Aaron Wood, a Kiwi turned Melbournian, grew up playing in punk bands. While most punters—a colloquialism for customers—wouldn’t think that punk has anything to do with roasting coffee, Wood has a different perspective. As the founder of Wood and Company Coffee, he’s seen both sides. “I think everything I do relates to my years touring and playing in bands,” he says. “I think I’m getting more creative as I get older.”
Wood keeps company with Jana Royse and Rhys Durose. As a team, the three are fast earning a name as one of the better roasters in Australia—their coffee is featured on countless menus throughout Melbourne and up the country’s east coast. With always-tasty offerings, Wood and Co. conduct business in a familial, low-key way without ever sacrificing quality. You can identify their coffee by its packaging, the work of designer Ed Davis, and their small offer list—which includes a blend called Twin Peaks, and a handful of single-origin coffees and micro-lots.
Wood got his start in roasting with a rejection, asking a company for a job as a roaster at 19—and promptly being told he was too young. Thankfully, Atomic Coffee Roasters in Auckland, New Zealand, were more accommodating, and soon Wood found himself working for the pioneering specialty roaster in dispatch.
“I’d get to work super early, smash out all the bagging then go hassle the roaster,” he says. “He’d make me sweep, clean the chaff collector, weigh some green.” Slowly, Wood worked his way up the roasting chain of command at Atomic, and a few years later found himself as the head roaster. He’d later take a job across the Tasman at Seven Seeds in Melbourne, then a fast-growing roaster that would become a breeding ground for the city’s coffee community.
“It was pretty intense but a super amazing opportunity,” Wood says. “I cupped with the best, we discovered a bunch of nerdy shit together. I went around the world a few times visiting producers and mills.” It was at Seven Seeds that Wood honed his skills for green selection and roasting, but eventually got to a point where he was only overseeing QC and green buying and realized he wanted something else.
“I got kinda lost and had to leave,” he says, but the story, of course, doesn’t end there. It ends at Wood and Co., where now Wood—the person—bangs out consistent roasts and grows his business slowly. He’s no longer the mover and shaker he once was—instead deferring origin trips to his colleagues while he stays home to look after things.
When asked if, during his career, any coffees stuck out distinctly, Wood knew the answer right away.
“Cupping outdoors with Moata in Jimma, Ethiopia,” he says. “You have to remain very open to what can be in a cup of coffee, remember that you are drinking seeds processed by people grown in the earth. At the end of the day, I just fucking love drinking coffee.”
Jai Pyne is a coffee professional, recording artist, and journalist based in Sydney, who has written for The Thousands, Good Sport, and Lost at E Minor. Read more Jai Pyne on Sprudge.