Bullet casings, bolts, rock and gravel not what you’d hope to find in your coffee beans.
For Moorabool-based coffee roaster, Luke McPherson this was just the start of an amazing journey with Karon Farm Coffee
In 2016 Luke and wife Susanna left the fast lane in Sydney due to family health reasons – and relocated to a picturesque property near Millbrook.
It was always their dream to one day retire on a small rural farm but life-changing events prompted them not to wait.
It proved to be a wonderful decision
A rural Moorabool setting was as much about discovering a quieter way of life as it was for Luke continuing his hobby of home-roasting coffee
But the move to the countryside wasn’t always going to be about coffee.
An earlier attempt to breed goats was the couple’s entrée into farming but when they began naming their goats it soon became apparent livestock production was not their forte.
They turned their attention back to coffee, work and getting to know the local community.
The goat on the original Karon Farm Coffee label plays homage to their early days of rural life.
The art of roasting coffee is not as easy as throwing green beans in the roaster and pressing a button.
Luke began roasting his own coffee using a bread maker and a heat gun.
“I spent 15 years roasting coffee and learning from members of a Geelong ‘coffee snobs’ forum.” he said.
When he decided to turn his passion into an enterprise, he purchased a commercial 7kg roaster and was roasting up to 10 hours a day, 7 days a week to supply customers in Gordon, Ballan and Bacchus Marsh.
His signature blends such as Morning Habit have fast become a favourite amongst those who appreciate a good brew.
Luke recently upgraded to a Gold Coast-designed-and-manufactured 22kg roaster that can handle 72kg of coffee beans an hour.
The highly sophisticated machine monitors every aspect of the roasting process from temperature control to gas levels, airflow and roast style
While the coffee roaster was a substantial investment, it has allowed Luke the opportunity to increase his productivity from roasting 20kg month to recently tipping the scales at 1 tonne which ensures his growing customer base never goes without
Once roasted, the beans go through a de-stoner machine to ensure any small objects like gravel or grit are removed.
In the early days before Luke had the de-stoner, he had to sift through every batch to look for foreign material.
Luke said the biggest surprise he once found was a bullet casing from a bag of Columbian coffee beans.
“Generally the beans are very clean but the de-stoner machine was a good investment for nothing more than peace of mind,” he said.
Luke buys his raw beans from a Melbourne-based importer who sources ethically traded beans from countries including Papua New Guinea, Columbia, South Africa and Brazil.
Luke is proud of the relationship he’s built with his suppliers and can provide full traceability from the coffee plantation through to the moment you pick up a bag of Karon Farm coffee.
Freshly roasted to order is the point-of-difference.
“Everything is roasted fresh to order,” he said.
“We don’t pre-bag except products for the supermarket shelves.
“It minimises waste and everyone gets the freshest coffee possible.”
Once roasted Luke is quick to store the beans correctly. Without this they can quickly spoil
Similar to wine production, Luke spends hours developing different blends to produce unique tastes and flavours
Luke initially looked to well-known Italian blends for inspiration, but was recently notified by his IGA supermarket that Karon Farm was outselling one of the world’s most well-known brands on the shelf.
It was then that the humble small business operator had to admit he was onto something
Luke roasts 2-3 days a week and delivers all over the region
IGA and smaller outlets have been champions of Karon Farm Coffee and Luke is grateful for their support.
He has been rewarded for his hard work by picking up medals in the 2018/19 Golden Bean Awards and 2020 Australian International Coffee Awards.
** The oils and carbon dioxide in coffee beans make them highly combustible.
** The average Aussie drinks 14 cups a week. That equates to 728 cups a year! (Source: Harris and Galaxy survey)
** 46 per cent of the population prefer coffee over tea (Source: 2014 ABS)
“The Moorabool Shire is a great place for produce” he said.
“We have everything here from local milk, flour, strawberries, wine, beef, mushrooms and more.
“Like other producers in the area I too believe our region is fast becoming the next foodie destination
“I’m excited for the future and feel great satisfaction when I walk into a café to see my coffee been served”.
- With thanks to Kate Sharkey
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