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Pat Connolly, Ben Toovey and Josh Jackson

We love an exceptional brew – of the coffee variety that is – and the Gold Coast has really picked up its game over the last few years when it comes to building an enviable coffee culture.

Due, in no small part, to these three gentlemen; Pat, Ben and Josh, Locale Coffee Roasters Coffee Development Team and the epitome of coffee connoisseurs.

The trio were on the Gold Coast recently for the opening of Pearl & Ash, a newbie brewing with Locale Espresso so we nabbed them for a chat on being the best in the biz and what it is they love most about the little brown beans.

What do you love most about coffee?
Pat:
I love the complexity of coffee, the fact it’s ever-changing and always teaching you something new. Ben: The diversity, both of the flavours and the people working in the industry, from the farmers to the baristas.
Josh: I love that coffee can bring people together, from all walks of life. It’s a continuous cycle of education…how far you go down the rabbit hole is up to you.

How have you seen the coffee culture change over the years?
Pat:
Increased competition has been the biggest change I’ve noticed over the past 10-15 years. This has brought with it a push towards transparency, from farmers to importers to roasters to baristas; everyone now has much more clear and precise knowledge of every part of the supply chain. Customers are more educated also. Everyone is far more comfortable sharing their knowledge and experience than ever before. Technology and social media have had a big impact on the industry, both good and bad. The quality of coffee and food is at a higher standard than ever before.
Ben:
Consumers are becoming more educated about quality, and more open minded to try new origins of coffee and different brew methods.
Josh: I don’t think people have ever been as engaged as they are now, which has been great for our industry. They’re interested in where their coffee is sourced, how it’s produced, its environmental impact and so on…it’s not limited to the coffee industry either. The ease of obtaining information and connectivity to others worldwide has been a key driver of this.

Tell us your personal favourite brews…
Pat:
Currently I’m excited about what’s coming out of Yemen. Very exciting coffee at the moment.
Ben: If I had to choose one coffee to drink every day it would be a filter brew of a light roasted, washed Kenyan.
Josh: Always love a good pourover but I’m digging our current Colombian microlot from Finca El Mirador as an espresso.

Josh, tell us how your career in coffee came about?
I started out in hospitality as a chef and always had a love for the industry. I left the crazy hours behind and got a ‘normal’ job, which happened to be at a coffee company. I loved still being in touch with the hospo industry (just on the other side now), but it was there that I was first really exposed to coffee. The intrigue of it has driven me to want to keep learning as much I can.

What is it about Locale Coffee Roasters that stood out for you…
As one of the originals of the Locale team it was about being able to shape the brand to be exactly what we wanted it to be. Obviously great coffee is critical but making it more approachable and emphasizing the importance of good relationships was what I felt was missing and these things have always been a huge focus for us.

Ben, you are the epitome of a coffee connoisseur, tell us your journey to becoming Australian Roasting Champion…
Winning the 2018 Australian Roasting Championships was the result of years of roasting and cupping, combined with accumulating more experience of the competition format, its rules, and ways to maximise potential points on the scoresheets.

Why did you decide to build a life and career around coffee?
My beginnings in coffee were very humble, and along the way I developed more and more passion and dedication for the craft, but I owe a lot of my progression to the support and opportunities provided to me by the Genovese family, and their companies Genovese Coffee and Locale Coffee Roasters.

Pat, you came second in this years’ Australian Coffee Roasting Championships, what has it taken to get to that point?
Pat:
Success in any coffee competition comes down to teamwork. Our team heavily analyses every aspect of coffee roasting, so I guess it’s a culmination of years of analysis, experimentation and trial and error. Being dedicated and loving what you do is also helpful. I work as part of a great team who have been involved with this competition for a few years now, so experience helps too.

What does a competition like that entail?
It’s a 3-day competition that is based around roasting and blending 4 different coffees. Each competitor must present a blend and a single origin. Each competitors’ coffees are blindly tasted and scored based on the quality of their roasting and their flavour descriptions. Other smaller technical aspects come into play also, but it’s essentially whoever can adapt their roasting the best to un

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