Coffee is so much more than a daily pick-me-up for Anthony Loberto (aka The Beansmith). For him, coffee has become his livelihood and is an ongoing love affair.
With a new cafe opening up on every corner in Brisbane, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out from the crowd and offer something unique in regards to your daily cup of coffee.
The Beansmith is a specialty coffee roaster based in Kelvin Grove, and he’s basically breaking down beans and creating flavours based on simple science.
The roastery is a converted Queenslander and is warm and welcoming, just like the staff. Even though their focus is sourcing and roasting fine specialty coffees, they also have a small cafe setup that offers freshly-made coffees and a small selection of tasty treats.
You can tell as soon as you walk in that you are in the presence of serious coffee lovers with books, signs and coffee apparatus dotted about the space. Oh, and don’t forget the actual roaster which sits proudly in the back of the room, right next to an enormous red blackboard describing the current batch of beans.
The Beansmith boasts that they buy the world’s finest specialty coffees from select coffee merchants. What’s even better is that these coffees are ethically sourced and sustainably grown.
When you walk in, you can see the hand-built Diedrich coffee roaster which Loberto describes as “precise, a work of art and energy efficient. It was a long term investment in a quality machine and a statement that we value the work of fellow artisans.”
At the coffee degustation/ workshop, we were offered four courses of coffee (all different types and presented in different styles) served with a accompanying dish created by local foodie Tamara Henwood from GG Gourmet.
Loberto is an intriguing character, coming from an engineering background before finally caving into his real calling — coffee! We chatted to him about the journey from stable employment to self-employment and his answers are entertaining and more than a little inspiring.
Why did you decide to go on this coffee adventure?
It’s a very long story, so I’ll do my best to summarise it for you. I grew up in a family where Mum and Dad were self-employed, they had a shop selling and repairing lawnmowers and other outdoor power equipment. As soon as I was old enough, I worked at the shop while not at school or uni and I suppose I gained a deep-seated appreciation for customer service and the satisfaction that comes with self-employment.
So I always knew I needed to work for myself, eventually. In the meantime, I went straight from school into mechanical engineering at QUT, Gardens Point. Following graduation I spent time designing air conditioning, testing equipment for research at QUT and UTS and most recently, seven years at BMT WBM, a specialist engineering consultancy.
Around 2007 I met my now wife and she kindly bought me a barista training session at my favourite cafe because of my pre-existing coffee making interest. After that, it all just blew up and I went from very interested to fanatical. I started home roasting and soon began developing plans for the coffee business, like creating the name and logo.
But because I was busy with my ‘real’ job I let the coffee roasting dreams sit in the background as a regular hobby until about 2012 when I decided it was now or never. So I spent the last three years working increasingly hard to find a way to get the plan to fly. And to skip some boring details, here I am.
Hardest part so far?
I operated a market stall at Kelvin Grove Village Markets last year while still working full time. The 3:30am alarm on Saturday after packing the van until late the night before was gruelling. Then I was on my feet with my colleague until 1pm when we had to pack down, drive home, unload and return the van. The market experience was actually a great first step and gave me the confidence to open the roastery, so I am glad for that.
The people I have met along the way and in particular, the enthusiasm from my customers. Many of them have become great friends and have lavished me with kind words of encouragement, recommendations to other clients and even helped me set up the new roastery. I also have some pre-coffee friends who have been equally kind.
I also was fortunate to win a Bronze Medal at the Australian International Coffee Awards in 2014 for a light roast Kenyan coffee called Gukuyuini Peaberry.
Your favourite coffee or way of drinking it?
That is so unfair! How can I pick one? If it has to be one, then right now it would be Brazil Fazenda Shangri La, a Natural processed Yellow Catuai varietal, served as a short macchiato with our Cooloola Jersey Milk. The small amount of rich Jersey milk brings out the caramel/ toffee notes in the coffee and it is just a magical combination.
What do you wish more people knew about coffee?
I wish more people knew how good specialty coffee could be. Specialty coffee can and does taste as good as your favourite wine or whisky but it’s a lot cheaper and you can have it every day without people looking at you funny. It is a world away from the old world of poorly processed and over roasted coffee. I am still surprised how few people have had that coffee ‘eureka’ moment but on the other hand, I see that as my job to bring them to that point and open new horizons of coffee enjoyment for them.
What are the plans for The Beansmith?
I want The Beansmith to grow in the future, so that we can reach more people and so that we can have a bigger team of motivated and passionate people working together under The Beansmith banner. But I will only allow it to grow as long as we can stick to our ideals of using the finest beans and offering the best possible customer service at every stage.
What do you think of Brisbane’s coffee scene?
It is moving ahead at lightning speed which I constantly find surprising. I was there as a customer in the early days (early to mid 2000s) and even back then, I knew it would boom. But am still remarking to myself that it appears to be gaining speed, not slowing down at all. The diversity is also favourable in Brisbane. The range of cafe and roastery owners in Brisbane strikes me as being broader than say Melbourne, where the scene is bigger and more established, the cafe fitouts more expensive but the general direction is more focused and consistent. This means that for my tastes, Melbourne is less interesting because each new venue is likely to fall into the existing mould rather than offer some individual flair that comes from the owner’s heart.
It appears you are running training programs as well?
The Beansmith aims to set itself apart with both our coffee and customer service at all levels. A key difference is that we will be running what we believe are the most informative, enthusiastic and comprehensive training programs for both individual coffee lovers, baristas and cafe owners at our Kelvin Grove headquarters.
The Beansmith is located at 17 Bishop St, Kelvin Grove. Make sure you click through the gallery above to see all the images!
Do you appreciate a good coffee? If you have a favourite blend, let us know in the comments below.