Bob’s been saying ‘I’ll give it away soon’ for years now – and yet there he still is. Myocum Coffee has been a stalwart of three local farmers’ markets since their inception: most would be familiar with his set-up, the van and the machine and the solitary taciturn figure doggedly dispensing his very own coffee.
Because – and this is the great thing – the coffee Bob James sells at the markets is that rarity up here, it’s his own beans. Despite the plethora of coffee-growers/producers in the region, most of them rely on beans grown elsewhere, including overseas, for creating their own blends. No blends in Bob’s coffee: it’s the beans he has grown on his 2000-odd trees at Myocum for nearly thirty years.
In 1994 he acquired some beans and transplanted them to Myocum. ‘No one told me how hard the beans were to pick!’ Or indeed to cultivate. It took Bob six years before his coffee had any reasonable flavour. ‘It was trial and error’, he tells me. ‘In those days there wasn’t much research. The seasons were better then. Eventually we got going, getting a pick after five years.’ That first ‘pick’ didn’t have a lot of flavour, but by the following year he was up and running, doing everything except the roasting (still done by a woman in Rosebank).
Bob was brought up on a dairy farm at Tyagarah and ‘always had to be up to milk early, before school. There were always bits and pieces to do in the dairy.’ I have this moving vision, as Bob submits patiently to an order for a lukewarm Chai on Soy by a plump spikey-haired woman in a jumpsuit, of a very small Bob milking cows in the dark before heading off to school. Let’s hope he keeps deferring this retirement!
Myocum Coffee can be found at New Brighton on Tuesdays at 8–11am and Mullumbimby on Fridays at 7–11am.