Behind the Brew Podcast Interview

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Pete Loring (00:00:08):
Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode, the latest episode of Behind the Brew. This is a podcast all about coffee, all about the coffee industry here in Australia. We're so glad you could take some time and join us today.

Pete Loring (00:00:23):
If you don't know me, my name is Pete Loring from Bricks & Mortar Coffee Co. in South Australia. And we have an episode on today from another South Australian. A very, very great roaster, Adam Marley. He's from Monastery Coffee in Adelaide. And so great to have him on the show.

Pete Loring (00:00:41):
We go into quite a few topics, talk about specialty coffee and what that means, what the terms are. We talk about his roasting competition he was in. We talk about a bunch of other things. Really cool episode. But the thing I love about this one the most was the background that Adam brings to his business and the coffee industry is his economics background, his economics degree and how he expands on what our roles are in the value chain between the farmer and someone sitting in a cafe getting a coffee.

Pete Loring (00:01:12):
Roasters and greens traders and café owners all play a very, very important role somewhere in that chain. He really opens up and brings a new perspective on some ideas that I had as well. And some ideas maybe some of you out there might have had too on what specialty and what direct trade means and what actually the impacts are of some of those things that people are trying to do. Some doing it really, really well. Some doing it okay, some doing it not so well and it's quite interesting when you really actually break down the economic side of it, as how impacting it can be if it's not done right or how great it can be if it's done really well.

Pete Loring (00:01:48):
Yet really, really interesting. Adam spent quite a lot of time talking about that and it was super interesting for me and just learning what part we play. Really, really cool. Yeah, we were talking about the roasting comp, we were talking about some cool stuff he's doing with University of Adelaide. Some stuff overseas. Really, really exciting. Yeah, sit back and enjoy. We'll catch you on the flip side.

Pete Loring (00:02:13):
So Adam, mate, great to be here with you today.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:02:16):
Thanks for having me.

Pete Loring (00:02:17):
No problem at all. I've had a pretty cool moment where you have drunk some pretty delicious coffee so far. I wish you could taste them. But no, they're for us today. So what have you got in the cup at the moment?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:02:27):
So this is the Current Superlatives coffee from Barista House, roasted by Ben [inaudible 00:02:33], Genovese Coffee.

Pete Loring (00:02:34):

Adam Marley (guest) (00:02:35):
It's a controlled fermentation Brazilian coffee, I think. Where has the bag gone? But yeah, and it's really interesting and really well roasted, which it should be because Ben came first and he's the current Australian roasting champion.

Pete Loring (00:02:49):

Adam Marley (guest) (00:02:50):
So not a surprise that it's roasted incredibly well. Good development.

Pete Loring (00:02:53):
Yeah, yeah. We'll talk about that later. But first up. Really keen to hear about you and about monastery and how you've got to where we are at this point in time. Tell everyone where you're from and how you got into coffee.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:03:09):
Yeah, yeah. For sure. I think this story is probably pretty common. You hear it a lot. I was working in cafes part time, while I was studying. I was studying a economics degree, double degree in economics and finance and kind of with a focus in my degree around international trade and developmental economics. That was just... Not for any reason other than that it was stuff that interested me the most. And then just working in cafes, part time and I hadn't really heard of, I was a barista, but I hadn't heard of specialty coffee. I was one of those baristas that drink lattes.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:03:46):
I didn't put sugar and caramel syrup in some of them. But nonetheless, I didn't really think about where the coffee was from. I didn't drink espressos. I didn't taste it. I didn't treat it as a high quality product. And then yeah, so then I finished my degree and at that time and so actually, while I was still studying, that's when I fell into or discovered specialty coffee. I can thank Ben Rosenthal from Black Market for that. He was the first person that taught me how to make coffee at Gloria Jean's all these years ago. Sorry, Ben, if that was the secret.

Pete Loring (00:04:23):
He did work there.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:04:24):
Yeah. We both worked there. So he taught me how to make coffee. He discovered specialty coffee and then CEO one day, he took me around to the original Bar 9 actually.

Pete Loring (00:04:34):
The little dittle one?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:04:35):
Yeah, yeah. On the other side of the road. They brought us out. I think it was a Harrar or a Guji but a natural Ethiopian of course. It's the same old story. It was natural Ethiopian. You go, "Whoa! Okay, this tastes like strawberry jam in an espresso cup. What the hell is this?" And Ben is kind of sitting across the table going, "Aha! See, I told you." And then a little bit down the track, I was looking for work and he was the rep at Veneziano at the time and Argo on the Parade was one of their accounts and set me up with a job there.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:05:09):
Introduced me to Daniel, did a trial shift. Yep, got the job. "You have to improve because you're a crap barista at the moment. You just think you're good." Kind of situation, which is totally true.

Pete Loring (00:05:19):
Oh, but I can pour a heart.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:05:20):
Yeah, yeah. I know everything. And then working there part time and then kind of eventually getting really into the coffee, I think around when I started, Daniel was looking at getting one of the first Synesso Hydras. I think Ian in Bar 9 got one for us, but I think he was [inaudible 00:05:40]. I think they're probably still bickering over that. He got the Synesso first and then I [inaudible 00:05:48]. Why is he bringing this [inaudible 00:05:48] machine? What was so special about it? Learning about the pressure control and all these sort of things. Yeah. I read the manual back to front. And then-

Pete Loring (00:05:55):
This is a whole another world, right?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:05:56):
Yeah, yeah. And then same thing with the coffees. And this was still Veneziano at the time and then talking to the reps and reading the bags and tasting notes. What's meters above sea level? Why is that important? What's Caturra? What's Catuaí? It's like, what are all these things? Why they matter. And then kind of falling down that rabbit hole really.

Pete Loring (00:06:17):
The more you learn, the more you realize you don't know.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:06:21):
Yeah, totally. That's really exciting, that one of the things that... Every now and then I do these things, like what's important to me and what do I enjoy and it always comes to learning is like the biggest one. Whenever I kind of stumbled across... You're in conversation with someone and then they talk about the depth that a topic that you know of, but you didn't know how deep it went or it could go. And I'm like, "I don't know anything about this."

Adam Marley (guest) (00:06:44):
I get this kind of sense of like a kid when you know you're going to Dreamworld for the first time or something like that. It's like... I'm sorry for you're international audiences, this is really Australian-

Pete Loring (00:06:53):

Adam Marley (guest) (00:06:54):
Yeah, Disneyland. But it's this sense of wonder of all these things I don't know which I can find out. And it's really exciting. So I got that with coffee. And I feel sorry for my studies, because it totally took over from. And all of a sudden, economics was so boring in comparison to Gujis and [inaudible 00:07:14] and all these...

Adam Marley (guest) (00:07:16):
Anyway, I got into all that. While I was still working there, we swapped to Five Senses, using for the coffee which was great. And then I finished studying, I finished my degree. I graduated and I was talking to Daniel and we'd always tossed around the idea of roasting this amazing coffee. "We could do that. Couldn't we? Wouldn't that be fun?" A pretty big chunk of hubris thrown in there, as probably most people that start, "I could do that. How hard could it be?"

Pete Loring (00:07:53):
Sure. Go in green, come out brown.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:07:55):
Yeah, yeah. And so, kind of approach me and said, "Do you want to go work in a bank or do you want to give this a shot?" And so we decided to give it a shot. And that was like five years ago and haven't looked back. I'm sorry for everyone that works in a bank, but I'm so happy with that decision.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:08:13):
Yeah, nothing at all to regret about that. I think that the reason is, is because and kind of at that time, we were still, especially coffee, I think everyone goes through these stages. It's like it starts with this gear fetishism. It's like you get really into the equipment and like naked pours. I think maybe not so much now, thanks to Matt Perger and stuff. So everyone's above and beyond those kinds of things. I remember when everyone was so excited about naked pours, [inaudible 00:08:40] was poured filters and all that sort of thing and then you get into the flavor.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:08:44):
And then maybe not everyone, but a lot of people will then start to get into the supply chain, the value chain a little bit more and where the coffee came from and then for lack of a less contingent, the ethicalness or the ethics of where the coffee came from and that whole kind of North-South trade and everything that goes along with that. We're kind of at that point.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:09:07):
It wasn't until we started buying green coffee and then we bought a roaster, all that typical stuff, [inaudible 00:09:12]. And then when we started buying green coffee, that's when I kind of had this aha moment about all the developmental economic stuff that I was studying at uni and all the intersectional trade. I'm like, "Oh, okay. So now this is practical application of the stuff that I found really fascinating."

Adam Marley (guest) (00:09:30):
Part of the reason I didn't want to go work in a bank or at the time, I wish I had now, but at the time do further study was because I wanted something practical. I wanted something feet on the ground and actually applying it. Now, I'm actually doing some work with Adelaide University, which is where I studied and I realized that that's what these post graduates do. It's all on the ground and I could have gone down that route. But either way, it's all worked out for the best.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:09:55):
And then starting to apply that economic side of things to the supply chain just in a way of understanding things better, if nothing else and suddenly I was hooked. Basically, it's like the flavor [inaudible 00:10:08] going for a while. I got bored of the gear fetishism straightaway. It's like I just... It doesn't do anything for me at all anymore. I think that most of that's just a distraction, a very expensive distraction, I think.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:10:20):
I'm very much like if you've got a great... And obviously, a lot of the stuff is important, sure, especially for consistency in a cafe. But if you had a great product and great ingredient, yeah, I'd say just keep it as simple as possible. If you keep it as simple as possible, you're not going to screw things up. So the gear stuff didn't really do it for me. The flavor got me but it was the value chain that really kind of hooked me. I think that's been kind of the main tenant or a key tenant for Monastery from the start.

Pete Loring (00:10:48):
Was that a conscious choice from the start? Were you at that point now or that's kind of grown since?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:10:54):
I don't think it was conscious. I think we kind of just fell into it. Daniel is also very, I don't know how you put it, but like, both of us, it's like we're concerned about humanity. Which sounds really, really hippy and really fluffy but any actions that we're performing, we want them to be for the greater good of... Or no, [inaudible 00:11:17]. That's probably the wrong way of phrasing it. We don't want to be hurting anyone with the work that we're doing. It's like you could have-

Pete Loring (00:11:22):
If you can do something and benefit other people at the same time, thumbs up.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:11:25):
Yeah, that's exactly it. I think it drew both of us. But I don't think it was conscious. I don't think it was... I think it was just... It was kind of what we both discovered it and went, "Whoa! Okay. All right. This is it. This is what we should be focusing on." Yeah, so Monastery and that kind of as for the name.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:11:47):
All this time, I feel... Sorry [Nada 00:11:49], but all this time our friend, Nada, was involved in that whole process as well. He wasn't working in the café like I was and obviously Daniel, owning and running it. But he was a friend. He was Daniel's friend, and then I kind of... I was the addition. I think Nada was the one that was guiding Daniel a lot with all the equipment stuff. He's ridiculously smart. And we were talking about the name, but he's running his own family business.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:12:22):
Same thing with Daniel, running the family business. And so they were putting a lot of trust in me, because I was the one that had the time to kind of do the day to day stuff, operation stuff for Monastery.

Pete Loring (00:12:34):
How important do you define those relationships in the business, though? Like as in the different strengths of people all playing their different roles?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:12:42):
Yeah, I think it's fantastic. I think the more merrier. The more we can get... It's still really small, but we want to expand. Part of that is I really want to get more people into the business, more other ideas and other viewpoints and other ways of seeing things. Not just for...

Adam Marley (guest) (00:12:59):
And again, it might be all airy fairy, but everyone should be especially for smaller business, we're never going to be massive, but for small business, getting everyone involved in the decision making processes. Not just the higher ups. No hero decisions. No executive orders or anything like that. Getting everyone involved in the decision making process, because everyone's got a different wave of seeing a potential solution to a problem and everyone's opinion is valid.

Pete Loring (00:13:29):
Yeah, worth listening to.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:13:30):
Yeah, worth listening to. I'd say that's probably... I don't want to say... Because some people's opinions are going to be better than others honestly. I don't want to sound like I'm that...

Pete Loring (00:13:39):
Don't sugar coat it. Some people just have bad ideas.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:13:44):
But everyone's is worth listening to. Absolutely. And then discussing as a team and then looking for the strengths and weaknesses in every idea and every argument and every potential solution. I think actually Daniel, Nada and I will, we all look at things very similarly. So we probably could have done with a bit more of diverse viewpoint.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:14:05):
It is very much a reflection that the things that the Monastery is good at and bad at, are the things that we are good at and bad at. The more diversity you can have in decision-making processes.

Pete Loring (00:14:20):
Because you can get stuck in your own little bubble then, can you?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:14:22):
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. And that's the thing we're always trying to avoid. We always... I see this in the industry and I'm so afraid of it happening to us. I'm trying to be vigilant against it is this echo chamber kind of situation where... It seems to be happening in kind of every part of the value chain, but if we're just taking the example of roasting, the number of roasters or baristas or even consumers that always drink the same kind of coffee, let's say the same roast level and then you experience a different roast level and you just paint the other coffee as bad, even though there might be thousands of people that really like it, that love it because it's their flavor preference.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:15:07):
At the end of the day, it's like, yeah, there's good ways to roast, that you could roast a coffee badly and you can roast it well. But with something like roast level, there's going to be so much personal preference in that. And if you're only ever tasting coffee that you enjoy that's within your spectrum of stuff that you like from roasters you like or cafes that you like or if you're roasting, from origins that you like, whatever it is, you're never experiencing different things. I'm not saying you have to put it on your menu or... But only experiencing things from one... Cupping in an echo chamber sort of thing.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:15:39):
It's not very useful, especially as a roaster for production roasting. We always cup line and we've always got other people's coffee on the table as well blind. We don't know what's what, with the idea of being that we don't want to be in a situation of there's a fingerprint of our and everyone's got a fingerprint, but there might be that maybe the coffees are slowly getting roasty or they're slowly getting undeveloped. And if we're only tasting our coffees and it's a gradual change, you might [inaudible 00:16:03] notice. Yeah, so it's always trying to avoid that.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:16:06):
But the same thing applies to ideas as well. There's so many aspects of the kind of specialty coffee, I don't like using that term, but premium coffee, high quality coffee, ethical coffee, whatever you want to call it. Specialty is not a useful term. That side of the value chain, you've got commodity on the other side and whatever the hell we're going to call this on this side. That kind of echo chambers and everyone patting each other on the back.

Pete Loring (00:16:31):
It's great. It's great. You taste it in house, and everyone's like, "This is awesome." And then you taste something else and go, "Whoa! Wait a minute." Yeah, wow.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:16:38):
Yeah, we've got to be better at pointing out each other, our own and each other's losses as much as we are each other's wins. Otherwise, we're not going to access more of the total coffee drinking market and I think we're always, "Hey, our coffee is great." And then your customers, soon they're going, "Hey, your coffee is sour." And then we're going, "The customer doesn't know what they are talking about." It's like, well, they're the customer.

Pete Loring (00:16:58):
That happened. We weren't talking about that.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:17:03):
Going back to the start, Monastery... We discovered this whole, the ethics of the value chain kind of side of things. It's not just taste. There's the ethics as well. And then so we went back and so Monastery the name, the idea... And it is a little bit and this might be apocryphal, it might not be the case, but the romantic kind of poetic version of where we got the name from Nada, Daniel and I are sitting down spit-balling ideas, was because Monasteries became the first... During the Dark Ages, they, for a lot of Europe, were the only place where the written word was maintained and kept. And then afterwards, they became the first universities that opened their doors to non-clergy to come and learn, everyone to come and learn.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:17:53):
The ideal from the start, at least was, yep, we're going to get the highest quality coffee we can. We're going to roast it the best that we can and provide the best customer service we can. But we're also going to try and educate people when they want to be educated. We don't do that... And that's what everyone says, "We don't want to shove it down the customer's throat. If they want to learn, great. If they don't, that's cool too. We're not going to tell someone how to drink their morning coffee."

Adam Marley (guest) (00:18:16):
But for those that... We wanted to be able to educate people and not just like, "Oh, the coffee was grown at this altitude and it's a wash process," and whatever it might be. Not all just the technical stuff and not just the romantic stuff, either, the name of the farmer and the name of their kids and all those things that imply that the farmer was well taken care of, but actual details and actual transparency and actual information about how that trade was conducted.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:18:42):
I didn't mean to, but I think I've fallen into a little bit of an almost battle against the term direct trade or like the use of the term direct trade or the obsession with direct trade as a concept and as a quality signifier for that reason. That might have something to do with the degree and we can get into that, but that's going to take up way too much time. There seems to be this thing of not paying attention and giving congratulations or if things aren't going well, the opposite to everyone else involved in the supply chain.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:19:15):
It's not just the farmer and the roaster and the barista. It's like what about everybody else involved in that supply chain, that supply chain that wouldn't exist without those people, would not be possible.

Pete Loring (00:19:24):
So you go through a trader through relationship to the farmer through relationship from the trader?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:19:31):
Yeah, yeah. It might be a little bit different. Yeah, sure. There's direct trade situations that exist. We've negotiated contracts directly with producers and there's still an exporter and there's still an importer. We could have an export license and import license. Why? We were a roaster. We have expertise in that. We don't have expertise and networks and everything else in those things. But no, no. That's a tiny amount of the coffee we get. And the only reason that we do that in those situations is because basically the coffee didn't exist, otherwise. I would have kind of stumbled across it and go, "We really want to get this coffee in and this is the way we're going to have to do it."

Adam Marley (guest) (00:20:09):
But no, no. Definitely traders, importers. Like Melbourne Coffee merchants and caffeine imports and all these amazing companies in Australia doing really great work in Australia and on the ground at origin, forming longterm sustainable relationships with producers. They have expertise, they have networks available to them that they've cultivated, that we don't have.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:20:38):
If you look at any other industry, how many bakers do you know that are growing... Actually, I know some bakers that are growing, but they grow their own wheat. Okay, and there's a lot of benefits to be had there, I suppose. That's actually no, I shouldn't get it. That's not a good example. But in general, there's a lot of industries or butchers that raise their own cattle and that sort of thing. That's kind of taking those two examples of taking the romantic kind of shine of coffee, which is we've got this very romantic kind of shell around it.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:21:09):
But people specialize for a reason and we specialize in roasting coffee. The idea that without... By cutting out those people that have a specialization and expertise in those areas, we're going to make things better. Just on the face of it, that doesn't make any sense to me and has never made any sense to me. The first time I kind of heard that phrase and someone explained it to me, I was like, coming from an economics background, that just doesn't make any sense to me.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:21:37):
Sure there are some situations where maybe if the status quo, the current situation isn't great for the farmer and then there's a large enough roaster that has the capital, has the time, has the network's and the ability to form a direct trade relationship with, that's brilliant. I think a lot of the initial... Like initially, that was... I think I could be wrong with if I'm remembering the history correctly, when people like George Howe and stuff like that, it's like they... That direct trade situation, that was the genesis of a lot of the stuff that now exists with importers and traders who are dedicated to only dealing with that kind of coffee in terms of both the quality and the capital, but also how the farmer is paid and everything else.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:22:21):
I'm not saying direct trade is bad, direct trade is... Sure, it's fantastic. But it's not something that I think we should all be aspiring to, necessarily, and I'm afraid that we're going to have this situation where, because I see this happening, where people go, "Okay. They're not direct trade. They're not good enough." It's like you have to be direct trade, but if you're talking to a roaster like us, a small roaster that's roasting like a dozen cafes, if we were trying to source every single coffee we had direct trade, that would hurt the farmer, that would hurt us, that would hurt our customers, it would hurt their customers.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:22:53):
Because we wouldn't and we can go into it, but it's like we wouldn't have a very big range for them to enjoy and for them to try. We'd be distracted by trying to work on something that we don't have expertise in and we're trying to learn this process. And the farmer, yeah, we might... The first year, great, this is a high quality product. Currently, you don't have access to a good market for it and you're getting a lower price than you should.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:23:16):
We see value in it. We're going to pay a higher price. We're going to negotiate a contract with you and you're going to receive a higher price. That's all fantastic. What about the first year when the coffee arrives in Australia and it doesn't match the pre-ship sample. And we go, "Actually, the has degraded so much that I know that if we bought and tried to roast this coffee and sell it to our customers, that they wouldn't enjoy it and their customers wouldn't enjoy it and our quality is going to drop."

Adam Marley (guest) (00:23:38):
Now, I've got the incentive. I have to decide between the farmer, rejecting the sample, rejecting the coffee and abandoning that farmer who I was meant to be forming a longterm relationship with or potentially hurting our business irreparably by trying to use a coffee, which isn't a high enough quality for us. Those kind of situations will inevitably occur. That's where having markets in place and systems in place, those individual situations-

Pete Loring (00:24:05):
And absorb those changes.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:24:06):
Right, exactly. It's like those individual relationships, they're not robust, but the systems are robust. Again, that's my bias. That's the direction I'm coming from. I'm probably not explaining my thoughts on that topic very eloquently.

Pete Loring (00:24:20):
No, it's making sense. Makes sense to me.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:24:24):
And then at the same time, and so there seems to be this image of roasters who would direct trade better and doing the best thing and roasters who are using potentially even in a situation that they're paying the farmers more, but because they're going through an import or an export or wherever else it's like, "Oh, that's not as good." And a lot of the time when there's... I don't like being inflammatory but there's so many roasters out there that I see saying direct trade and it's like, "Dude, I speak to your importers. I speak your exporters."

Adam Marley (guest) (00:24:54):
Some of these roasters, not so much anymore, but they had asked like the importers or exporters to leave the photos, they get like a photo with the farmer. A few of them we're talking about now, they are direct trade and whatever it might be for all their coffees, probably not. Some of the coffee, sure. There's a lot of...

Adam Marley (guest) (00:25:15):
I think it incentivizes roasters. That's the thing is we're creating this quality signifier that our consumers are going to adhere to. They're going to go, "Okay, direct trade equals good." And so now we're creating that. That's coming from us, not from the consumers. I could be wrong. Maybe I'm freaking out about it. Maybe I'm panicking.

Pete Loring (00:25:34):
You hear the same thing with organic. They go, organic, it must be better and it must be fair trade, it must be this, it must be that.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:25:41):

Pete Loring (00:25:41):
Which those types of labels have to have some kind of value or is it pointless?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:25:46):

Pete Loring (00:25:47):
But is it getting the right message to the consumer?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:25:49):
Yeah. We create those labels, those quality signifiers. Or in this situation we have... And then so as a result, now, we've created this incentive for roasters to strive for that. Yeah, for large companies? Sure. Okay. Awesome. But for most of the roasters out there who are probably bigger than us, sure, but there's probably also quite a few that are smaller than us as well. It's like, it just doesn't make economic sense.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:26:18):
It's not better for the farmer, it's not better for you, it's not better for your customer. People can definitely email me if they disagree with me and I'd love to get into it about why that might be the case and then defer to people who know a lot more about these market forces than I do. We're creating this situation where we're incentivizing ourselves to behave in a way that's not necessarily sustainable and not actually the best thing. And at the same time, it kind of by default, it vilifies those... Middlemen is now a bad word. It's like, "They're a middleman. They're evil."

Pete Loring (00:26:57):
They're just scooping up something off the price for nothing.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:27:01):
They're buying coffee really cheap from a farmer and they're selling it really expensively to us. Okay, I'm sure there are people out there doing it. Absolutely. But that doesn't mean that all of them are. That's ridiculous to paint everyone with the same brush. And yet that seems to be what's going on, is your direct trade, you're saving coffee farmers. And if you're not direct trade, you and the middlemen are evil and bad or not achieving something that you should be striving to achieve.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:27:24):
Maybe not evil, maybe not bad. But even just the thing. I think maybe this is being a bit paranoid, just the idea that the direct trade is this pinnacle to try and reach. That, in itself is a not very useful incentive for roasters and it doesn't help the industry. It doesn't help us grow. At least, I don't think.

Pete Loring (00:27:47):
No. Interesting. Super, super interesting topic. But by the sounds of it, the degree was not lost.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:27:54):
I think I've forgotten most of it. Don't tell Adelaide University that. Hopefully not. Hopefully, some of it's kind of stuck right in there. It's just more so like always taking a step back and just looking at things critically. Like the way we're doing things, the way the industry is moving, things like that. It's like... And even with specialty coffee, it's like it's a really young... If you want to call it a separate industry or an industry segment for coffee as a whole, it's so young.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:28:31):
So much of what we're doing, we're just doing what people always did with commodity coffee better. We're not... I'm sure there's lots of people, there's lots of people doing really innovative stuff. But on the whole, I get the impression that we're just kind of ticking along with making incremental improvements in this status quo. Trading coffee is a fungible product. Coffee contracts still being everything based around the seed price, as opposed to individual... Not individual that's going to be... I guess it could be individual, but that might be a little bit of a logistic nightmare.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:29:04):
The coffee we're buying in Uganda, why is the price that the farmers receiving dictated by harvest quantities in Brazil this year or predicted harvest quantities based on weather patterns and things like that. Obviously, that's a gross oversimplification. But at the end of the day, it is. The seed price too has an effect. That's based on the assumption that it's a fungible product. If I'm a coffee roaster, I'm a coffee trader and the Brazilian coffee is more expensive, I might go and buy some Ugandan coffee, which is cheaper. But that is not how people-

Pete Loring (00:29:35):
That's not how we buy greens.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:29:37):
Right. That's not how we buy green coffee. Not at all.

Pete Loring (00:29:39):
But one thing is you got to remember what the market percentage we're playing in is absolutely tiny. Those thought processes are absolutely tiny in the grand scheme of coffee across the world.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:29:50):

Pete Loring (00:29:51):

Adam Marley (guest) (00:29:51):
And that's the thing. It's like, can we change that? Yeah, people are going to like, "That's just naive." But is it? Why do we have to be resigned this idea that there always has to exist a really crappy product for a really low price that the majority of consumers are happy drinking. They're happy drinking it because they don't know that any better.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:30:16):
Probably, that's our... That sounds really, really pretentious, [inaudible 00:30:21], it sounded really pretentious when I said it, but it's not that they don't... It's like okay, I'm sure there's people that would be like, "I taste this what you're telling me is high quality coffee and I taste this coffee with my coffee that I like, which you're telling me is low quality coffee and I prefer my low quality coffee."

Adam Marley (guest) (00:30:37):
Okay, but I'd say more often than not, that's going to be because the if we take the general situation, at least in Australia, of that specialty, that high quality coffee was going to be underdeveloped, probably under-extracted, really sour. Consumer's probably going to be... That customer might be used to the darker roast. So you give them this really foreign product. Of course, they don't enjoy it. Or maybe the product was fine, but the barista that gave it to them was really snooty and yelling information at them that they didn't care about and making them feel like an idiot. With roasting, with... Obviously, there's people doing this fantastically.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:31:16):
But I'm not saying where, I'm not saying Monastery [inaudible 00:31:20] roasting. I'm always afraid that we're roasting too light and then I talk to other roasters and they're like, "You're roasting a bit dark." I'm like, "Well." Then I talk to customers and they're like, "You're roasting a bit light." and so when I have different roast levels, yeah, let's do that. But then it's like communicating those things well for how...

Adam Marley (guest) (00:31:36):
I'm looking into how craft beer is kind of accessed, the everyday consumer and so many more of that. They've just exploded especially in Australia and they're capturing... They're not creating new beer drinkers. Well, they're probably creating some-

Pete Loring (00:31:49):
But converting the good ones.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:31:51):
Yeah. So why aren't we doing that faster than we are? I'm sure we're doing it and we're doing it relatively well, I guess. But we could be doing it so much faster and that's because we're not accessible. We're shooting ourselves in the foot. We're not being as accessible as we could be, I feel.

Pete Loring (00:32:05):
Is it because of the way we drink coffee? We drink it as a side thing, whereas you sit down to enjoy a beer, most of Australians won't sit down to enjoy a coffee. They'll drink their coffee, they go, they've got their latte on the way to work. Because I always draw the parallel with one. Some people will happily drink an $8 bottle of wine but you got to dinner, it'll be... You might drop 60, 80 bucks on a bottle of wine, but you'll drink it as a special thing where the majority of people will never drink coffee that way. They will drink the 3 or $4 latte and then they wouldn't dare drink a $20 pour over somewhere that was amazingly delicious to reflect the greens price and the and the care and all that and the attention that went to roasting that coffee.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:32:51):
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, and there's probably... I think there's definitely a place for the $20 pour overs and the Geishas and all those sort of things. We never really dabble in any of that stuff. But the definitely a place for I think in drawing people's drawing customers' attention that is like, "Whoa!" And as soon as someone goes like, "Whoa! What the hell?" Even if it's a negative reaction, that reaction is going to draw their attention and they might maybe you get some people researching it, looking into it, tasting it. But now I'm more concerned about instead of it being a $4 latte made from commodity coffee, maybe it's a $4.50 latte made from let's just say sustainably grown and traded coffee.

Pete Loring (00:33:31):
Specialty is fine but there's no other term to use.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:33:35):
Yeah. I know. That's the thing is that we need new terms, we need... Or we need to stop latching on to terms so much and putting so much power into quality signifiers like direct trade or specialty or all of these things. It's like instead of putting power in quality signifiers, which are so easy to fake and so easy to confuse and conflate with other things, why don't we just empower consumers to try and access the information? If roasters don't have the information available or for importers don't have the information available, okay, that's going to be a signal in and of itself.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:34:14):
Again, massive oversimplification. I feel like that that's everything I'm saying is massively oversimplifying it, but all these things kind of bouncing around in my head and I'm not getting them out through my mouth very effectively. I don't want to get... I know that not everyone's going to pay. It's like an incremental thing. It's not going to be the every... And I definitely agree that it's how we... Especially in Australia, I think like last market, last was it Roy Morgan or what? It was like 75% of coffee consumed in Australia is still Winston or something like that. It was just a terrifying number.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:34:49):
Yeah, it's treated and even for café, in that other 25% café, whole bean, whatever it might be, it's a caffeine fix or it's my latte with two sugars or it's my... Even when people are self professed like coffee snobs, so they really care about their coffee more often than not, it's about... They're thinking about the beverage.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:35:09):
If someone told you, "I'm really fussy about my coffee. I like my macchiato exactly the way I like it." And I pronounce it like, "Macchiato," Okay, yeah, yeah. What about the coffee itself? They like, "What do you mean? That is the coffee." Thinking about the ingredients, not just the coffee, the milk. It's like but the ingredients that went into that drink, the product isn't the drink itself, that's a combination of other products of those ingredients. And it doesn't have to be a $20 pour over. It could just be... I like sustainable but again, that's such an easy-

Pete Loring (00:35:46):
Yeah, well roasted good scoring coffee.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:35:48):
Yeah, yeah. It's like sustainable product. I don't mean sustainable in the way when people say sustainable and they're just like, they mean environmentally sustainable or they mean like it causes zero carbon footprint or whatever someone's definition is. Same thing with ethical, everyone's got their own, I try to avoid that word as well. I use it, but everyone's got their own version of what that word means. I mean sustainable and just, we could still be doing this in 50 years.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:36:08):
I had a lot of... The latest study data from World Coffee Research was like in 2050, the current situation if we continue on this path, climate change and other economic factors, yeah, economically sustainable, not just... When I say sustainable, I'm not talking about environmental. Just on its own, economically, just in general, the whole trade, the whole process. Yeah, they said we're going to have potentially, I think was like 60 to 100 million bags short to meet global demand.

Pete Loring (00:36:35):
Demand. That's a lot.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:36:40):
Because demand keeps growing. Demand keeps growing.

Pete Loring (00:36:41):
That's not easy to deal with.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:36:43):
Yeah. And there's so many... Currently, I'm doing work with Adelaide University in Uganda in coffee, working with growers who are at the moment are producing, receiving a price but commodity coffee effectively who want to oversimplify it. The idea is, the complex name for the title, the full title is value chain innovation in East Africa to improve food security or something along those lines. I think I've got those mixed up. But something along those lines. The idea is farmers who have low income and then what ways and coffees is one part of it. There's dairy farmers and there's maize. And there's always other things. I'm put in for the coffee side of things.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:37:26):
It's working with these farmers who are producing low quality product and receiving a lot of price for it. Can they access... Can they produce a high quality product? Can they access a market to receive a fair price for that product? And then all the things that go along with that, creating a market that works there and market forces which are driving things and incentives and there's so many things that I'm now discovering on the ground. That's the thing, it's like whenever... It's not like a lot of roasters, I think it's like are we using an importer now? We're going to be direct traders.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:38:03):
It's like, no, no, we're always going to be... We don't have this ideal to... That's not what this is about. But as a roaster, who for the most part and this is most [inaudible 00:38:13], even the ones that tell you they direct trade, I think, apart from the really big guys, it's like you're not really exposed to these things a lot. You can get the marketing materials from your importers, sure, and you can talk to your importers, but until you're actually on the ground and talking to these farmers whose livelihoods depend on... A lot of times, it's their only cash crop.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:38:33):
So talking to farmers who coffee berry disease is a fungal disease wiped out 80% of his crop. He had to put his kids out of school, because that was his only cash coming in for the year and it was gone and he had money that he could have spent and this is so anecdotal and so just one situation but he had money to spend on pesticides or fungicides, but because of a lack of knowledge, because of a lack of information, he thought that the trees were suffering from insect, not from a fungal disease and he sprayed insecticide which did nothing. That was the last of his money, but if he'd bought some fungicide, then there's a good chance he would have been able to save at least if not a good chunk of at least some of his crop from the... Enough to get some money, roughly enough that he doesn't pull his kids out of school.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:39:24):
So it's like faced with things like that and you go, "Okay, it's great." Okay, direct trade. The direct trade version would be that. Okay, I find some of these farmers for Monastery and we work with them to improve the quality and we pay them a higher price, great awesome.

Pete Loring (00:39:38):
He still would have made that decision.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:39:39):
Yeah, yeah. We were there and that's definitely one of things we have to address is knowledge. But it's okay, so that's how many farmers are we buying coffee from there? A few dozen at most. But it's like a bit of if we can... And that's why it's great being there with the university because they've got all these expertise. I'm surrounded by PhDs. I don't know anything. It really brings you back down to reality.

Pete Loring (00:40:08):

Adam Marley (guest) (00:40:08):
Yeah, humbling. Yeah. It's fantastic. Okay. So and then they see things and they go, "Okay, so what's going wrong here in the market? What's going wrong here with the [inaudible 00:40:19]. What's going wrong here with incentives? Why don't they have the knowledge that they should? Why don't they have the capital they should? And then what could we potentially do to help fix that situation?"

Adam Marley (guest) (00:40:30):
And then there's and it's not just like guessing and then doing it, it's like it's a direct trade. The trade used to be like, "Oh, I'm going to tell the farmer to do this." And the farmer would listen to you. Like they were... Everybody was just like, "Oh, you're a roaster. What should we do? How should we be mulching? How should we be pruning? How should..." I'm like, "Ask an agronomist. I'm a roaster. I specialize in roasting your coffee." But if I told him to do it a certain way, they would just go out and do it. And so that just...

Pete Loring (00:40:57):
It's not the best way to do it.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:40:59):
It's not the best way to do things.

Pete Loring (00:40:59):
No, no.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:41:01):
And so with the suggestions that they're making with the ideas or the things we want to explore, there's research that goes into that. They're going, "Okay, let's do some research in this. Let's do some testing and see what works, see what didn't work, why it didn't work, why it did work, working out what the kind of key factors for when it did work or didn't work. What went right, what went wrong." It's like analyzing it, and really systematic way, so that it's not just one roaster buying from a dozen farmers.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:41:28):
That you could potentially create... You could be affecting the lives of thousands and you can be potentially creating a market for something that didn't previously exist or was incredibly small. Uganda, is a really pretty unique situation where they've got... I say like the recipe for incredibly high quality coffee, but it's really hard to find. It doesn't really... Why is that the case? You probably say this could have something to do with government, they don't have the same kind of-

Pete Loring (00:41:58):
Infrastructure and-

Adam Marley (guest) (00:41:59):
Right. Infrastructure. Thank you. Yeah, that's, that's exactly it. Access to markets and incentive alignment and all the things that are knowledge dissemination and access to short-term finance and all the things that they might have needed to... But they've got the altitude, they've got the varietal. Although-

Pete Loring (00:42:16):
The potential is there.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:42:17):
We're talking the Arabica. It's got like one SL-14 throughout the whole country. It is almost like one varietal for the entire country. I'm just going... Speaking to the UCDA, and the government, Ugandan Coffee Development Authorities, I'm just like, "Hey, guys. Are you freaked out about this?" And they're just like, "Why?" I'm like, "Whoa! Okay."

Pete Loring (00:42:39):
Yeah, it's just coffee.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:42:40):
"What if there's like a disease that comes through and wipes out all of it?" They go, "Will that happen?" I'm like, "I don't know. Should we not be prepared just in case? Should we think about it? Let's talk about it. Let's think about it. Let's just..."

Pete Loring (00:42:54):
Plan B might be a good idea.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:42:54):
Yeah. For the hell of it, let's have some other varietals just in case.

Pete Loring (00:42:59):
I reckon we could talk about this for hours. Let's change tack. Roasting comp.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:43:06):
All right.

Pete Loring (00:43:06):
Yeah. I'd love to hear about that.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:43:08):
Yeah, yeah. I'd love to say that was a great experience. And in a lot of ways, it was a great experience. Personally, I hate competing. It was a great... If we're removing me from that situation, it was great. But for me, oh, man, that was incredibly stressful.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:43:27):
It wasn't as stressful like, compared to I don't know how barista competitors and brewers cup and latte or how they do it. Because we didn't have to, there's no presentation. We're basically doing the thing we always do. Just there were some people watching and those in cameras as production roasters. And so there was-

Pete Loring (00:43:46):
So what's the format?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:43:47):
Yeah, okay. In the preliminaries, you get sent out some coffee blind and then you have to kind of similar to brewers cup, we have the control coffee and then you have a coffee of your selection. So then you have to roast the control coffee of which you only get a couple of roasts out of because of the limited amount of green you receive and then your coffee, you can pick whatever coffee you want for the coffee that you submit your kind of open coffee.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:44:11):
And so then you send both of them off to the panel who then cup and assess everything blind and you have to send along your roast profiles and some information about why you roasted the coffee the way you did, what you're trying to get out of the cup, all those things and then assess the preliminaries and then they pick the top 12 out of that.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:44:30):
That was all just in your roasting space, on your equipment, whatever equipment you want. And then so then for the finals, that was at [inaudible 00:44:36] and we were tucked in there. People were like, "Was that [inaudible 00:44:39]? I didn't see that." We were tucked away in the corner. Yeah. It was a great setup though. We had three Diedrich Roasters followed by AMC and all set up and all running fantastically and then all these AV equipment. That was everything was put together in a run by Lucy Ward and Ann Cooper and they did an amazing job and a bunch of volunteers and stuff as well.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:45:02):
I don't know them by name, but everyone did an amazing job. It ran super smoothly. As a competitor, I didn't have to stress about any of those things. I just had to roast coffee. Which is what you want. Those [inaudible 00:45:15]... For that, you had the three roasters set up and then everyone kind of had a turn. I think there's only 11 of us on the end. Well, there's 12 of us in the end because one person dropped out and then there was someone else brought in.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:45:29):
And then you kind of rotate on the roasters and you get again, the coffees, it was not blind. You get to assess the coffee. Before the event, you're given out the coffee to assess in whatever way you want. But you're not allowed to... You didn't get a chance to roast that coffee on that equipment.

Pete Loring (00:45:43):
In the finals, you get a new coffee in the finals.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:45:46):
No, no, no, it's the same coffee. But, unless you happen to have the roaster, I don't think any of us did. If you happened to have the exact roaster, and even then it's like... It's not going to behave exactly the same way even if you did have exactly the same.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:45:58):
I should have had a bit of a leg up. I'm not sure how many others there had roast on Diederichs but the roast was Diederichs. I roasted in a Diedrich. That Diedrich is really heavily modified and I think that probably helped me in the end. So I treated it like our Diedrich and it was years ago that we modified it and I've completely forgotten what roasting on Diedrich in Australia that was unmodified was like. That gave me a whole bunch of like hubris, confidence I shouldn't have had. I was like, "I know Diedrichs. This is a bit comfortable."

Adam Marley (guest) (00:46:25):
It was definitely comfortable for me because I know all the controls and stuff. I think that was definitely a leg up and I still didn't do well.

Pete Loring (00:46:34):
I don't think you did-

Adam Marley (guest) (00:46:37):
Those guys that did well, they nailed it. I don't think one of them might have roast in a Diedrich. I'm not sure. But yeah, the coffee where we're drinking now, Ben took out first and he definitely deserved it. We cupped all the coffee's together. We didn't know whose coffees was what, were what up until afterwards.

Pete Loring (00:46:54):
So you get like how many goes at the same coffee?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:46:56):
All right. I haven't gone through the format. The coffees that we got to assess previously, but then not on that roaster and that equipment. So and I guess what they're doing there is they're kind of reflecting what a roaster does.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:47:12):
I like speaking to other roasters about these things. But you know the coffee, but you don't know the equipment. So then on the first day, you get a different coffee. Not the coffee's that you're going to be submitting, but a different coffee, a practice coffee to practice roasting on the equipment. So then by watching how that coffee behaves on that equipment, you can get to learn the equipments.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:47:35):
Now, you've got separately you know... The idea is you know how the equipment is going to treat the coffee, how to use the equipment, and then you know how the coffee you're going to be roasting kind of behaves but not combined.

Pete Loring (00:47:48):
The two together.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:47:48):
Exactly, the two together. And said that's what... On the day, you really don't have enough time to re-roast anything. Maybe you get one re-roast.

Pete Loring (00:47:55):
You just have to put those two different understanding the equipment, understand the green, you put them together, use your expertise to roast it well.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:48:03):
Yeah, and you have to submit your what I'm going to do and what it should taste like in the cup before. It's very much assessing your ability to not only to roast well, but to understand the coffee and understand how to roast that coffee in kind of a foreign setup. No, it's a good... I don't think it's a good way of... There's some things that I'd say like you don't roast that way as a roaster like you'd never I mean, it'd be rare to roast it right the first time. I think many people are going to like...

Adam Marley (guest) (00:48:30):
Most roasters will say like, "Yeah, it takes a few roasts at least to get the coffee tasting the way you want it to taste or even close to the way you want it to taste." And so yeah, I mean submitting the very first shot but then at the same time, like all of us are on the same playing field. Like all of us had the same situation of you submitting your first. So they're assessing how good you are at combining the knowledge of the green coffee and the knowledge of the equipment together, getting it right the first time and-

Pete Loring (00:48:55):
That's a challenge.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:48:56):
Yeah, right. I think that the setup is a cool setup. And so yeah, the first day of roasting your practice coffee, you cup that coffee the morning of the next day and then the next day you're doing your final run. You have to do two coffees in that you have multiple greens, but there's two submissions. There's a blend and then there is a single origin. The coffee is provided for. I think it was provided by Condesa this time.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:49:20):
I feel like I should mention all the sponsors. Everyone did an amazing job and the sponsors. It wouldn't have existed without them so it was really great. It was a good experience.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:49:29):
In that regard, Adam Marley, I hated it. Just because I hate competing. It was funny speaking to an about it as well, it's like she's like, roasters, production roasters, you're a certain breed of people. Like being in the back room. I'm just like, "Yes, Yes, please. I do not like being on camera and all that sort of things."

Adam Marley (guest) (00:49:53):
It's nice just being a being you put your tunes on and you crank out your production roast and your cup and it's all like quiet and peaceful and there's not a crowd of people assessing every little thing you do. That's trust me, I didn't hate it. I really, really liked it. Yeah, it was a great learning experience. That's what everyone always says, right? It was a great learning experience.

Pete Loring (00:50:16):
Yeah. How varied were the cups of the same coffee?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:50:20):
No, no, no. Not that varied. I'd say it was the amount of variation that you would expect in a room full of people that don't know the equipment and don't know the coffee. You've gotten like one opportunity to assess the coffee and one opportunity to assess how the equipment's going to behave. But for the most part, the coffee was good. There's a few coffees on the table, which were when we're cupping our own and again, it's all blind. We don't know whose coffee's what.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:50:48):
And that's great, because then you can be... It was funny because we're tasting around, there's like a couple of coffees which have been roasted. And everyone's like, "I hope that's not mine. Is that mine? I hope not. I hope mine is not the roasty one."

Adam Marley (guest) (00:51:01):
But [inaudible 00:51:02] but then no. There were three coffees for the final submission, at least I'm trying to remember now, for the blend at least, or at least two, if not three coffees that stood out as being sweeter, juicier, rounder on the table and they'd be the top three.

Pete Loring (00:51:19):
[crosstalk 00:51:19] Get to look at those profiles afterwards?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:51:21):

Pete Loring (00:51:22):
Okay. Okay.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:51:22):
And if you're paying attention at the time and you weren't roasting, because they are on a monitor. Yeah, yes, anyone standing there can watch the profiles. But because... At least maybe I've got terrible eyesight, but you can't see the numbers. You can see the RoR shape, you see the time-temperature shape. At least I couldn't see numbers. And so actually, [inaudible 00:51:40] afterwards, I messed with my crops to graph to get as much resolution as possible. And so I blew up... I kind of changed on the fly, changed everything. So my RoR was almost touching the top of the screen.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:51:54):
And then it was kind of ending and so everyone... [inaudible 00:51:57] "Your graph looks so different to mine." I'm like, "No, no. It's just because I changed the scaling." Because you can change the scaling, you have no idea what someone's RoR is actually. It might look like it has a really high peak, not that we should be paying attention to anyway. Scott Rao who would chastise me for even caring whether... But turn points, [inaudible 00:52:15].

Adam Marley (guest) (00:52:17):
People might go, "The peak looks really high." But that might just be because they've changed the scaling around. Effectively, no. You can't see what other people's profiles are or what they did. I've resisted emailing Ben. [inaudible 00:52:33] shouldn't. "Hey, dude, what did you do?"

Pete Loring (00:52:39):
Yeah. What's coming up next for Monastery?

Adam Marley (guest) (00:52:42):
Yeah, so we've been... I guess we're five years old now. And we've grown. We've grown pretty steadily, but at no point have we focused on growth. It's always just... It's just kind of being like we're going to do what we do. We're going to focus on that, focus on supporting our customers and focus on the coffee and probably getting, I don't know if distracted is the right word in terms of the really finer details in roasting.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:53:10):
We know we're the first one we have like little internal meetings, like what are we doing? What are we doing badly? Yeah, we're probably like... From our point of view, we love obsessing about the cup, about getting that last point or two points out of the coffee. "Is that coffee a tiny bit bakey? Should we change that? Is there a tiny bit of roast creeping through in that?" but then at the end of the day, how many of the customers are going to care on that level and yet we spend... I reckon I do one Instagram post a month. As I said-

Pete Loring (00:53:37):
Guilty as charged.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:53:37):
The idea was to educate people and to connect with consumers and we just were not putting nearly enough energy into marketing. And marketing, people use it as a dirty word, but it's totally not. For us, it's just about finding people that might want our coffee. We're not doing that well. And so we need to focus on that. We know we need to focus on that.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:54:00):
Again, it's like what are you good at, what are you bad at? And we love obsessing about the quality but we're just not showman and we're not by heart and so that the marketing side of things is, yeah. Our growth which has been from people tasting the coffee in our wholesale, cafe accounts, and then really going, "Hey, we really enjoyed that," getting my number, giving me a call. I think it's that kind of organic growth. But we're at a point now where we know we want to either... We kind of have to grow, we kind of feel like we have to grow and actually it was... Partly you could say like, "You don't have to grow." You could stay small. But it's funny because I was having a conversation with Josh from city mag about a recent article.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:54:46):
Anyway, he was like, "How many jobs have you created?" And I'm over the years with great, how many jobs have you created? I'm like, "None." Because from day one, we've always... Whenever we've grown, we've improved efficiency. We've gotten... Our first reinvestment into the business was buying a machine to help us package faster to reduce wages there. We kept saying, "We don't want wages to blow out and then either increase the costs for our customers or will mean that we have to buy cheaper green coffee." And so we bought a-

Pete Loring (00:55:16):
You're doing all the right things economically for your business.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:55:17):
Yeah, you're right, you're right. But then we're just like, actually, yeah, we should be creating jobs. I'm not saying that we don't want to be less efficient. We don't want to have more jobs because we're inefficient, but what we want to do is grow so we can be efficient, but larger and be employing more people.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:55:30):
And so yeah, and so we do have expansion plans and some stuff. There's some interesting kind of stuff that hopefully goes ahead there which I'm probably going to talk about next time.

Pete Loring (00:55:42):
Stay tuned.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:55:43):
Stay tuned. But yeah and part of that is going to be actively pursuing some growth. Again, I want to avoid and I speak to other roasters, I think we have a good relationship with other roasters in SA and stuff. So we want to avoid... I speak to roasters in Melbourne and they seem to have had this situation where the specialty roasters seem to be going after each other and competing with each other on price, especially with their blend. They like, this like massive price war and so they're all pushing each other's price down and-

Pete Loring (00:56:15):
It's not going to be anybody.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:56:16):
Right, but there's still so many cafes using [inaudible 00:56:19] and are using commodity coffee. It's like, "Hey, how about going and trying to onboard?" And that's the thing, because for especially I think we're in this situation in general. Like we're really good at onboarding the early adopters and the mavens and the consumers, the people that would drink craft beer, or natural wine, or whatever it might be. It's like those guys, you can do the typical specialty coffee thing and everyone's doing and you will capture them but not many of us in the industry are good at capturing, are good at onboarding, converting people that are drinking, like we talked about ages, earlier on, ages ago, earlier on.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:56:53):
The kind of standard... Okay, we might be able to get the instant coffee drinkers, but at least the people that are drinking Lavazza or something like that and giving them this and being more approachable for them and trying to try and get them on board. It's like... And then... Sorry, yes, especially we shouldn't be inviting [inaudible 00:57:12] to a specialty but again, if we're going to call it that, we should be trying to tackle the commodity guys.

Pete Loring (00:57:17):
We all want the nice looking cool places that already have a reputation and you want your coffee in there, rather, because it's obviously a lot harder work to take something that's not at that standard and lift it up to-

Adam Marley (guest) (00:57:27):
Yeah, and convince because it's a massive risk. It's the thing, it's like he's saying to a cafe owner, it's just like, "You risk everything on this more expensive product that you will potentially get more business from or be able to charge your customers more on, maybe." It's like it's a big risk. It's a big ask and we totally get that. No. It's difficult?

Pete Loring (00:57:47):
Difficult with the fixed price. Well, not the fixed price, but the seemingly fixed price of your average latte or cappuccino in the cafe.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:57:55):
Yeah. Everyone's so afraid to put up their prices that the customers will... No one would come in anymore. Coffee is relatively... It's price inelastic. You put it up 20 cents, people are still going to... You might get a few people that complain, you might lose a few customers who go down the road to the guy who's selling it for 20 cents less. But keep in mind, for every single sale, you're making 20 cents more.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:58:19):
Is it going to be that the amount of... The loss you get from customers who weren't coming anymore, is that more or less than the gain from every sale having 20 cents more on it? How many cafes are actually looking at those numbers? It's a gut thing, it's fear. You're going, "I'm afraid." And so many cafes are afraid of ever losing customer. I think it was Colin Harmon had a great... He did a talk ages ago, I think from 3fe.

Pete Loring (00:58:46):
Yeah, man. I love that guy. He's so good.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:58:48):
Yeah, really smart guy. I think it was him. I think it was at talk. I don't think he was... I read his book recently which is also great. But it was one of his talks, where he said something along the lines of like, whenever they get busy, like too busy that they can't keep up, he increases price.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:59:06):
Obviously, I'm oversimplifying it, because he worked out that... Obviously, he's got the numbers and he is looking at the numbers and he's looking at the things he's going, "We need less customers paying a higher price. And if we've got more customers than we can handle, obviously we're too cheap." And we could increase our prices. Yes, we're going to have less customers. We're going to make more per sale. The customers have a better experience. The baristas have a better working experience, because they're not stressed the hell out and the bottom line looks better.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:59:30):
And then you're not asking your supplier, you don't have to ask your supplier-

Pete Loring (00:59:34):
This is what I find interesting, is that's exactly what happens in the restaurant world. Right? And it happens on the food side of cafés.

Adam Marley (guest) (00:59:40):
Yeah, yeah.

Pete Loring (00:59:41):
It's exactly the same thing. Like you don't go into a certain appearance only, yeah, that's a general simplification. But you look at a place and you can judge it and you look at the food and the layout and you kind of equate the price on the menu to the quality of the food and you go, "Yeah, that reconciles." And then you're happy to pay more for the meal because you know it's going to be But the coffee doesn't... You don't do that with the coffee because the price is so stagnant. Super interesting. But yeah, pay. That makes so much sense.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:00:10):
And it goes back to the point you made earlier where it's like, especially and I don't know about US, but in Australia, people have this very, "Oh, it's coffee. I'm not paying more than this for coffee." Coffee is meant to be one of those things, which is cheap. Why? I get why it was, but why does it have to continue being that way?

Adam Marley (guest) (01:00:29):
Sure, there's going to be people that you're never going to get, you're never going to convert. It's always going to have to be something that's cheap to them that the service station $1 coffee, that's all they're ever going to buy. They consider anyone pay more than that an idiot. Okay, fine. They're not our target customers. That's okay. But there are a lot of people that would be willing to pay, I think, again, there's a lot of people that are willing to pay 20 cents, 50 cents more for a latte or a [inaudible 01:00:56] or whatever it is. But they haven't been onboarded for... Why? Why hasn't... And not by us, not by... By isn't into specialty coffee as a whole in this higher quality product.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:01:15):
Going back to craft beer, it's like why are people paying 50%, 100% more than they were. And I go back to this, I drink beer and I drink craft beer now. I used to drink cheap beer and I got away. You know what? It is more expensive, but the taste is worth it. [inaudible 01:01:33] it's an answer that I got. Okay, so even if we ignore it, it doesn't have the ethical angle that coffee does. Coffee is like even if it didn't taste better, but you're helping farmers have a sustainable living to be able to send their kids to school and everything else is like, I mean, that'd be enough for me, I'm so done.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:01:49):
And I think most people would be. I think it's because they either don't know about that or whatever it might be. That goes back to the quality signifies little places, touting they're helping farmers in the long run, maybe they are, maybe they're not. Let's get more transparency and less quality signifies I think, but then the flavor thing is the big one for me, because... That is going to be the thing, it's probably a bit naive to think that if it doesn't taste better, people are going to be willing to pay more just because the ethical angle. I'm sure there is going to be a few people, but you're going to grab the most people with that. And so is it tasting better?

Pete Loring (01:02:24):
It has to taste better. It just has to.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:02:24):
We're enjoying it, but is the average customer enjoying it? And then again, so it's just I think accessibility is a massive issue that we're kind of facing. I think part of that is I mean everyone roasts light. We roast light in Australia. Like for specialty. I think the number one email I receive from customers just like, "Hey, can you help me dilute my coffee. It's coming out kind of sour." It's not coming out. It's roasty. It's not us coming out bitter. It's not on that end of the spectrum, on the whole.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:02:59):
I think that's pretty indicative. That's a pretty good representation of where most roasters are and I get it. It makes sense. It's like we've got this, we're paying more for a high quality product where the farmer's put a lot of work in and it has to work. It has character. It tastes like, let's be pretentious for a moment. And it tastes like blueberries and papaya and papaya and everything else and all those wonderful things. We don't want to cover that out with roasty flavors.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:03:24):
Yeah, cool. Awesome. I agree. That's ideally how we would want to represent the coffee because that's how we enjoy the coffee. But even if it's just an option like giving... Whatever the customer who... And the number of times and when I was at barista-

Pete Loring (01:03:40):
Just give me chocolate nuts.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:03:40):
It's like, yeah. Totally. Or, "Hell! Give me smoke." I have an old joke. I remember like give me fuel, give me fire, give me [inaudible 01:03:49]. A few years ago. I want to always want to be disappointed in our coffee and thinking there's room to improve in that light. I don't want to ever sit back and go yeah, coffee is perfect. Because then when you get to that point, it means you're not going to improve. I always got the mindset of how can we get it better?

Adam Marley (guest) (01:04:08):
Anyway, so I'd like to think that every year, our coffee is a little bit better than it was the year before. A few years ago and someone [inaudible 01:04:17] a few of their design, I bought this coffee from you. It was nice and smoky. I'm like, "Oh, nice." I'm like... I said sorry about that. What batch was that? We record all that batch data, I'd go back and we didn't pick it up when we QC'd it, but maybe we were under extracting it or maybe we didn't weigh it long enough. Whatever it is, I really want to go back and-

Pete Loring (01:04:40):
That was from like 2017.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:04:42):
This is the other time. This is the other time. And then that is I don't know why I really liked it. I'm like, "Oh, all right. Well, I still want to QC, but I'm glad you liked it." And so I think we're given one option and that's the thing is and I was speaking to some friends recently and they were like, "I don't like stout. I don't like porter, I do really like pale ales or personally for me like, I'm not a huge fan of really hoppy American or Indian pale ales.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:05:18):
I really enjoy porters and stouts. Say with malt heavy and loren in hops. It's like, but in craft beer, you have those... From the same brewery, you have those choices, you have those options as a spectrum. Asking everyone to enjoy basically, I think what we're doing especially, not everyone, but a lot of specialty coffee companies without roasting even with our green choices, we have these really fruity, really floral, bright coffees if we want to pat ourselves on the back with that terminology instead of sour.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:05:48):
But it's like, we're giving people the option to buy IPAs and IPAs and IPAs. We're not giving people the option for stout. Obviously, some companies are doing this. But on the whole, I think most customers first experiences with this different coffee, with this higher quality. They're being told it is one where they didn't enjoy drinking it and not because it's not better, objectively. Whoever gets to decide what better is, it's because it was foreign.

Pete Loring (01:06:18):
Yeah, it's just different.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:06:18):
It was just different.

Pete Loring (01:06:21):
It makes you think about it and then they just drink it. And it's just subconsciously, they just drink it. Or they drink and it stands out and they go, "What was that?"

Adam Marley (guest) (01:06:28):
Yeah. And so some of them go, "What was that? That was delicious." And then equally someone would go, "What was that? That was horrible. I didn't like that."

Pete Loring (01:06:34):
But it made them think.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:06:35):
I've spoken to a customer that said, "I really want to enjoy a specialty coffee because I really want to make an ethical choice of how I spend my money days, but I don't like it. It tastes bad."

Adam Marley (guest) (01:06:47):
I have spoken to customers are just like I've... When I was a barista, I've poured them single origin and they were natural. So I can hear because it was natural, but naturally Ethiopian coffee and they've stood there at the counter. And I've [inaudible 01:07:04] it in and I've tasted, and I'm like, "This is [inaudible 01:07:06]. This is tasting great." And they screw up their face and then you're like, "I don't want to be rude but I really didn't like that. Can I have a different coffee?" And I go, "Oh, yeah. Absolutely, definitely. But can I ask why?"

Adam Marley (guest) (01:07:16):
And no joke they just said, "It tasted like strawberries."

Pete Loring (01:07:19):
Yeah, yeah.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:07:19):
I'm like, "What? So you don't like strawberries?" They go, "No, I love strawberries." I'm like, "I'm not connecting the dots."

Pete Loring (01:07:29):
But that's not coffee.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:07:30):
"I don't want my coffee to taste like strawberries." That natural taste. Haters out there, that was some natural that taste like strawberries, but I get why people don't like naturals. I'm razzing them up. But we get that with the blueberry and just the general kind of the berry fruits and someone might say, "I don't want a hot milkshake. I want a hot thing that normally I eat cold."

Pete Loring (01:07:56):
Yeah, yeah.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:07:57):
And equally, I've been cupping with baristas before. If I pick up any kind of [inaudible 01:08:05] characteristics in our coffee, I'm like, "To me that's a bit underdeveloped." If it's capsicum tomato, I'm like tomato is technically a fruit, for sure. To me, that tastes pretty underdeveloped. Savory flavors in general, but I was speaking to some baristas that have grown up and became baristas in other countries.

Pete Loring (01:08:22):

Adam Marley (guest) (01:08:23):
And they were just like, "That one has like a capsicum flavor. I love it." And I'm like, "Oh, oh, okay." And then [inaudible 01:08:29] savory. They're like, "Yeah, why does coffee have to be dessert? Why can't coffee have savory flavors?" To them, that was... I thought it was underdeveloped. They didn't... That's the thing, it's like... But most customers in Australia, I think, yeah, capsicums not going to be a flavor they want in their coffee.

Pete Loring (01:08:45):
No, no. Strawberries might not be a flavor they want in their coffee. I think we need to stop patting ourselves on the back so much as an industry.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:08:54):
Sure we got wins, and we should be celebrating those wins. I'm not saying we should be down on ourselves. There's a lot of... That I'm not against direct trade. But I don't think it's... Is this idea we should be... Everyone should be... It works well in some situations and in other situations, there are better ways of doing things.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:09:13):
I'm not saying that everything we're doing is bad as an industry. We're doing amazing. A lot of people are doing really awesome stuff. But it's like okay, but if we were nailing everything, why is an industry growing as a segment? Why isn't it capturing more of the everyday coffee drinker? We should be looking critically, as an industry looking what are we doing? Well, sure. Awesome. Now, what are we doing badly? What could we be doing better? Let's pull the ego out of it a bit and don't be so afraid of admitting that we're still working it out. Like roasting coffee in particular, like that's kind of my main... Doing this stuff origin, sure, being a barista, sure, but my main and I'm sure I'm going to sound to people like I'm looking at things as a roaster and I am and that's my point of reference.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:10:00):
Even as roaster, like as I was saying, if we go, "Our coffee is great," we're never going to improve once you say those words. You're always going to be going, "Okay, how could it be better?" And so pulling the ego out of that, don't put your heart on the line when you hand someone an espresso or you give someone a bag of coffee you've roasted, it's like be prepared for them to say, "I didn't like it." And be able to go, "Why?" And not have to go and cry and be really sad and upset.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:10:28):
Because if we're afraid of that criticism, then... That's the situation we're in now. I think that's why. I think we're so afraid of criticizing ourselves, of admitting that we're still working it out. Like coffee roasting is... Again, that's my angle. It's like we're so like the science, the sum, sure. And there's more science coming out great, but we're so in the dark with with that stuff.

Pete Loring (01:10:50):
Or even just trying to learn what the profiles are saying and realizing that no, the turn point is just really the [inaudible 01:10:59] and the bean. It's not [crosstalk 01:11:00].

Adam Marley (guest) (01:11:03):
[crosstalk 01:11:03], I remember I felt [inaudible 01:11:05]. When Scott Rao that pointed that out to me, the first time, Scott Rao, and I remember I felt I had this like... I can't remember what it was, the emotion reminded me of I remembered all the times when I'd first started racing that I was like, watching the time. "My turn point was 80 degrees Celsius. Exactly. Yes!" I remembered all those times. And I felt like a little kid that was really proud of a drawing that sucked like it was... I was so happy at the time. It was like no, no, no. You can ignore that. Don't worry about that at all.

Pete Loring (01:11:37):
It does tell you about your pre warmup routine, doesn't it.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:11:40):
Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Yeah. So you get to get consistency, reflection. So I guess that was... No, totally that was why I was happy.

Pete Loring (01:11:43):
That's what you were aiming for.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:11:46):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Because I was like, "Yes, my consistency between batch protocol was dead on." That's exactly it.

Pete Loring (01:11:51):
Let's go with that. I like that.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:11:52):
That was why I was excited. Tell Scott that was why I was excited at least.

Pete Loring (01:11:58):
Man, we've just pushed on an hour and 10, believe it or not.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:12:01):
Whoa! That was quick.

Pete Loring (01:12:02):
So we wrap it up at I had a great time chatting with you today. I'm sure everybody out there in podcast land has really enjoyed all that we've discussed. It's been a really cool day. Thank you so much.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:12:14):
Cheers for having me on. I apologize to you, to listeners if I was rambling on stuff.

Pete Loring (01:12:18):
No, not at all.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:12:19):
I tend to do that.

Pete Loring (01:12:20):
No, it's all good. It's all good. All right. Well, if you've got any questions for us, you can hit us up at... Where can they get you on socials?

Adam Marley (guest) (01:12:29):
Yeah, yeah. So it's just @MonasteryCoffee for everything. Monastery is M-O-N-A-S-T-E-R-Y because sometimes people get those backwards. So @MonasteryCoffee, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I'm never really on Twitter. And then if you wanted to email, just throw, that's me or any anything on the website, it's like one and a half of us.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:12:54):
There's not a big corporation where you can get lost in the system, it's me. It's my fault if it takes ages to respond to your email, I apologize.

Pete Loring (01:13:04):
Send it on the first day.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:13:06):
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Pete Loring (01:13:08):
Cool. All right, man. We'll wrap it up. Thanks again.

Adam Marley (guest) (01:13:12):
Thank you Peter.

Pete Loring (01:13:12):
There you go. What a great show. He's a clever cookie, Adam Marley, tell you what and he makes a great pour over as well. I had a really great time hanging out with him. And so glad I could share this episode with you all. Yeah, if that's changed your mind on direct trader, if that's changed your mind on what the terms are that we uses as coffee industry people and how we're communicating that to the greater public or anything like that, feel free to hit us up.

Pete Loring (01:13:40):
You can email us at If you've got any questions for Adam, I can certainly fire them along or if you've got any questions for our previous guests, let me know and I'll get back to you. But yeah, thanks again for joining in. Thanks again for all those people that are subscribing, all those overseas listeners.

Pete Loring (01:13:59):
Big shout out to you guys. Definitely seeing the love from overseas. Yeah, a lot of listens from around the world, which is really, really cool. But yeah. So if you want to hit me up on anything or if you've got any guests you want to see on the show or if there's any particular questions or topics that you want me to cover, feel free to email us as well. Check out our socials @BricksMortarCoffeeCo. And yeah, touch base. I'll say good day. But most of all, thanks so much for tuning in and don't forget, stay classy, stay caffeinated. Until next time.