May 2018 - What happens when the shopping centres close ? New 500g bags almost here. Roasters rant

Date Posted:9 May 2018 


“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” — Andy Warhol

May 2018

Our 500g bags are changing - we redesigned the format more than 3 months ago and the new bags are still not here. As we run out of our trusty radioactive green bags, you will see some generic white bags used as the interim solution - we started using white bags for Decaf months ago to slow down the consumption rate as we sell truck loads of decaf each week.

This month's opinion piece is another article about the looming challenges for Shopping Centre retailers and what it may mean to the rest of us when the landscape changes.

Roaster's Rant is there a disconnect between the sausage and the sizzle when it comes to green bean marketing and coffee quality.



the worm has turned - bricks & mortar retail is shrinking

So last year I wrote a lot (probably too much) on the rapidly shifting landscape of Australian retail - a fiery cocktail of intense competition, the arrival of Amazon, 3rd world logistics, fickle consumer sentiment and erosion in consumer loyalty.

No, I'm not Nostradamus, just an average guy with a genuine curiosity about cause and effect. 

This month's opinion piece is a collective from a few months of observations and it's certainly been a period of interesting events - Shopping Centre Landlords doing mega global deals, bloodbaths at Myer and the scathing Financial Services inquiry.

In mid-Feb, the new CEO of Vicinity - Australia's largest shopping centre landlord - pointed to a key strategic change of direction for developing the opportunities in land around some of Vicinity's Shopping Centres. Seems they don't want to expand the footprint of leasable retail space and customer parking, they just want apartments.

This is without doubt the first major external signal of the so-called high-tide we have known as traditional bricks and mortar retailing. It's also a pretty dumb and lazy play - falling back to a reliance upon the mythical wealth generation of real estate.

What happens when all the small and medium shopping centres have been replaced by apartments ?

To read the full article, click here


Roaster's Rant

The disconnect between the sausage and the sizzle

Maybe 35 years of being obsessed with the humble coffee bean is too long and there's a tendency to end up being just a tad jaded or skeptical. Perhaps by now I should just do the basics to keep everything ticking over - you know, wise old man style.

Nope, I'm running harder and faster these days than ever before, yet I've spent a fortune on new infrastructure to make it easier and like life, it's not getting easier or simpler.

Working with coffee is a never ending black hole of data and information (I prefer to call it data as most of it's really little more than nonsense). These days it's possible to effectively spend all day looking at images, reading and absorbing coffee related articles, blogs and posts from around the world and end up achieving absolutely nothing.

Great if you work for someone else, bad if it's your business and $$ on the line.

There is so much going on everywhere 24x7 in the coffee universe - whether it's brewing gear, new varietals of coffee, innovative processing methods or someone's banging on about some new roasting profile or why platform X gives the most insane results. It never ends, but it does tire, especially the blatant hyped up rubbish.

You know what, most of this stuff is actually meaningless in the grand scheme of the coffee lifecycle. Sure, there are the rare gems that pop up every few weeks or months, but let me tell you there are mountains and mountains of crap that cover these gems.

Mostly, stuff written about coffee these days is about agendas relating to marketing - trying to sell, trying to convince/disrupt or trying to gain fame/notoriety and sometimes all of them at the same time in a confusing mash up.

So why is there so much junk written about coffee -

  • because it's seemingly big business these days and for a lot of people it's addictive when you dive in,
  • there are a mind-boggling number of variables and hence plenty of wiggle room to be rubbery with the facts,
  • it's a hobby or it's an obsession.
  • it's a journey - there is always something to learn with coffee and the mystic draws you closer and grabs a tight hold.

I spend most of my limited downtime absorbing info about coffee instead of switching off like I probably should. At times, I often think back to the early 1990's, when a rather hilarious commercial played on TV about the boring life of an undertaker - mahogany or pine ?.......yep, that's my life with coffee and to be honest I wouldn't change it for anything else, well at least, not at this moment.

Being in the epicenter of the coffee world gives us an interesting view of what's going on. We see most of the coffee brokers continuing their struggle over recent years to climb that mythical mountain of quality excellence - you know, making claims they have the best coffees, their beans are magical and deserving of your undivided attention.

The noise from these chest beating Luddites is at times deafening (and boring) when what the industry really needs is some true leaps in innovation for critical quality elements relating to bulk packaging (customized blending, dust and waste reduction), transport and intelligent storage. There are just 1 or 2 companies thinking about these features, whilst the rest have their head buried in the farmer's soil.

Thinking about how to make the life of a customer (in this case the coffee roaster) a bit easier would make them far more indispensable and critical in the supply chain. Surely, that's going to generate more returns than using scatter guns to hype the latest crop from origin.

Some have their minds around it, but most are too focused on selling the sizzle instead of the sausage.

We see these same, tired routines of cupping tables, samples, slurping spoons and promises of exciting > 85 point coffees.

What's worse is you see the identical, boring, mini-me routines repeated in social media selfies by pretentious coffee companies desperately trying to gain is our cupping to assure you of quality .....imaged of tables with lines of cups and humans bent over like animals at the feed trough.

All a bit ho-hum I'm afraid and yet nothing on the horizon to help roasters achieve higher levels of product consistency throughout the year.

What's the point of promoting those rock-star 87 point coffees when stacked them to the ceiling in hot warehouses for 9 then it's just an expensive 80+ point mediocre, mycotoxic mess.

For more than 11 years we have invested in climate control in our facility and we partner with suppliers that share similar beliefs in quality - it's not the sizzle, just a delicious sausage.