Welcome to White Horse Coffee - our June Feature Roaster

Since 2008, Dom, Head of Coffee and Co-Founder of White Horse Coffee has been at the helm of this renowned roastery, but his love affair with coffee began long before that. From his early days in the hospitality industry to becoming a pivotal figure in the coffee world, Dom’s journey is as rich and complex as the brews he creates. Let's dive into his story, his passion, and what makes White Horse Coffee a standout in the coffee community.

As we do with all of our Feature Roasters, we asked a few questions to get to know Dom and tjhe White Horse team a little better;


How long have you been in the coffee business?

"We started White Horse in 2008, however, I have been behind the machine since the Olympic Games in 2000."

How did you get into the coffee game?

"As a young adult, I was working in hotels. After some years in catering and functions, I was asked to transfer to the restaurant. Upon landing in the restaurant, it became apparent that I needed to learn how to make coffee. The restaurant manager sent me to do a course at Piazza D'Oro. Unbeknownst to me, Maico La Pena, a former Australian barista champion, was to host me for the training course. His message, although entry-level, was clear, and it flipped a switch in my heart and soul that made me believe that coffee, not hotels, was the career for me."

When did you first fall in love with coffee?

"When I was working in hotels from 1997-1999, I was sent to complete a training session at Piazza D'Oro. I was blessed to have been taught by Maico La Pena, a coffee trainer and barista champion of Australia. His passion for the craft of coffee was infectious and it got me good. The very next day I went to work and got behind the coffee machine. Twenty years later, I feel like I'm still there, behind the machine, just trying to make things work."

What do you love most about what you do?

"That it doesn't feel like work. It's a pleasure. Seriously, I've never been interested in anything else. I'm a lousy sports person, an even worse student, but working with coffee just makes my brain wonder and spending time with coffee actually energizes me."

What sets your roastery apart from others?

"The playlist for a start. Our music selection is as diverse as the coffees we work with and the personalities that work here. But what we all share is a love for what we do." 

How many people work in your roastery?

"Enough to make it feel like a company, but enough to make it feel like a family. It's a pleasure that we can work such long hours together and still spend enjoyable time outside work hanging out."

What can people expect from your coffee?

"We have always tried to honor the farmers' work and the beauty of mother nature and the terroir differences of various countries. That has always been at the core of what we do: sourcing, roasting, and sharing unique, pure, and distinguished coffee with our community."

Where do your beans come from?

"We have long-standing relationships in Brazil and Ethiopia. Those regions represent the mainstays in our hero blend, White Knight. Our recent trip to Ethiopia, Yigarcheffe, Wediga Village, meeting the people and sharing their story only cemented our love of Ethiopian and African coffees."

What's the toughest part of the roasting process?

"Being present for every second of every roast. Every second matters. Even with technology, such as using Cropster roast profiling software and Agtron roast analysis, it's the person, the individual, that matters. Controlling the roast and making the correct changes when needed is what separates great coffee from others."

What's your No.1 tip for home baristas to make the perfect cup of coffee? 

"Use a scale to weigh in the right dose and to check your yield on the way out. It's a HUGE improvement and a small investment. These days, a $50 scale is a massive upgrade to any home setup."

Upcoming Blends and Future Plans

Are there any blends/products that you'd like featured or plugged in the coming months?

"We've got our Sweet 16 blend coming out soon, which is to celebrate 16 years of White Horse Coffee. It's also a celebration of our love for Ethiopian coffees and will be a blend made up of select washed and natural Ethiopians."

What do you have planned for 2023? Or what are you most excited about?

"Sweet 16 for 2024 is the big event for this year. We're very excited about it. We've definitely had moments of anger, frustration, and confusion in our 16 years of WHC, but it's nice to stop and celebrate some milestones from time to time. We think that sharing flavor, be it coffee, wine, or beer, with friends is like therapy for the mind, body, and soul."

Where can we find out about your sustainability efforts?

"We lean heavily into our green bean partners and their sustainability platforms and ethical sourcing programs. We are particularly proud of the Akawa project and what was achieved in Burundi. Recently, I (Dom) MC'd the MCM Rwanda event at La Marzocco at MICE, and that was super successful in helping women-based land ownership and farming in Rwanda."

Finally, what was the best cup of coffee you've ever had? Can you recall who made it and what made it so special?

"Gosh, there have been so many landmark coffees. Here's some that I can quote:

  1. Paul Bassett's espresso circa 2004.
  2. Aricha and Beloya Ethiopians sourced by Paul Geshos in 2009.
  3. Reben Mardan brewing Panama Esmeralda Geisha on Aeropress at the Mecca Roastery before going to see Cradle of Filth.
  4. Sipping Misty Valley Ethiopian in Flora Street espresso in 2009.
  5. Tasting Rwanda Phillipe for the first time in 2018.
  6. Being reminded of childhood pineapple hard candies after tasting Colombia Castellon Extra Fermentation Geisha in 2018."

Domtron's journey through the world of coffee is a testament to the passion and dedication that fuels White Horse Coffee. 

A huge thank you to Dom and Matt for trusting me with their story and for the little packets of Jibbetz that they gifted to our customers this month!


Images supplied by White Horse Coffee. 

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