About Underground Coffee Roasters
Like all the best ideas throughout history,
Underground Coffee Roasters came about from watching late night TV and drinking.
In this case the year was 2007, the drink was an espresso and the TV program was Paul Bassett's 13-part show, Living Coffee. It turned Lapstone Hotel licensee Tim Briggs into a man with a mission: to offer his customers the best pub coffee in Australia.
OK, so it was a bit out of left field: Tim came from a strong wine background and had run hotels for many years, but he'd got the coffee bug bad. Paul Bassett was World Barista Champion at the time. Tim sent him an email outlining his vision – and Paul duly ignored it.
Yes, it took a little while for Tim to convince Paul that he was serious about receiving coffee training, but then the pair embarked on a decade-long journey into the world of coffee and they haven't looked back.
Happy punters at the hotel have been enjoying Paul's coffee for many years, but now Tim has taken his coffee pilgrimage to the next level.
Tim recently bought a micro roasting business, complete with and all the software-based roasting profiles that had been developed over many years.
Tim thought the product was fantastic, but knew the blend could be improved with a little tweaking. Enter Josh Benbrook, former head roaster from Morgan's Coffee, who came on board and has been instrumental in instigating subtle changes in both blending and sourcing specialty beans through his industry contacts. The coffee world is rapidly changing and it is important to be on the cutting edge of technology and techniques. Underground coffee has made sure they are up to date with these innovations by working with industry leaders such as Anne Cooper at Equilibrium Master Roasters and Mark Beattie at Coffee Roasters Australia.
Underground Coffee Roasters (UCR) has been sourcing their beans through suppliers who have a direct relationship with growers (Direct Trade). It's a system that provides farmers with the best outcome and UCR with the best possible product.
Hang on; things are about to get a bit technical...
Each varietal of bean is roasted to its full potential as UCR applies individual profiles depending on size, density, moisture content and weight. These individual beans are painstakingly blended to create beautiful and complex roasts. Each roast style whether for espresso of filter coffee must fall into our strict parameters of moisture loss , roast development percentages, temperature and colour both external and internal.
"We let each roast 'sing' to us and it tells us the timing and subtle adjustments that we need to make," says Josh.
Of course, freshness is the key to great flavour. Coffee beans will often only have a 'best before date'; UCR roasts to order to ensure ultimate freshness and stamps a 'roast date' instead.
Specialty beans bring the blends to life and you won't find UCR doing the old industry trick of substituting cheap beans into a blend. No chance.
"I've got a background in the wine industry and have seen iconic wine brands fall apart because they tried to capitalise on the strength of their brand name but offer inferior product," Tim says.
"This kind of behaviour is a short-sighted grab for cash and not part of our plan. We started this business not to be an overnight success, but to offer other coffee lovers a great product at a competitive price.
"The coffee industry is very exciting, as it hasn't been completely taken over by multinationals and consumers have such an emotional connection with their drink. In Australia the competition is extreme and it's led to our nation having arguably the best final product in the world."
Josh spent five years as Head Roaster at Morgan's Coffee and has a passion for everything coffee, from the latest ways of brewing and cutting-edge roasting techniques to sourcing the best green beans and even drinking the stuff. Josh has an amazing palate and can draw a crowd at the cupping table with his ability to pick up subtle taste and aroma characteristics. Josh is an all-rounder who can help in the field as a support to our wholesale customers with technical advice and help in extracting the perfect shot.
Philip is the master of extraction and is our man on the ground helping train our café staff to get the best our of their coffee. He is our man on front line and is a great asset to us and our partners.
Shelley keeps the business side of thing running smoothly while the coffee nuts tinker in the testing room like mad scientists. Even without much formal coffee experience, Shelley has a great nose and palate and is often called in on a cupping session to help identify an aroma.