We interviewed founder, Ben Richardson to learn more about Made of Many coffee roasters, the coffee culture from around the region and how you can apply a few key principles that can change your life.
Better Coffeer: What was it like to win the Australian Aeropress Championship? What does the preparation look like?
Ben Richardson (BR): To be honest, it was pretty surreal winning the championship. It was my second year competing in the competition, but I was determined to think very methodically about how I was going to brew the coffee.
Most of the preparation involved breaking up the brewing into several different categories:
1. Thinking about the strength that the judges would enjoy the most
2. The temperature that it should be by the time they were going to taste it
3. All the different extraction elements
I knew from previous experience that the dilution method that I had used in all the rounds that year was going to give me the cleanest cup profile. Another big focus I had in my preparation was testing and analysing different water compositions for my brew water, with one of my key minerals being magnesium chloride. This overall approach turned out to be successful in both the regional and the national competitions.
Better Coffeer: You have recently launched Made of Many Coffee. Can you talk to us more on how the business came about and what you are hoping to achieve with it?
BR: I’ve always had a strong desire to run something of my own. My wife and I have strong core values that we wanted to be able to incorporate into a business.
Our main motivations for starting up Made of Many were: 1.The agile aspect of a small business and the ability to be able to execute ideas quickly and 2. The ability to set up a value structure under which the company operates.
I’ve always had a strong belief that a company needs a very strong vision and intention laid as a foundation, and the ability to be able to be flexible and evolve in other aspects.
find the thing that most deeply motivates you and really identify it - Ben Richardson
As a small company, with these foundations in place, we are able to form stronger relationships with our partners and work together in telling the truest story possible. We are a small roasting company that looks to pair our coffees with cafes that are concerned less about a transaction and more about meaning. We’re looking at how we as coffee roasters can be better contributors to the industry and to keep looking closely at the impact and value that speciality coffee has on the world has a whole.
Better Coffeer: What are the subtle ways that you’ve observed the coffee culture evolve in Australia (home brewing, cafe trends)?
BR: The Australian coffee scene is funny. On one hand, the base level of coffee preparation and presentation is very high, which has built our strong reputation on an international scale. On the other hand, the quality of the actual product doesn’t seem to be going up much; there is still mostly just a select few roasters that are really progressive and innovative when it comes to sourcing, roasting, and brewing.
Another more recent movement is the micro-roaster scene, which seems to be growing consistently year to year. There are now a couple roasting collectives that have popped up in the last couple years making it very accessible for people who are interested in learning to roast for themselves. This seems to be a pretty strong movement internationally as well. With the surplus of new roasters, it gives cafes a large variety to choose from, so we are also seeing the multi-roaster cafe model spreading.
Better Coffeer: Where do people enjoy coffee - back in the home or out of the home?
BR: The Australian disposable income is quite high, so we still see people going out to drink coffee more often than brewing it at home. The home brewers are still a minority and are mostly made up of coffee enthusiasts. Coffee is still a very social activity, which leads people to often use cafes as a destination to socialise outside of the home and away from the workplace.
Learn to say “Yes" as quickly as you can to the right things and “No" as quickly as you can to the wrong things.
Better Coffeer: Are these trends consistent in Australia, or are there unique variations that you’ve observed in different regions (America, Europe, etc.)?
BR: My wife is from America and I’ve spent a fair bit of time there, and we also just moved back after living in Europe for a few years. I can say that all three- America, Europe, and Australia- have very different coffee cultures.
America has a really large filter/drip coffee culture that is in stark contrast with Australia’s strong espresso-based culture. Europe itself is extremely diverse when it comes to roasting styles and how coffee is incorporated into their cultural norms. It’s particularly exciting tasting and hearing about the speciality coffee scene coming out of Eastern Europe. They seem to be defining their own unique take on what it means to them and their communities. The Scandinavian countries have always fascinated me with their strong philosophies on light roasting. I have to say, a few of my personal favourite roasters hail from this pocket of the world.
Better Coffeer: What do you think home coffee drinkers should focus on when they’re just starting out?
BR: I commonly see home brewers get carried away by trying coffees from many different roasters and many different regions. While this is a great way to explore flavour, it can be terrible for learning to brew coffee well and understanding extraction dynamics.
My advice to new home brewers is to buy good equipment once and focus on one region’s coffee from one particular roaster until you start to understand how brewing affects flavour. Approaching it in this way will fast-track the understanding of the preparation of coffee and give much better results when you then move on to brewing a wider variety of coffees from different roasters.
Better Coffeer: What's the best advice you have ever received?
BR: To find the thing that most deeply motivates you and really identify it. Once you have that, learn to say “Yes" as quickly as you can to the right things and “No" as quickly as you can to the wrong things.
These two words, coupled with the actions that follow, are the things that define you. Learning to say both these words confidently and fearlessly is probably one of the greatest things I’ve learned so far and is something I’m constantly trying to apply within my own life.
Better Coffeer: Where can fellow coffee lovers find you?