Kirby Burton, Stoka Coffee + Salute Espresso

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I’m really excited to introduce Kirby Burton, of STOKA Coffee and Salute Espresso. Kirby is a FORCE! Most of us know her for her lovely lattes and punchy piccolos, but today I’m digging a little deeper!

First up, I want people to get some perspective of the last few years for you! How old are you, how old are your babies, and how old is your business? It’s a pretty amazing feat.

Wow, the last few years have been the wildest of my life! I am 31, and I have four year and 18 month old girls. I have been wholesaling coffee in my roastery since 2012. Salute town was opened when my eldest child was six months, and Salute Jetty when my youngest was two weeks old! I seem to open businesses when I have babies, so safe to say I won’t be having any more babies!

We all know you can sling an epic coffee, but behind all that, you roast beans, stock  cafés and sell to the public. So, why coffee? And how long have you been in the industry pre-STOKA?

Ah, thanks Soph! I was sneaking coffees when I was seven years old, when my parents would turn a cheek; I love it predominantly because of the taste, and secondly because of what it symbolises. It brings people a slice of happiness, and brings people together! It’s also creative and multifaceted. I have been in hospo for 20 years, and I began roasting in Melbourne in nine years ago!

What are the most important components of a good roast? How easily can it all go wrong? The science behind it is fascinating!

SO many things can affect the end result! But the most important components are definitely beans, equipment that is precise and able to ramp up the heat when you need, or to make minor temperature changes without completely losing momentum, and understanding these factors. The whole roasting process is such a cool science, with the slightest of changes completely changing the flavour at the end. It could be 10 seconds too long or too little, and you will end up with something that isn’t what you know that coffee is capable of. It’s a little bit of a dance with the flame to really bring out the best in each origin.

Now, if my digging serves correctly, you are an Australian title holder for latte art and coffee making, then competed around the world. I had no idea this world ran so deep; I’m so curious! What was that time of your life like?

Baristas are some of the most unique people; the specialty coffee world is incredible. My experience from that time was so much fun, but also concreted that I really wanted to be in this industry. I competed in Cologne in Germany in 2009 and then in Maastricht in Holland in 2011 against the best in the world. That year I went on to live in London and work for Gwilym Davis, a World Barista Champion. When I was working in London, the coffee industry was going through some major changes in understanding and really delving into the science behind water quality and how that affects the flavours you extract from coffee, using refractometers and weighing coffee to measure results precisely.

Lastly, where can people (who would be crazy to not know already) buy, try and enjoy your coffee?

Our roastery, STOKA, is hidden down Park Avenue Lane; it houses our flagship café, Salute espresso out the front, which has a fairly large retail shelf stocked with beans! We also have Salute Jetty right on the foreshores on Marina Drive! 

Find us @stokacoffee or www.stokacoffee.com.au

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