Coffee Operations Director by day, musician and basketballer by night!
A self-taught coffee roaster, Jake’s attention to detail and desire to create amazing coffee has seen him take out both bronze and silver medals in the Australia and New Zealand Golden Bean Coffee Roasting Competition. But where did his journey with coffee begin?
In 2014, Jake’s dad Andrew triggered his curiosity when he bought a second hand coffee roaster from NSW. Interested in a new challenge, Jake began roasting Timorese beans after work from a warehouse in Clayton three nights a week. In between roasting experiments and playing guitar, he (like many millennials!) turned to Youtube to properly learn the ropes, and after much trial and error was confident he had mastered the basics.
Some six months on, after a particularly trying day in his IT job where he’d been tasked with fixing a computer mouse that turned out to be backwards rather than broken, Jake decided to leave his job to pursue a full time career in roasting. And he’s never looked back.
Since joining the business, Jake has taken numerous trips to Timor-Leste to spend time with people and communities on the ground. He splits his time between Dili, undertaking training sessions to grow the capital’s Corner Store Network; Ermera, taking day trips out to coffee farms to collaborate with farmers and check in on the coffee cherries; and Baguia, where the WithOneSeed reforestation program plants a tree for every kilo roasted in Melbourne.
Over time, he’s observed the tightening up of coffee farming practices including the use of raised drying beds to prevent contamination of beans, and the introduction of grain pro bags which lock moisture into the beans giving them a longer shelf life. He’s also watched the progression of the Corner Store Network Dili which has gone from a literal patch of dirt to a fully equipped shipping container creating and selling many interesting products.
If Jake can take anything from his visits to Timor-Leste it’s to slow down, be grateful, and to not take anything for granted. He says locals run on “Timor time”, which is a pace that Jake (and anyone who knows him!) believes he is very well suited to.
Aside from working with his family every day, the best part of Jake’s job is the people he gets to meet and the relationships he forms with them. Sit in the cafe for an hour and you’ll be impressed with the number of names, coffee orders and details he can remember about nearly every customer that walks through the door. Of course, his love for his craft gets a mention too, in particular the constant challenge to continue to roast a great coffee amongst changing variables like weather, humidity, the conditions in which the beans were grown and the amount of time they’ve been stored for.
As for his favourite cuppa, it depends on the day (or really the location, weather or a recent customer preference). His old faithful is a 1+1 (a shot of espresso and a shot of boiling water), at home it’s an AeroPress, in summer it’s a cold brew and any other day it could be an alternative milk latte so he can practise working with different milks.
Looking forward, Jake is itching to get back to Timor-Leste and continue his work with both coffee farmers and the Corner Store Network Dili staff who roast and sell the same Timorese coffee on the local market. During lockdown, he’s spent time reading and researching various coffee techniques, has uncovered several recommendations for farmers and is excited about the prospect of helping them improve the quality of what is already a specialty-grade bean. Closer to home, Jake is looking to combine his passion for music with his involvement in the local community to put on regular music and trivia nights at the roastery, a plan that has so far been foiled by covid.
No matter what the future holds, one thing is for certain: whenever Jake is around you know you’re in for an exceptional cup of coffee, an interesting conversation and an epic playlist. You can find him behind the counter weekdays, in the van at Farmer’s Markets on Saturdays or otherwise (outside of lockdown) down at the basketball courts!