Story & photo Kate O’Neill
He may be 70, but local coffee grower Bob James isn’t thinking of retirement any time soon.
The Myocum farmer, who has been part of the local farmers markets for almost 20 years, says he looks forward to his weekly outings.
‘It’s always interesting coming to the markets,’ he says.
Locally born and raised, Bob started growing coffee after a career driving trucks and buses. He and Marlene planted coffee trees on their farm in the 1990s.
By the early 2000s, they’d joined Byron, and then New Brighton and Mullumbimby Farmers Markets, where they sell their bags of roasted coffee beans, as well as their coffee by the cup.
Aside from the roasting of the coffee beans (and the picking, which he admits he finds a little hard these days), Bob is hands-on in every step of getting the coffee from farm to cup. After they are hand picked, the ripe coffee cherries are delivered to Bob’s shed, where they are pulped, fermented, sun dried, then bagged and aged for 4–6 months to mature and develop their flavour.
The final step is roasting, which gives Bob’s coffee its distinctive full flavour. Bob has his coffee roasted fresh at a roastery in Rosebank every few weeks to either dark or extra dark: ‘The extra dark is roasted longer, which draws more oil out of the bean and gives you a stronger flavour,’ he said.
The whole process is documented in a little book of photos that Bob brings to the markets each week and displays on his stall for his customers.
Despite last year’s drought, Bob says his coffee trees had a big flowering this year, and his team of pickers have just finishing the last pick on this year’s bumper crop. Once processed, this new crop of beans will be mature and ready to enjoy in a cuppa by early next year.