This month some of our subscribers will become acquainted with the delicious, fruit forward flavours of Mick's signature blend and single origin filter roasts. These passion-fuelled flavours are brought to you by the wonderful Suzy - Head Roaster and Director of Mick's Coffee.
I met Suzy at the shared Alexandria roastery space that she uses to roast her small batch delicacies. I smell the roastery before I locate it at the back of the warehouse lot, nestled amongst an eclectic mix of businesses - from furniture manufacturers, linen traders and home of the Sydney-famous Tuga Pastries.
The smell of roasting green beans is different to that incredible aroma that hits you when you first open a bag of fresh coffee. It's more acidic and acute, but it still conjors a sense of excitement and anticipation, much like the first cup of the day. Suzy was busy bagging up a fresh batch of single origin filter brew that she was pre-grinding for a handful of my Brew Sip Happy customers when I arrived. She greeted me with a warm smile and hug, like we'd known each other for years. We'd been emailing back and forth for a few weeks arranging orders and chatting about our experience as new small business operators. But this was the first time we'd met in person.
Suzy is as delightful as her coffee origin story.
Mick's gets its name from Suzy's beloved Granded who is 90 years young, and was once a fruit farmer in Adelaide. He operated on farmers fuel from dawn til dusk - coffee, brewed every which way depending on the mood; from moka pot, to espresso to french press or even cold brew. Inspired by his hard working example, Suzy's decision to begin her own coffee journey is to honour the hard working farmers, pickers, producers and all the people that create a part of the coffee supply chain.
I especially love how Suzy has weaved this into the branding elements of her logo and packaging - the wavy lines of her logo represent the murray river which reflects her love of the land, and all that nature provides us. The repeated wave pattern is also a nod to the crop fields - rows upon rows of vines or fruit trees from Mick's farm. The bright colours represent an abundance of happiness and gratitude for the famers, as well as the diverse range of fruit flavours that Suzy works towards in her signature roasts. The finishing touch - a 'roast date' sticker on the Mick's packaging mimics the oval fruit stickers that you see branding your batlow apples or Nippy's Valencias.
Suzy gives me a quick tour of her space, and we take a look at the sexy Probat roaster in action before heading across to Tuga's for a coffee and a chat. She admits she's feeling nervous about being interviewed, but all that came through was her clear passion and love of coffee and all things roasting.
When did you first fall in love with coffee? I fell in love with coffee at first sip as a teen, and then re-fell in love when I learnt about the journey and how many lives it enriches from crop to cup.
What do you love most about what you do? Being able to support farmers from all over the world, also having a coffee community here in Sydney has brought me so much joy.
What sets your Roastery apart from others? Being completely transparent with where our beans come from and shining a spotlight on the farmers, growers, wash stations and co-ops. All Info is on our packaging, images of origin on social media and website.
What can people expect from your coffee? Variety, bright fruity flavours
Where do your beans come from? My blend is from Colombia and Papua New Guinea. My single origins are from Bolivia and Ethiopia
What's the toughest part of the roasting process?
The toughest is roasting a new variety or process for the first time. You don’t know exactly how the bean will react to the heat. You only have seconds to adjust the heat.
What's your No.1 Tip for Home Baristas to making the perfect cup of coffee?
Don’t be afraid of playing around with grind size, extraction amount and time. It could release different flavour profiles and notes. And if it tastes good to you, then that’s all that matters!
Is 'tasting' coffee a skill or craft that you can hone over time? How have you approached this aspect of refining your palette to understand the complexities of tasting coffee?
Yes, it’s much like wine tasting. It’s a full sensory experience, and so you have to really learn to how to focus on the different smells and tastes that you're experiencing around your tongue and mouth. I had to start being more conscious about the food I was tasting, and retrain my brain to truly appreciate different fruit flavours. So one way is by not mixing foods - for example just eating a banana by itself and really consciously tasting it and committing that flavour to memory.
What do you have planned for 2022? or What are you most excited about?
New single origins with exciting processes, cool new retail spots, drip bags, community support
As a small batch roaster, what are some of the steps you're taking to be a more eco-conscious business?
We work exclusively with ethical, like-minded suppliers with sustainable practices to source green beans for our single origins that are on rotation. I buy and roast small batches to avoid wastage and use recyclable packaging that is also carbon neutral.
How have you found entering the coffee industry as a female roaster? I have had such a great experience. The coffee roasting community is incredibly supportive, and refreshingly down to earth. Although I'm one of the only females in the local community that I'm a part of, I've not felt the least bit discouraged by other male roasters - they've all been amazingly supportive and generous with their help, advice, and sharing.
What's one thing you wish you knew before going into the Roasting business? I wish I was more prepared to deal with 'the hustle' that it takes. I love being behind the scenes, mixing recipes and focusing on flavours, but there is so much selling and networking that you have to do, which I really didn't know about.
What is one of your major goals for Mick's in the future? I'd really love to give back to the community in some way. I'd love to get into a position where I can give to a charity or community group, and support others.
Speaking of coffee, how do you take yours? I like to mi(cks) it up! Depending on the weather and time. Usually, I start with a long espresso or strong oat flattie, then I treat myself to a single-origin V60 pour-over.
True to her word, we ordered a delightfully bright and refreshing cold brew to sip on during our chat at Tuga. The perfect match for a humid afternoon sitting in the sunshine.
Finally, what was the best cup of coffee you've ever had? Can you recall who made it and what made it so special? I went to a tasting of Prodigal Coffee by Scott Rao, in particular the washed pink bourbon from Colombia had us screaming!
I can't wait for my Brew Sip Happy Customers to give Mick's whirl in the coffee machine through March and April. Its so great support such a passionate and down to earth, hard working roaster. What an absolute pleasure and privilege to hear her story, see her work space and borrow her time.