Travel anywhere is the world and we bet you won’t find coffee like you can in Australia.
Alongside the Australian cafe culture, Australian coffee has become something worth travelling for. And it’s easy to ‘taste’ why when you’ve got talented Australian coffee roasters working hard to perfect the smooth roasts that have coffee drinkers from all corners of the world hooked.
You might already know that Ballarat is blessed with some seriously talented baristas and the deliciously milky goodness that is Inglenook Dairy, but team that with the light caramel flavours of local coffee beans and you know you’re in for a deliciously good cup of coffee.
Ballarat is home to a small handful of coffee roasters which you’ll find being served at local cafes across the region, including Karon Farm Coffee, Hellbilly Roasting, Egna Coffee Roasters and Charisma Coffee.
We caught up with Luke McPherson of Karon Farm Coffee to talk about the secret of creating the perfect bean.
Where did your coffee roasting journey begin?
I started as a home roaster (think home brewer for beer, but the coffee equivalent), with a repurposed bread maker and a heat gun. I fell in love with the process and started roasting for friends and family.
Fast forward about 12 years to 2016 and a local cafe ran out of coffee, so I shot home and grabbed them a bag of coffee I had roasted on my new 1kg mini commercial roaster I had splurged on at the time – the journey to a business began then. They enjoyed it and I decided it was time to get serious! We have grown from there to a 7kg commercial roaster in 2018 and now a 22kg roaster in 2020.
Talk to us about the coffee roasting process?
Raw coffee is weighed out, then loaded into a coffee roaster. It’s spun around in a drum, which has a lot of heat applied to it, as well as a careful amount of airflow so that it roasts but doesn’t burn – This takes anywhere from about 10-15 minutes. Once it reaches its end temperature, it is dropped out into a cooling tray which has paddles to spin it and keep it moving while a fan sucks cool air through it to stop the roasting process as soon as possible.
That’s a very basic description of a very complicated process. There is a lot of science involved, you can easily change the flavour of coffee by changing the roast length, depth and temperature.
Why did you decide to set up shop in the Ballarat region? (We see the region has inspired a number of names for your blends)
I had massive fond memories of escaping to Ballarat every holiday while growing up (we lived on the other side of Melbourne back then).
My wife and I were living in Sydney and had always discussed moving to “the country” and buying a hobby farm when we retired. About seven years ago now, my wife was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer at 36-years-old – she fought her backside off and got through it, but we it made us both realise that life was short and we shouldn’t wait for our dream, hence the move to our hobby farm and change of lifestyle.
What’s the secret to good coffee?
Drink it whilst its fresh (coffee oxidises when exposed to light, heat and air – just like red wine) preferably in good company if you can.
Grind it just before brewing. And always, always start with good quality coffee as its difficult to make a great brew with poor quality coffee.
Where can we find your coffee being served in Ballarat?
The Highlander Bar & Bistro, Black Hill Hotel, The Wallace Hotel, and The Farmers Arms Hotel at Creswick, as well as from the Little Ezra & Olive coffee van which you’ll find in Creswick everyday but Sunday.
You can also pick up a bag of beans at Wilsons Fruit and Veg, The Farmgate Shop, Jacks Cellabrations and Friendly Grocer and every IGA store in Ballarat.
What do you love most about the Ballarat region?
The friendly people, beautiful countryside, the ever-growing foodie scene and the amazing weather (maybe not the heart of winter!)
What’s Ballarat’s best kept secret?
It’s so hard to pick a best kept secret. I think it’s the access, to not only central Ballarat, but to the wineries and food venues surrounding it. Tuki Trout farm is one of our favourite venues for an amazing lunch just outside of Ballarat whilst enjoying the country air.
What are the top three recommendations of things to do in Ballarat?
Do a walking tour of the CBD, start early for breakfast at one of the amazing cafes and finish after lunch with a wine and nibbles at Mitchel Harris or a beer and nibbles at Hop Temple or Aunty Jacks.
HOP TIP: Just when you through espresso martinis couldn’t get any better, along comes Cambrian Hill espresso martini in a bottle.
This modern take on the classic cocktail is a collaboration with Kilderkin Distillery and features the award-winning Karon Farm Coffee blend.
You can purchase the 500ml bottle at the Kilderkin Distillery website.