Coffee: Savour the flavour and save the world

There’s nothing like a good cup of coffee to help set the world to rights …. and if it’s Fair Trade coffee, you’re literally making the world a better place, one cup at a time.

We first started stocking Montville Coffee in our cottages at Montville Grove because it’s locally roasted and an excellent product.

And while we’d always known Montville Coffee was an organic Fair Trade product, we’d never actually thought much about that aspect until Montville Coffee started sharing their coffee story through Coffee Experience sessions on Thursday mornings.

Richard and Karen Barnett established Montville Coffee in 2000, not to support a personal caffeine addiction but because they wanted to make the world a better place by building a Fair Trade business. After researching their options, they decided coffee was the sector where they could have the most impact.

At the time, Montville Coffee was the first Fair Trade coffee roastery in Queensland and only the second in Australia.

Basically the Fair Trade system sets a fair price for coffee, paying more than growers could get from major multinational coffee companies. The higher price means the growers and their families can have a better life, pay their workers a living wage and invest in equipment, better seedlings and other changes to improve the quality of their coffee.

The coffee-growing co-operatives also invest in their communities. For example, the Highlands Organic Agricultural Co-operative in Papua New Guinea has used its Fair Trade premiums to build four primary schools and upgrade local roads.

“It’s a really exciting model because it’s about empowerment, grassroots democracy and whole communities advancing together,” says Karen Barnett.

On Thursday mornings, Montville Coffee has started hosting a Coffee Experience to offer coffee-tasting workshops and share the stories of the growers and co-operatives who supply their coffee.

The coffee-tasting process – known as cupping – follows a very precise order which is used by coffee buyers and judges all over the world to assess coffee quality. The shape of the bowls, the temperature of the water, the ratio of coffee to water and even the brewing times are all exactly the same.

Like wine-tasting, you can spit it out but who does that? You’ll be able to drive home safely but you certainly won’t be having an afternoon nap that day!

First you inhale the aromas of freshly roasted and ground beans, noting the characteristics of various single-origin coffees and blends, along with different aromas from passionfruit to pipe tobacco.

“Why are they so different,” asked one of the participants in our group. Because coffee is a plant and it produces different flavours depending on the type of coffee plant used, the soil, the altitude and the weather conditions during the growing season.

After the sniffing comes slurping. First we learn the technique which requires a sharp intake of breath with a sip of black coffee to create a caffeinated mist inside the mouth.

“Don’t laugh just before you slurp or it ends in disaster,” warns Kevin Fraikin, who joined Richard and Karen as a partner in Montville Coffee a few years ago. Interestingly, Kevin wasn’t even a coffee drinker before then.

After the tasting sessions and discussions, you can enjoy a perfectly-brewed cup of coffee and a light brunch. The menu changes with the seasons but we had a choice of baked Woombye brie with fresh figs and roasted cherry tomatoes or French toast with caramelised bananas.

And best of all, you can buy freshly roasted beans or ground coffee to take home, including a variety of blends and single origin beans.

The Coffee Experience is offered in Montville on Thursday mornings, starting at 9.30 am.

Bookings are essential so check the Montville Coffee website for details or phone (07) 5478 5585.

There’s no charge if you just want to attend the coffee-tasting component but there’s a charge for the brunch.

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