FNB News – “We want to make coffee at home as enjoyable as local café”

FNB News – “We want to make coffee at home as enjoyable as local café”

Chef Gary Mehigan and Pete Licata, Veneziano Coffee Roasters, R&D consultant and World Barista Champion, created, ‘The Essential Guide to Good Coffee’. They combined their extensive coffee knowledge to share their top tips for mastering the perfect at-home brew and their views on the new trends in coffee culture, in an email Interview with Kimberley Fernandes. Excerpts:

What was the inspiration for developing the Essential Guide to Coffee? Share its target and reach.
Mehigan: We know that many people are at home at the moment due to Covid-19 and going without their daily coffee is not an option. We’ve also seen the impact Covid-19 has had on retail coffee bean sales, so we know more people are buying beans for home. We want to make coffee at home as an enjoyable experience as the daily coffee from your local café is, and we’re doing this by making good quality, freshly and locally roasted specialty coffee accessible across the country and sharing our knowledge, tips and tricks so people are comfortable making coffee from home.  

How has the competitive landscape of the coffee industry changed during Covid-19?
Licata: As you might expect, most companies have focussed on core business and the necessities during Covid-19. In some ways this has led to more competition to get the business, but since the coffee industry is a community there have been many instances of support between what might normally be competitive companies. Everyone has been innovating their processes, and the more innovative seem to have become more competitive in the market.

Have you altered your growth plans? How will the changes affect prominent stakeholders in the industry?
Licata: As people have shifted to working from home, and still needing their coffee, we have focussed on bringing a top notch coffee experience to your home. It is a great time to innovate and find products that taste great, and collaborating with Gary was a no brainer. We came up with some amazing coffees that represent his tastes and integrity.  

Can you shed light on the impact of lockdown on the coffee industry? Elaborate on its impact on culinary creativity.

Licata: The café experience is largely a socially connected one. As such, the movement of barista prepared coffee has gone down during lockdown. However we have seen more people purchasing coffee to prepare at home, and it has given us the chance to motivate people to learn more about how to brew a great cup, or even experiment with their methods to brew what they like.

Do you foresee the home brewing platform emerging strongly in the new normal?

Licata: Absolutely. Anything that forces us to work from home or spend time away from our normally social café time will put emphasis on home brewing. We have already seen big trends toward home brewing, and if you’re a coffee drinker you probably agree there is no reason to go without a simple pleasure like tasty coffee.

Do you believe that baristas are making the coffee drinking experience monotonous? What would you suggest to add flare to their routine?

Licata: Any time we do the same thing over and over it becomes monotonous, but coffee carries a comfort factor with it too. So we get caught in the logic trap of wanting something new and interesting, but also craving the comfort of what we are used to. I’d say to add flair to the coffee drinking experience they can step out from the purist approach and focus on creating multi sensorial experiences. New and enticing aromas, uncommon textures, or flavours which unexpectedly pair with coffee can add some excitement to what is a monotonous drinking experience.


Describe the three unique and decadent blends that you have created, the dawn, the everyday and the weekend?
Mehigan: First of all, it’s important to understand that coffee is all about mood and pleasure. Taking time to make and appreciate your coffee however you enjoy it is part of the experience and the ceremony. A little time to yourself, to savour the simplicity of the process, the aroma, the texture, the warmth. Having a favourite blend is a little decadent or extravagant which for us, makes coffee very special. Our three blends are designed with these things in mind, for three different times of the day or week. Each coffee has been blended carefully to give a different signature, different flavour notes, fruit, acidity, bitterness to name a few, using the very best beans sourced from some of the very best growers in the world.

Describe your marketing mix given the current market situation?    

Licata: Covid-19 really has instigated this whole project. Gary and Veneziano have had a relationship for around 15 years and a collaboration is something we’ve spoken about many times, but the timing has never been quite right. The current situation has resulted in greater demand for coffee beans for home consumption and coupled with Gary’s profile and the two brand’s mutual mission to teach people their craft (cooking + coffee) from home, it seemed like a perfect time to delve into a collab. Covid-19 has meant we’ve really had to explore digital channels, partnerships and influencers to help spread the word of the new line. Currently the product is available online via www.garymehiganspecialtycoffee.com.au but we’re working hard on how we get the product into local and independent retailers to make it even more accessible to coffee lovers across the country.

Any plans to foray in the Indian market? If yes, how will your products compete in this tea favouring nation?
Mehigan: I would love to make a splash into the Indian speciality coffee market. Drinking and enjoying coffee doesn’t exclude drinking tea…! I enjoy both for different reasons and most often different times of the day, what’s the saying “a little of what you fancy does you good…” There’s time for Chai and time for espresso. Veneziano already has a long standing relationship with one of the best coffee growers in India and have already started to talk about how we might develop a blend or two specifically for our Indian coffee lovers.

What innovative trade offers are you making with regards to your supply chain and retail partners?
Mehigan & Licata: This is all about a shared experience with me and other coffee lovers. As we develop our online experience we want the consumer to have access to not only great coffee and gadgets but a wealth of information. A club of coffee devotees making and enjoying some of the best coffees the world has to offer delivered to your front door.

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