the fish river roasters story - so far
The fish river roasters story really started in London in 1995. Which is odd because coffee is pretty poor in London. I was working at a very posh hotel. There was an older Italian guy on staff there who naturally enough was not too impressed with the standard of coffee he was finding. When we would knock off work he would take me to Bar Italia in Soho for a "real coffee".
Up until then I was a pretty keen coffee drinker, but not obsessive. Having grown up in Australia in the 70's espresso wasn't new to me. I can still remember looking at the odd spelling of "cappuccino" on the sign in my local milk bar. They used to make great milk shakes and I remember thinking that for around the same price as a giant milk shake they were selling what seemed like tiny thimbles of coffee.
Anyway, so there I was in Bar Italia drinking these same "tiny thimbles" of coffee and it all started to click. Those Italians in the milk bar back home really knew what they were doing.
When I got back to Australia in 1997 I purchased a cafe. I gradually improved my own espresso skills. There were few or no courses you could take then, and frankly I look back on what I was doing and my technique at the time and cringe a bit. There was the milk jug "bounce" on the steam arm and the cappuccino that looked like the North Face of Everest. Oooouch!
But as a I read a bit more, watched a bit more and started pestering my coffee supplier for training ("Training?") things started to improve. In 1999 After a couple of years I became unhappy with the quality of the coffee I was being supplied with, and yes they were pretty well known. I ended up buying my first roaster. It was small, I was forever roasting coffee to try to keep up with the cafe and home users, but at last I had control over quality --- and no one to blame but myself.
The cafe kept getting busier, in the end I just had to get a bigger roaster. I had grand plans of installing it in my cafe but it was just too busy and the roaster was just too big. I had about a weeks worth of sleepless nights thinking things over and decided to sell the cafe and concentrate on coffee roasting.
Since then we have expanded to supply over forty cafe's and restaurants and win several awards. Our range of coffees has expanded and we seem to be in a state of constant evolution. I have not for one moment regretted focussing on coffee roasting.