(Australian Associated Press)
A daily obsession for many, coffee is one of the world’s most loved beverages with an estimated three billion cups enjoyed every day the world over. Contributing to that impressive tally is Kenton Campbell, founder and managing director of Zarraffa’s Coffee on the Gold Coast.
With over 90 stores across Queensland, northern NSW and WA, Zarraffa’s serve over 15 thousand coffees a day and over one hundred thousand coffees per week in their 25 Gold Coast stores (13 traditional and 12 drive-thrus) alone.
While International Coffee Day (October 1) brings together coffee lovers globally to celebrate their fondness for a caffeine hit and supports the millions of coffee farmers whose livelihoods depend on it; for Campbell, the date is cause for extra celebration.
“October 1 is the anniversary of when I arrived in Australia 24 years ago,” says Campbell, an American ex-pat who turned a fortuitous encounter with two Australian businessmen at his Seattle coffee cart into a proudly Australian-owned and operated company with an annual turnover of approximately $120 million. “It was the very beginnings of making my ‘American dream’ come true.”
Campbell’s research into the Australian coffee market saw him single out the Gold Coast as the perfect base to build his soon-to-be empire. Meeting his future wife there and starting a family was the extra froth on top.
“The lifestyle and alfresco outdoor cafe environment on the Gold Coast works for people looking to start their day right with a coffee and reading the paper in the sun,” says Campbell, who established Zarraffa’s Coffee, originally a roasting house operating from the backstreets of Southport in 1996. “Back then customers would come in for their daily coffee and sit on a hessian bag full of green coffee beans yet to be roasted by me.”
Shrugging off the suggestion he is among one of the Gold Coast’s pioneers of cafe culture, Campbell says he was fortunate the timing was right.
“Things started to change in the early 2000s and I caught the wave of specialty coffee in Australia. I was one of the small guys up against the big industry players and now people say I am one of them. We’re big but what we haven’t lost is the same drive and reason we get up every day,” says Campbell. “We’re all about providing education and appreciation with the people we train. When you have that appreciation you treat the product a little different. You smile that little bit more and you enjoy serving it every day.”
“We might’ve grown but we still care about where we get our coffee; we care about our customers and the very things that make us such a great brand.”
The focus of this year’s International Coffee Day is highlighting the plight of coffee farmers and the threat to their livelihoods as the cost of coffee beans are at an all-time low due to a global oversupply of coffee.
“We don’t buy fair trade, we are fair trade. We have picked one community we buy from direct. It is a farming coffee co-op in Meru north of Mount Kenya,” says Campbell. “The relationship isn’t just about the coffee and the quality of that, it’s also about the community and the surrounding benefits associated with that.”
Campbell who opened his $20 million national headquarters and bespoke concept Kiwanda Cafe along the M1 Pacific Highway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast in August says he will soon be conducting a roastery tour experience designed to educate and inform customers about the Zarraffa’s Coffee bean-to-cup journey.
“Our customers will be able to understand the entire coffee journey from crop to cup. It will show how many people literally get involved before that cup of coffee is pushed across the counter to you,” he smiles. “It also speaks to our relationships with coffee-growing communities across the world and just what it takes to produce the ‘liquid gold’ we have come to enjoy every day.”
This feature has been produced in collaboration with City of Gold Coast