Story & photo Melissa Butters
Andy and Michelle have been serving up great coffee at farmers markets for 18 years. Andy, an exploration geologist, and Michelle, whose background is in horticulture, studied together on a coffee-growing course. They began planting in 1998 and now have 7000 trees at their plantation in Nashua, covering seven acres and producing one to two tonnes of green beans per year. They create the perfect brew that we know and love – Bangalow Coffee.
The NSW coast is one of a few regions in Australia that are suitable for coffee growing, thanks to its mild climate and rainfall. The volcanic soil of the region is perfect for coffee growing; fairly fertile, well drained, and aerated.
Competing with lower-priced coffee from developing countries is not easy. However, Bangalow’s beans are lower in caffeine and more desirable owing to the low-stress environment. ‘Coffee appealed as it was a burgeoning crop for the area and had no pests or diseases that needed to be managed and therefore required no spraying of pesticides or fungicides,’ say the couple.
Michelle and Andy choose to hand pick their beans. Hand picking allows for better quality control and ensures that the beans are collected at premium ripeness. The cost of harvesting is higher than machine picked, which becomes a challenge, but they are happy with the end result.
They love the local area and are keen to give back. ‘It has been a great place to settle and we have a great connection with the local community. We are planting local rainforest trees, as often as we can, to increase the biodiversity of local species of plants and animals.’
Visit the Mullum and New Brighton markets every week to grab a fresh pourthat will get you through your morning, or a bag of locally grown and roasted beans to take home.
The New Brighton Farmers Market is on every Tuesday, from 8am to 11am, and the Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday 7am to 11am.
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