Sometimes, as a Sprudge writer, you find yourself in peculiar situations—ones where you might otherwise be concerned for your well-being. Take, for example, the trip I took one day recently, about 10 kilometers northeast of the city of Adelaide, into a semi-industrial neighborhood, looking for a couple of guys in a shed using a bunch of machinery to cook up some tasty treats. On the surface this scenario could seem quite sinister, but luckily I was just going out to see a neat little roastery by the name of Monastery Coffee.
Founded in 2013, Monastery Coffee was set up by Adam Marley, Daniel Milky, and Nader Shahin, three fellows who at the time were “simultaneously disillusioned and passionate about changing things—locally and globally,” as Marley describes. With university educations in economics, finance, and geophysics, respectively, Marley, Milky, and Shahin set out to fill what they saw as a gap in the coffee industry in Adelaide at the time, aiming to create a roastery that represented quality, consistency, and traceability.
Nearly three years down the track, Monastery is now operating out of a shed within a shed (essentially a cool-room infrastructure within a typical shed structure). Here they roast on a 12-kilogram Diedrich using Cropster software, and a range of machinery for quality control, including a Mahlkönig EK 43, an espresso machine made by Shahin himself, a Nuova Simonelli Mythos One, and a Mojo refractometer. Green coffee is sourced through the likes of Melbourne Coffee Merchants, Cafe Imports, Handpickers, Silo Coffee, MTC Group, and Latorre & Dutch. Marley has also previously traveled to Burundi to meet with and source coffee from the Long Miles Coffee Project.
In a town with a slowly growing specialty-coffee industry, Monastery has, perhaps expectedly, experienced some pushback, as Marley explained: “I regularly hear a variation on, ‘Wow! That’s some of the nicest coffee I’ve tried, and we love what you’re doing ethically. However, we just don’t think our customers will appreciate the difference, and our margins can’t accommodate the higher price, sorry.’ ” In this, the challenge to Monastery (and other small roasters) is plain—whether to make an effort to highlight to their current clientele the reasons of quality and traceability that account for why their coffee costs more than others’, or to try and attract a new demographic.
Marley, however, is optimistic as regards the way the Adelaide specialty-coffee industry is progressing. “What I’d like to see is a day where the average customer is informed and inquisitive—when the consumer starts demanding transparency and quality, the market for ethical, and delicious, coffee will grow. So long-term, and philosophically, we want to help educate coffee drinkers—not just specialty-coffee drinkers, but all coffee drinkers.”