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Tiffany Loh
Smarter Writer

Tiffany Loh is the Smarter Business™ & News and Digital Editor, with varied writing experience always looking for a unique story

Tiffany Loh
Smarter Writer

Tiffany Loh is the Smarter Business™ & News and Digital Editor, with varied writing experience always looking for a unique story

You might not have been to the Coffee Roaster's flagship premise in Alexandria, but you've almost certainly tasted one of their award-winning brews.

The Coffee Roaster, coffee roasting and wholesale supplier business, started out in a terrace house in the Sydney suburb of Glebe in 1992. 

Founded by Dan and Joanne Fitzsimmons, The Coffee Roaster has relocated its Sydney HQ three times and also opened premises in Brisbane over the years to keep up with growth. Since 2000, it's found a home on the bustling Botany Road in Alexandria, where its coffee roasting facility and espresso bar sits comfortably under the one roof.

We swing by to get our morning caffeine fix and to quiz Dan about: the wholesale process, how to machine automation can increase productivity, and what makes up the perfect blend.

people at coffee shop

"Our coffee quest began out of boredom"

"That quest for coffee knowledge eventually led us to Australia. We were frustrated early on with the inability to find good quality coffee consistently, so we decided to roast it on our own." 

"We had just come back from a year travelling around the world backpacking researching the coffee industry. We bought a small 4kg air roaster and fitted out a small terrace house and started the business and as we grew we moved a couple of times and finally wound up here in 2000.”

The reason we started the business is because we were tired of our current vocations. I was in the computer industry and my wife was Operations Manager for a stock brokerage firm and we decided we wanted to do something different at that point in time.

- Dan and Joanne Fitzsimmons, The Coffee Roaster

The internet, coffee, and a lucky number plate

Working in the computer industry, Dan knew the Internet was going to change the world

“I was well aware of the Internet and I speculated on the advantage of having a good URL. So I set about registering the ‘coffee.com.au’ URL name for that reason. I think it was the first generic domain name registered in Australia. If you ever seen the car number plate driving around, say hi to JoAnne."

“At about the same time, I was registering a company vehicle and my wife asked me to check and see if ‘coffee’ was available as a number plate. My wife still has it to this day.  I haven’t had any offers on buying the number plate and have no interest in selling it but it’s probably worth something.”

There are two main differences between Sydney and Brisbane coffee markets

“Because we have been operating in Sydney so much longer we have a smaller percentage of organic coffee and sustainable coffee that we sell in Sydney but because the Brisbane operation has emerged in the last few years when there has been more focus on sustainable coffee and organic coffee. They probably have 50 per cent of their customer base using that coffee. It’s interesting to see how the two businesses have evolved.”

"To boost productivity levels we built our own automated roasters. We bought our first couple of roasting machines from the gentleman who invented the process in the early 70s and we found that they produced an excellent product but it was frustrating because it required too much involvement on the part of the operator and coming from the computer industry.”

“I realised that this process was the perfect candidate for being automated, so we set about engineering a system that used this technique but under control of computers. The result was the ‘Chinook Air-Roasting System’.”

Engineer a unique design and interest will call

“Our machine is different from the bulk of the rest of the coffee roasters in that it levitates the beans on a cushion of hot air. We can actually measure the temperature of the bean in real time during the roasting process because we are roasting it to a particular temperature we can ensure that the flavour consistency is going to be bullet proof every time. 99 per cent of coffee roasters out there use a drum coffee roaster, a rotating drum within which the coffee is contained, and underneath that rotating drum is a large gas flame.”

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