Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Recently I headed to brisbane and was pleased to watch the Wallabies whop the All Blacks in Rugby Union, this was a pleasant distraction from my true purpose of heading north which was to introduce myself to our new distributor Fino Foods.

I couldnt help but check out some of Brizzy's local coffee haunts which included a 45min drive to participate in a local coffee geek meet (yes, my condition is that bad). I also managed to become acquainted with the local salsa community (another developing passion of mine) and finish off some books I had been reading. It was quite an eventful trip.

Some of the coffee establishments I ventured to included Brothers Espresso, The Coffee Cart at Brisbane's Markets (Lukey), Anouk, Caffeine, and Bulimba Bean. My visit to Bulimba Bean turned into an espresso training, cupping and roasting session with the passionate and hospitible owners Robert & Tanya.

This trip also proved to be quite a culinary adventure, I had the fortuitous opportunity to indulge in some of Australias finest salmon, oysters and wines prepared by some of Brisbanes leading chefs.

I just browsed at the clock and it got me thinking about my plane to catch to in 4 hours to Sydney (for Aroma Rocks). I'll post some pics and finish my yarn here soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Somage hits the Slopes!

Completing a hectic few days I headed the following day up to Mt Buller (another 3.5 hr drive!) where we brought Kali to Victorias Ski slopes. The day was glorious, probably the first time I have been able to see the mountain on my journey there (being an avid snow boarder, to get first tracks most of the time when Im headed to the mountain it is shrouded in clouds and darkness)

My trip to Mt Buller coincided with the season opening - we decided to join in with the festivities and hand out some Kali Premium Chocolate to warm up the Snow Getters. Kali proved to be a huge success, look our for it at many of the warm retreats on the mountain (I also now have a good excuse to hit the slopes a little more often!).

Hopefully the queues arent this long to get Kali in the future!


Barely off the plain and we headed to the western district of Victoria to the undulating pastures of Warrnambool. I think I'm getting better at the trade shows - after a 3.5 hour drive the next day after my return from hong kong we setup and made some chocolate & tea for the locals (we returned to Melbourne later in the afternoon). Thanks to gerrard of SL who helped get us established there.

Report on HK

I'm not sure I had time to contemplate what my experience of Hong Kong would be, however quite reassuringly I wasnt confronted by much of a culture shock. I found it easy to navigate, easy to ask for directions and relatively easy to find last minute materials to preapare for Hofex (my reason for being there!). I probably (quite ignorently) didnt anticipate the extent of commercialisation by Western companies in Hong Kong which really is the gateway to China.

After much rearrangement, quite proudly I finally finished setting up the Somage Fine Foods stand in the Australian Pavillion of Hofex. I didnt really know what to antipicipate - Afterall, I was trying to sell tea to the chinese! I was was optimistic nonetheless.

Once the booth had been setup, I had a chance to check out the countryside a little. I was asounded at how many high rise buildings they could fit on a small bit of turf, but at the same time I didnt find it overly crowded while transiting around the place.

It wasnt long before I discovered why I didnt really stand out as much as I expected - Hog Kong had quite a large population of ex-pats living there. There was heaps of western type bars filled with heaps of westerners. I managed to catch up with Paul Pratt of Just Java who was kind enough to lend me a coffee machine for our booth. I went to his coffee roastery which featured an electric probat roaster with an air filtration unit that utilises water to clean roasting emissions before being released into the air.

Despite the westernisation of Hong Kong, it seems quite abit of the eastern heritage is still preserved. Despite how modern much of the infrastructure is, I was a little suprised at some quirkynesses (if thats a word) you can encounter. One is that they still use bamboo scaffolding on high rises.

Another was street sweepers - literally people swept the street. There is essentially two social classes which transcended in varous ways including the nature of restaurants (expensive western restaurants catering for tourists vs cheaper chinese stores) and modes of transport (taxi for westerners, bus for locals).

After a few days at Hofex (where encouragingly our Chamellia Organic Tea & Kali Chocolate were proving to be quite popular), I stumbled accross the infamous (from coffee geek) peter tam, who offered me a coffee at his booth.

In return I made a hot chocolate using Kali which Peter seemed pretty happy with..

I have to say after the coffees I had that I'm proud of specialty coffee we are treated to in Australia (well at least in pockets! - I will speak more about the pioneers of our industry in Australia in later posts). In the end Hofex was a great experience, providing a lot of potential for Somage to make an impact in Asia.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I'm headed to Hong Kong

It feels if I've only just stepped off the plane from South Australia and I find myself packing for Hong Kong. I fly out shortly to attend Hofex, where on behalf of Somage Fine Foods I run an exhibition stand. These are exciting times, it represents our first major push to commence exporting. I will post some pictures and tales of my expedition shortly.

Monday, May 07, 2007

South Australian Adventure

I decided that I should head accross to South Australia to check out the local coffee scene and assist our distributors over there. The timing of my trip was planned to coincide with the running of the Australian National Barista Championship, held at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide. My camera has been going a bit bung lately so I wasnt able to snag that many pictures (at least ones that didnt have peoples faces looking like cursed victims in "The Ring"). I have included a couple from the few moments it was behaving.

The National Wine Centre

Scottie Callaghan won the event by a very small margin (4 points) to last years National Champion, David Makin.

(me & scottie)

There were some nice cafes in South Australia. Although South Australia has one of Australias best master coffee roasters (in Tony Di Angelo) I felt that in regard to the quality of coffee served by cafes is that the best is yet to come.

Here are three cafes I encountered during my travels that I thought were well on their way.

Rigoni's Bistro

At Rigonis I discovered a great milk called "Tweedvale Milk" from the adelaide hills. Was impressed by the taste consistency cream content and foam stability (this is at a time that many milks deteriorate as the cows are placed onto dry feed).


At stirling, Rubys has the recipe for success - a focus on great quality ingredients, coffee made well (hate to admit, by a melbourne barista), appealing fit out.

and The Essence

Another cafe in Stirling (In the Adelaide Hills), The essence has a warm cozy feel. I gave a few pointers on coffee making whilst I was there, they seemed eager to learn more after the example I gave.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Melbourne Coffee Guide

Well I'm pleased to announce that I will be reviewing for Melbourne's version of the Sydney inspired Coffee Guide. I've already submitted 5 reviews - it's been a chance for me to get out and explore some cafes that I hadnt been to before. The Melbourne Coffee Guide is due to be released around September this year with around 150 cafes reviewed. Reviews are anonymous - and there'll be no bribery or favouritism shown (be afraid, the coffee nazi could be lurking!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Western Australia Trip

In the leadup to the Victorian Barista Championship I decided I had better check out the Western Australian Barista Championship having not organised one before. The trip was great, aside from the chance to visit the Margaret River, experience Perth's Coffee Culture and lend a hand at the WABC, I also got to celebrate my Nanas 80th Birthday (Happy Birthday Nana!).

Below is a picture from the Judges Callibration Session that I participated in in the lead up to the Western Australian Barista Championship.

I was pleased to see that Perths coffee culture is developing, I was treated to quite a few great coffees - Velvet, Epic, Tiger Tiger to name a few.

Velvet - Great Piccolo Latte (Acidity of their blend cut nicely through milk)

Epic - Passionate Owner, Great Doppio Ristretto

Tiger Tiger - Got a chic Melbournian feel - Very cool place hidden in a lane way, well made coffee.

I'm planning to head to South Australia toward the end of this month to check out the Final of the Australian Barista Championship and Adelaide's Coffee Scene. Any recommendations?

Victorian Barista Championships

It's a little embarrassing how long it has been since my last post. Cant believe quarter of the year has passed. There is going to be a succession of posts, so much to catch up on.

Well, with a sigh of relief I can say that I held the Victorian Barista Championships. To get it up and running meant some time out of the business, fortunately the effort seemed worthwhile as the feedback has been very positive. I would also like to credit Justin Metcalf (WBC Head Judge) who really spent a lot of time helping me get the championship off the ground (his technical perspective was invaluable also). The event was held at the Beachclub (Waterfront city, Docklands), I was pleased to see a pretty large crowd of 250 or so people entertained by the comical antics of Cam Smith from RRR Radio (as MC for the event), I had also envited Paul Bassett (previous World Barista Champion) and Emily Oak (World Barista Judge) along to judge in the final. Competitiors interacted with the public by making coffees using their competition blends after competing (the caffeine addicts were pleased). Dave Makin retained his crown with his impressive professional performance; from my perspective as Sensory Judge I believe the overall standard of compeition really was very good (most of the finalists have expressed an interest to try again for the Australian Final in the open heat held in Adeliade). The experience was quite rewarding, looking forward to explore more opportunities to judge in the future. A final word of thanks to the sponsors (Sungold Milk, Cafetto, Davinci Gourmet Syrups, the beahclub, EES) and all volunteers who made the event possible.

Check out the photos here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

New Somage Website

So much news!

Busy working over the Summer break we were able to launch a new website for my company Somage Fine Foods. The new website provides information on our company, products, associated cafes etc etc. We're soon to add a specialised blog for the website, as well as posting signature beverages and recipes from our customers.

Although we missed the Christmas rush, our hard work over the festive season also finally saw the launch each of our product lines in retail sized packaging. This means our awesome products (if I dont mind saying :o) - Chamellia Organic Tea & Kali Premium Drinking Chocolate - will soon be available in a gourmet retail store near you!


Some spirited reading

Over the Sunmmer break I didnt really have a break, but I did manage to read a couple of books. I highly recommend "The Seven spiritual Laws of Success" by Deepak Chopra, it provides some practical ways to put yourself in a good head space (the guy simply has a temendous insight into the workings of the mind (..for those staunch sceptics, even Oprah Winfrey had him on her show.. :o).

The other book I finished was "Autobiography of a Yogi" By Paramhansa Yogananda. He is truely a guru, I have to admit a considerable amount of the book was beyond my comprehension, but the parts I did pick up were a true revelation. Yet to hear of many teachers of Kriya Yoga in Australia, would appreciate being informed if someone is aware of it's practice in Melbourne.


2007 AASCA Victorian Barista Championships

Hi All,

Happy new year.

Well I can confirm that I've taken on the responsibility for organising the 2007 AASCA Victorian Barista Championships. This years event is to be held on March 25th, the winner of which will qualify to compete in the Australian Barista Championships.

This year the Victorian competition has grown to require a qualifying round, the top 10 place getters will go on to compete in the final. 2006 barista competition place getters gain automatic entry in to the final.

I will be liaising with many of the coffee roasters, baristas and iconic cafe owners over the next few weeks confirming entrants, should you stumble accross this blog and wish to compete or judge, please email me: nwakeford@somage.com.au