Cafe Convos - Coffee Drs - The Alternative Dairy Co.

From the family growing fields of Minas Gerais, Brazil – to door knocking his local neighbourhood, Luke Bantatua shares why sustainability is important when it comes to creating the perfect brew.

 

Tell us a bit about your café?

I started by door knocking my local neighbourhood of Westleigh and selling my coffee beans to anyone who had a coffee machine or used brewing devices that needed freshly ground coffee. 

 

What are you known for?

We are known for giving a great coffee experience to the local Hornsby community.

 

Tell us something people don’t know about you or the cafe?

Our family grows coffee in Brazil in Minas Gerais. We understand the reality coffee farmers face when growing coffee which is why we choose to commit to supporting coffee farmers all over the world to help heal coffee and make it sustainable for the future.

You seem very passionate about sustainable livelihoods for coffee farmers and the importance of working collaboratively with them. 

 

 

How are you aiming to make a difference?

We are making a difference by giving our local community a great coffee experience and helping those customers who are curious become more aware of the impact we can have when we commit to supporting farmers for their coffee. Sometimes it’s hard for a farmer to know how much to invest in their coffee growing for the following year with no commitment from the roaster. With our growing coffee community, more impact is possible.

 

Owning a café is a very popular dream for many people. Was it always your dream?

The cafe part was not always my dream, but I do enjoy brewing and experiencing coffee from all over the world. I knew that I enjoyed building a great community of people and I found that coffee was a vehicle that could help build that community and impact many people’s lives for the better.

 

Has it lived up to your dream?

It most definitely has. Life is better everyday when you can come to work with team members who share the same values as you and give customers a great start to their day. It’s also great hearing from our home brewing customers that they are enjoying Coffee DRs beans at home because of our recommendations. Being around a negative culture can be draining on you (we’ve all been there) so being surrounded by a positive community definitely is a great way to spend each day. We highly recommend it!

 

Where would you like to take the business?

I would like to take the business to many local communities and give those communities the same culture we have here in Hornsby. As the communities build, the rebuilding of sustainable coffee can happen as well.

 

What would be your advice to others thinking about jumping in to setting up a cafe or roastery?

Don’t quit your day job straight away. Use your time outside of work to do work experience in a cafe or roastery to see if you like it. It will also show you what working 18 hours a day looks like 7 days a week to see if you have enough grit. These types of hours won’t be forever but as a business owner you truly have to enjoy the process of business, hitting goals that you set and dealing with pressures from outside and inside your business. When you make the jump; you are no longer paid in proportion to your hard work; instead you are paid based on the quality of decisions you make.

18 hours a day, 7 days a week seems like a lot for people and running a business can be like this especially for the first couple of years. I remember working at a wine bar and dessert bar at night for stable income and then door knocking with my coffee during the day. I also didn’t see my friends for a year. Be ready to make sacrifices like this for the bigger picture.

 

 

Sustainability is a major focus for you. Can you tell us where you see the industry going in this area in the future?

I can see that the farmers who are fortunate enough to be paid with enough incentive to keep growing coffee will. The rest will look at diversified farming like corn because it will be more rewarding for them to put their kids through school and put food on the table. The consequence of this for us coffee lovers in the future will be less variety of coffee to enjoy and choose from; coffees will become more generic.

 

Have you noticed your customers becoming more knowledgeable in food and beverage choices?

Yes, most definitely, we can see that our local community cares more about where their coffee comes from and supports our brand because of our mission and culture. People are happy to pay more for a product and service when the quality and attention to detail is there.

 

What’s your favourite dairy free milk type?

Alternative Dairy Oat milk; especially as a piccolo or strong latte.

 

Have you noticed a distinct shift towards plant based?

I would say that the shift from soy to almond and oat is growing.

 

 

How do you think The Alternative Dairy Co. Performs?

They perform very well. Their service and culture is also very focused on sustainability and their goal of getting detailed data to prove this is respected by us. 

 

How important is it to buy locally, buy Australian? Why?

This was one main reason why we moved to The Alternative Dairy Co. for our Oat Milk. It is important for us to buy locally. We believe that when locals support locals, their community thrives for the better.