Ben Tugwell, founder and proprietor of Fleurieu Roast coffee at Aldinga, says his life-long passion for freshly roasted coffee began one night at Glenelg many years ago.
“It was a family celebration at the Stamford Grand,” says Ben, “and although I didn’t know it at the time, one drink was going to have a significant effect on my future.
“Coffee was served with dessert, and I must have been distracted because I took a mouthful without the customary heaped spoonful of sugar. I paused, and for a moment, I wasn’t even sure I was drinking coffee – so smooth, and an underlying creamy chocolate and caramel flavour, well balanced and just perfect!
“And that appreciation of good coffee has stuck with me ever since.”
Ben started roasting small quantities of coffee at home, and would often share it with his friends, who agreed that it tasted much better than store-bought coffee.
Feeling encouraged, he started roasting as a sideline and in 2013, while working at a coffee stall at the Adelaide Markets, he convinced his boss that his hand-roasted coffee was far better than the mainstream coffees, and he became Ben’s first customer.
The major, corporate coffee roasters, says Ben, produce coffee in such bulk that whole process has to be automated. Ben, on the other hand, oversees the whole roasting process from beginning to end, to the extent of lugging 60 or 70 kilo bags of coffee beans into the roastery by hand.
Ben believes that coffee has some similar qualities to wine and other regional produce.
“You can buy a well-known brand knowing they have worked hard to develop an inoffensive and consistent taste that will be the same, year after year,” he says. “Or you can be more adventurous, and experience the variety that different crops produce from season to season.
“That’s what Fleurieu Coffee has to offer. But here’s a tip, don’t try cellaring roasted coffee. It’s really only at its best for a month or two.”
Ben currently imports coffee beans from Costa Rica, Burundi, Guatemala, Brazil, Kenya and elsewhere, and has even developed a direct relationship with overseas growers.
“People are a bit more adventurous now, and with so many good cafes and restaurants they know what proper coffee tastes like,” Ben says. “This is where boutique roasting steps in.
“It’s still about taking coffee to the next level and sharing the experience with as many people as I can. It’s also been about discovering a trove of flavours by roasting different batches and still pursuing that elusive perfect coffee.”
Ben loves helping people enjoy fresh-roasted Fleurieu Roast coffee either at home or served with local produce in nearby restaurants and cafes. You can order online through the webpage and the roastery is open to the public on Saturdays. For wholesale clients by appointment during the week.
Fleurieu Roast is also home to a bespoke tea outlet, Wyverstone Tea, offering a fascinating range of hand-blended organic herbs, teas and tisanes.
More info at www.fleurieuroast.com.au