmore Road, Balwyn North, Victoria 3103

Hours: M T W T F  7:30am – 3pm

Coffee: Veneziano Coffee – Forza Blend

Instagram: www.instagram.com/milk.cafe

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Caleb’s World Success – A New Latte Art champion

Caleb Tiger Cha celebrating win WLAC 2015 World Latte Art ChampionCaleb Tiger Cha celebrating win WLAC 2015 World Latte Art ChampionCaleb Tiger Cha celebrating win WLAC 2015 World Latte Art Champion

GOTHENBUG – SCAE’s (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) Nordic World of Coffee hosted this year’s coffee championships in World Latte Art (WLAC), World Coffee in Good Spirits (WCGS), World Brewer’s Cup (WBrC), World Cup Tasting (WCTC) and World Coffee Roasting (WCRC).

A jubilant Caleb Cha, Australian Latte Art champion from Cafenatics in Melbourne competed, and won, in the solid favourite WLAC in front of an admiring world audience and an elated Australian home crowd on livestream, taking the country’s winnings to two World championships this year. Norway also took home two World titles from the event, WBrC and WCRC. Current World Barista Champion Australian Sasa Sestic, an avid supporter, was present at the finals performance in Gothenburg. Caleb’s victory was made even sweeter after he proposed to his girlfriend and coach, Alice Jeong, on the World stage, and she said ‘yes!’

His win is an amazing feat when you consider he only entered his first Latte Art competition a year ago, in which he competed and placed runner up in both the Victorian and Australian Latte Art championships. It was enough to motivate him to continue and ultimately achieve this great result in Gothenburg, all within a year, an event that will propel his coffee career forward.

Caleb always puts it down simply to practice. “The more you practice and repeat, the better and sharper your patterns become. And, the more confident you become, pouring becomes second nature and you develop steady hands. This lets you work faster with less errors”, he says.

“I can thank Erin Sampson for sharing her tips and tricks with me during last year’s competition prep[aration], and again this year both Erin and Jade (from Veneziano) helped me out with some competition style run-throughs, it definitely helped”, explains Caleb.

When we spoke to Caleb after the heats he reported he was feeling great, though he felt his now famous zebra pattern could have been better. “It [the zebra design] could have been more perfect, but I am aiming to improve it for the finals. I’m aiming for better contrast, more definition… You will see the best design ever!” he said with confidence. When asked if he’d take some time off after the competition he replied with, “Oh no, I must get back, my bosses [at Cafenatics] need me, they were good enough to give me the time off to come here and be a part of it all.”

However since his win, it appears things may not go back to normal as he’s intended, as he was immediately surrounded by sponsors and inundated by fans for photos and ‘selfies’. At the time of the announcement, his initial reaction was one of disbelief, but he eventually came to. After his win, we asked him again, “What are your plans now?”. “I don’t know”, he replies, with a smile. And, we believe him.

Caleb thanks all who supported him including his number one support Alice, his bosses at Cafenatics Equitable Place and 367 (Melbourne), Joseph Haddad and the team at Code Black Coffee Roasters, Australians Lance Brown and Jeremy Regan judging at WLAC, and everyone at Veneziano.

He also gives a huge thanks and appreciation to Cafenatics, Pura Milk, Cafetto, Service Sphere, Mahlkönig and MICE2016 for their generous support in getting him to Sweden.

WLAC Top 3 Results

1st Caleb Cha, from Cafenatics, Australia.

2nd Xuechao Wang, from Jiangbeilerean Coffee, China.

3rd Kyeong-woo Jung, from Corea Coffee Belt, South Korea.

Caleb Tiger Cha celebrating win WLAC 2015 World Latte Art Champion  Caleb Tiger Cha celebrating win WLAC 2015 World  Latte Art Champion  Caleb Tiger Cha celebrating win WLAC 2015 World  Latte Art Champion


Other competition results:


1st Odd-Steinar Tøllefsen, from Supreme Roastworks, Norway.

2nd Konstantinos Iatridis, from Taf Coffee, Greece.

3rd Benjamin Prager, from Bear Brothers & Cow, Switzerland.


1st George Koustoumpardis, from The Underdog, Greece.

2nd Ondrej Hurtík, from Doubleshot, Czech Republic.

3rd Paul Ungureanu, from Paul Ungureanu Consulting, Romania.


1st Juan Gabriel Cespedes, from Ecomtrading, Costa Rica.

2nd Mateusz Petlinski, from Woyton Roast Inc, Germany.

3rd Yoeri Joosten, from Boot Koffie, The Netherlands.

4th Krisse McGregor, from Coffee Lab, New Zealand.


1st Audun Sørbotten, from Audun Coffee, Norway.

2nd Joanna Alm, from Drop Coffee, Sweden.

3rd Minkeun Choi, from Coffee HOW’S, South Korea.

Cafenatics: http://www.cafenatics.com.au/locations/367-collins

Caleb: http://facebook.com/calebtigers

International Women’s Coffee Alliance, Byron Bay

By Jade Jennings, Veneziano Coffee Roasters Training & Development Manager

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to attend the first meeting for the Australian chapter of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) from 13 – 15 June.

A trip to Byron Bay and Northern NSW was on the agenda with the opportunity to visit some of Australian’s own coffee growing regions and hear the stories of the women growing, processing & roasting it.

To be honest, I was unsure what I could really bring to the table and the thought of this being some sort of secret women’s society almost turned me off the idea. But I thought maybe I had it all wrong, and that I should take the chance, even if it was just for the opportunity to visit origin in my very own backyard. And I’m so glad I did as I left feeling reassured and excited about the intent of the IWCA.

We spent the weekend visiting some truly breathtaking estates including Zeta’s, Byron Blue and Zentveld’s as well as sampling the amazing food and coffee of the local specialty café scene. After spending time with some simply inspiring women in our industry we finished with the reason why we had all made the pilgrimage; to discuss the first steps in starting the Australian chapter for the IWCA.

The IWCA first began in 2003 when two women planned a women-only coffee trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Their goal was to encourage a better understanding of the issues faced by women at origin and to create connections between women in all segments of the coffee industry.

Christine Cottrel of Perfect Espresso and Amelia Franklin of Fair Trade Coffee Roasters in Bellingen were inspired by the story and have since pioneered the Australian chapter.

The IWCA is a global peer network of women in coffee that:

  • Advocates for all women from seed to cup;
  • Provides access to resources; and
  • Provides a forum for connection.

Their mission is to empower women in the international coffee community to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives and to encourage and recognise the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry.

Australia is both a producing and consuming country of coffee. Not only do we have a social responsibility to assist neighbouring producing countries in supporting the women in every link of the chain while producing the coffee we buy, but we also have the opportunity to work with some amazing producers right here in Australia to assist in putting our coffee on the world stage.

In doing this we can link producers from Australia to countries in our local vicinity to network and share ideas to help develop crops right through to the final product so all parties involved benefit.

Along the way we will be providing the opportunity for women at all levels to get involved in different aspects of the industry, whether it be picking cherries, processing, roasting, technical demonstrations so that they can not only gain a greater understanding of the product they work with but to further their knowledge and promote industry growth.

The first steps to achieve this are to:

  • Create a network forum for Australian women in the coffee industry;
  • Document our female coffee history in a digital book; and
  • Develop channels to share our stories and gain knowledge through mentoring programs.

The biggest thing that really rang true for me was that the IWCA isn’t about putting men down and creating an exclusive club, rather it’s a platform to support women in the industry by setting up networks to create sustainability in all aspects of the word.

The group that attended on the weekend is an extremely small segment of women involved in the industry so we are seeking all women from every link in the chain including producers, buyers, roasters, distributors, baristas, trainers, technicians, operations and retailers to find out more.

The second meeting will be at The Coffee Experience, Sydney, 3 – 5 September.

For more information and to register please contact with Christine & Amelia:



This is a really exciting time for not only women in coffee but for the industry as a whole. We have the opportunity to work with Australian growers, assist neighbouring producers and provide a network system to open doors for future generations to come.