After a half-decade selling green coffee to some of Melbourne’s best roasters, our longtime friends and partners at Cafe Imports now have a home to call their own in the city’s hip Abbotsford industrial district. The space is a hub for sample roasting, cupping, green samples, and hangs—y’know, the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes your favorite roaster’s coffee taste so good. We got an inside look at the creation of the new Cafe Imports space in these photos shot by Caitlin Cooreman.
Cafe Imports Australia is helmed by Joe Tynan, a career coffee professional with deep roots in the Melbourne specialty coffee scene. We sat down with Tynan digitally to learn more about Cafe Imports’ work in Melbourne and beyond.
Hello Joe Tynan! For folks who are unfamiliar, give us some background info about your previous work with coffee.
I actually started as a barista with one of my early jobs in this actual building we now occupy (Veneziano‘s “First Pour”) nearly 9 years ago, so this kind of feels like full circle to me! I started roasting for Veneziano shortly after. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to work for a selection of great roasteries including Proud Mary, Sensory Lab and Code Black.
In a buying capacity, I started working with Cafe Imports 5 years ago while at Sensory Lab. Noah Namowicz passed through on his first trip down here and we’ve worked closely on coffee from then on, continuing our relationship through to Code Black. Each time I’ve traveled with Cafe Imports, I’ve been impressed with the commitment to sustainable relationships and pursuit of quality, so when the opportunity came to head up the Australian office, I jumped on it!
How is the Cafe Imports space something new for the Melbourne coffee scene? Who is this space for?
Over the past several years, there have been some really great folks bringing in better green coffee into Melbourne. Prior to that, roasters really had to try and do everything themselves. It was a necessity.
Cafe Imports helped support this scene in Australia from the early days. They were shipping coffee from the U.S. to Melbourne and Sydney to some of our now core roasters back when very few people were doing high-end coffee.
About 5 years ago, we started warehousing coffee in Melbourne, and Noah (Namowicz) was managing our customers and partners while still in the US. At Cafe Imports, we really pride ourselves on our customer experience, and now having someone with a fully stocked lab and office on the ground allows us to better serve our customers, more similarly to how our U.S. customers interact with us.
This is a big deal for Melbourne because now there will be another collaborative space for roasters to explore coffees and delve deeper into green coffee education. We have an open door policy here and encourage our customers to use our lab and equipment to help them and their business.
What’s your favorite origin country to travel to?
That’s a hard! I find that every new country I visit, every producer/mill owner I shake hands with, my appreciation for their coffee grows! It’s inspiring to see such passion from producers wanting to participate in specialty coffee matched with humility from those already there! It’s a real privilege to visit all of them and work with their coffees. Most recently, I traveled to Kenya, Ethiopia, and I am now in Brazil. All three of these places have been extremely different experiences and extremely impactful for me.