Amelia Franklin is a specialty Fair Trade coffee roaster based in Bellingen. She sources her beans from some of the richest soils in the world and has won some prestigious awards for her own unique blends. Amelia shares her love of coffee with us.
How did you first start working with coffee?
That’s a really difficult question, actually. I came into coffee through a different avenue to most people, and that was by importing via Fair Trade and working with organics.
I used to import coffee about 7 years ago, and I would source products directly from producers and bring them back to Australia from the importers’ end.
I’d always worked in hospitality and after I had my child, I needed to find something that I could do while I looked after him – that meant I didn’t have to go overseas. I thought, “I love wholesale, I love importing and I’ll only work with ethical producers”, so they all kind of married together and coffee came up trumps.
> How does Fair Trade work?
Basically, Fair Trade is a cooperative system that is set up in third world countries that enforces and governs the cost of produce. They set a minimum price for their products, so that you can’t barter them down below that price. Everyone who is a member of the cooperative receives the set minimum price and the excess goes into the community, schools and micro finance.
Fair Trade ensures that children are not working in the coffee industry and are instead staying in school. You pay that extra premium for Fair Trade products, but it’s dedicated to going back in to keeping the kids in school, getting more community enterprise and injecting money into the local economy.
There is a massive health care clinic in East Timor which is set up on the Fair Trade premium coffee. They wouldn’t have the health care clinic if there was no coffee, because it’s all funded by the money that comes in from the coffee sales.
> You run your own roastery and coffee shop in Bellingen. Describe your typical day.
Our business is predominantly wholesale, but we also do online sales and retail from our shop in Bellingen. We also run regular barista training and coffee appreciation courses at the roastery.
Generally every day varies, because there are so many different things we do here. We do everything from starting up the coffee roaster, roasting the beans, doing barista work, packaging and dispatching and of course, the training courses. Everything is done on site, here in Bellingen.
> Where do you source your beans?
The main beans that I use are sourced from Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Sumatra, East Timor and Nicaragua.
The Papua New Guinean Purosa is shade grown at a high altitude in rich volcanic soil. If you were to grow the same plant in Coffs Harbour, it wouldn’t cut the same, because the climate, altitude and soil are so different.
The taste of the beans varies depending on the region it’s grown in, because it’s affected by these climatic conditions. A lot of Australian coffee has got a really earthy taste, which personally I love. It’s really nice as a single origin in a medium roast.
The Sumatran Gayo is from the Gayo Plateau, and it has a real full body flavour. It’s also got citrusy tones to it, and you can have that as a single origin; it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a blend. A blend basically means that there’s more than 2 beans together, and a single origin is just the single bean from the region where the whole crop has come from.
> You have your own unique blends?
I’ve got 2 blends at the moment that have been really popular. The Little Black Bello blend won silver this year at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. That was in the Espresso Class against around 200-300 other coffee roasters in Australia.
We normally have it on as our house blend. It’s a lot milder, with a full body and chocolate / caramel tones to it. It has sweetness to it … it’s kind of the coffee that you don’t really need to put sugar with. It doesn’t have that bitterness and sharp bite to it, but it’s still really strong.
The Little Black Bello is a Mexican, Papua New Guinean, Nicaraguan and Sumatran blend, so you’ve got a cross of the world there.
The other blend that I have is the Soul Blend, which is mainly a Mexican and Sumatran blend with a bit of Nicuraguan in it. That’s really popular with people who like a stronger, punchier coffee. It’s still got that round, full bodied taste and citrus tones to it.
> What makes a good coffee?
The secret to a good coffee is to not over roast and burn your beans, so that you don’t start with an over-roasted bean that all the oils are going out of. I don’t want to see oils in hoppers, because that’s what you want in your coffee.
As long as it’s a dark roast and not over-roasted, most coffees (as long as the roaster has done a nice blend) will taste quite nice. The roaster also needs to make sure all the different characteristics of a bean have been combined correctly. For example, you wouldn’t put something that has vanilla tones with something that’s got citrus tones.
I love chocolatey tones in my coffee, which probably comes from being a chocoholic, and I like sweetness without having to put sugar in it.
> For more info about your roastery …
You can visit my website at www.ameliafranklin.com.au or come to the roastery at 2/87 Hyde St, Bellingen.
> Thank you Amelia.