Hunter Brookes is the chief roaster and genius behind Therefore Coffee, our major coffee supplier down at the studio. We had Hunter come through for a brew to talk all things coffee, sustainability and what the future holds for his small business.
Interview with Hunter Brookes, Chief Roaster
Interview by Toby Clausen
Read Time: 5 Minutes
What’s up Hunter, how ya goin’?
Yeah, good. You?
Yeah man, all good. What's going on with Therefore right now?
Just in the thick of redoing our website, new coffee bags and designs, changing the components in our house blend. It’s all happening.
Sounds exciting, tell us more about the blend change..
We are replacing the Brazillian component of the Paradigm Blend with a Nicaraguan, working closely with Caravela who is one of our sourcing partners so that we can work year round with the same farms. Caravela are helping us with our new ‘Brew Good Do Good’ initiative, where Therefore donates $1 per kilogram of coffee purchased back to our coffee farmers. Caravela will help us direct the funds to where it is most needed and there will be full traceability of how we are leaving a positive impact.
That’s really cool, so what other coffees is the Paradigm blend made up of?
This Nicaraguan will make up 50% of the blend, the other 50% is a Colombian that we have also recently adopted. Both of these coffees are able to be sourced year round.
Right on, so the coffees that we are serving up in store will taste as good as they do now all the time?
That’s the idea..
That’s epic, because people are coming in and getting their socks blown off by this coffee.
That’s pretty sick.
So tell me how Therefore started?
Ooh, uh, this is a hard question to answer. It might sound cliche but I was just over drinking and serving average coffee. I had a cafe that didn't work out because of the landlord and I realised that I didn't want to be in that side of the industry, I wanted to get into the roasting and wholesale side so I could have more control over the quality of a cup of coffee. But no one wanted to give me a job.
That sucks about the cafe.
Yeah, I lost like $400 worth of cheese.
Damn. Did no one want to hire you because you had no experience in roasting, or just a lack of opportunity?
Mostly a lack of experience. I was working in Melbourne for a while, I could have made my way up the ladder and maybe have an opportunity to get into roasting. I didn't have the patience though.
So what did you do?
I came home, bought a sample roaster and put it in my garage. I was roasting hundreds of batches trying to figure it out. After I kinda got the feel for it I bought a larger roaster, still didn't really know what I was doing. Luckily I knew a bunch of people in the local coffee industry and they started buying my coffees, I was just roasting and focusing on single origins.
That’s a real underdog story, what gave rise to the Paradigm Blend that we know and love today?
It just came in by demand. Some cafes that were getting a supply of my singles started asking for a house blend to use. We threw something together and kept developing and improving it.
Here’s an out of the blue question.. Do you think Melbourne is the coffee capital of the world?
I haven’t personally been to the other contenders, but I think it's definitely one of the top three or four cities that are innovating and paving the way for people to pursue a professional career in the coffee industry.
That seems like a distant reality for us here, a career in coffee. It’s more like just a job to get you through university, which sucks.
Yeah, something has gotta shift sooner or later. It’s really important to have good people on the ground, baristas that love coffee and want to make excellent coffee. It’s getting rarer and rarer.
Who are you looking up to in the coffee industry right now?
Um, there's a lot. Reuben Hills, Twin Peaks, uh, Wood and Co have great coffee selection and roasting. I really like Seven Seeds in the way that they source their coffees and provide full transparency with the prices they are paying. Sample coffee are doing similar stuff too.
I’m actually drinking a cup of Sample right now, we get their coffees in a lot.
Yeah, it’s really cool when roasters combine excellent coffee selection with having a positive impact on the coffee industry as a whole.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Hmm.. probably I think receiving a new sample lot, roasting and cupping and realising that it’s a sick coffee, buying a bunch to roast and and sharing that coffee with people and they love it too. The whole journey of buying a coffee and getting it tasting good is really fun.
What's happening in the future for Therefore?
Lots of big stuff, looking for a larger factory on the Gold Coast to expand, we’ve outgrown our current space in Tweed. Planning on putting a brew bar in there too. Getting the website updated, there will be a bunch of stuff on there that will reveal who we are and how that translates to our focus on transparency and relationships with coffee growers. Hopefully international travel opens up because we want to start looking at some trips to origin, probably to Nicaragua, get some surfing in too. For now just sourcing and roasting good coffee, and doing what we can to support our farmers at origin.
Why should people buy Therefore coffee?
Ah, that’s a hard one. We just source good coffee, we roast it well and it tastes good. Most guys out there are doing something similar but we just don't cut corners. We take our time with each coffee and make it taste as good as it can.