Perth television producer Rob Pedretti is a man who loves his coffee.
So much so, he’s cut down on his TV work so he can source Colombian, Kenyan and Tanzanian coffee beans from some of the world’s best suppliers.
Rob – now well known to Perth customs officials, who initially regarded him with suspicion when he came to collect his hessian bags – then expertly roasts his beans, divvies them up, and delivers them to a growing band of aficionados across Perth.
Here at Starfish HQ, we’ve become regular customers, after first stumbling across Rob at Mt Claremont Markets.
Rob, what makes a coffee outstanding?
Top quality beans. And they have to be roasted fresh. When a customer calls me, I roast the beans there and then deliver them their coffee the next day.
If you were blindfolded, could you tell where a coffee comes from?
Yes, most of the time! I did that once, went to a seminar and got 8 out of 10.
How did you get into importing coffee?
It all started as a home hobby. I just wanted to make better coffee for me and my friends. I was living in Melbourne at the time, seven years ago. Everywhere I went there was great coffee. I was talking to a lot of Italians and Greek people and I got into the science of how it all worked. I got hooked – so much so, I decided to ease out of TV and get into this world of fine coffee flavours! I had to buy a roaster – I started with a small one that only roasted 500 grams – and a commercial grinder. It all went from there. Now I supply to small businesses and offices including Collier Homes, the Telethon Kids Institute, and many other businesses. It’s quite a science, getting it exactly right. It’s how well you roast.
And how did you decide where to source the coffee?
I started to import about three and a half years ago. In Melbourne, they all love their Colombian coffee so that’s what I first got exposed to. I started off buying a fairly average bean, going through a distribution company. Then I really got into the research. I Skyped a dozen Colombian farmers and spoke to them about their coffee. One guy sent me a sample bag and it was really really good coffee – the best I ever had. I told him I loved it and would love to buy some – and he said, “how many tonnes?”
I said “Sorry, I’m not needing that much!” He said, “We only sell them by the tonne.” That was that – or so I thought. But three days later he contacted me, saying, “I looked up Australia and I have no customers in Perth so I’ll send it off to you.” He keeps inviting me to come to his farm! One day I will. His beans are consistently great quality.
Once you import, what next?
I buy the beans in 35 to 70 kilo bags, and store them in an air-conditioned room until I’m ready to roast. I can do a kilo every 15 minutes. Once you’ve got the bean and roasted it a few times you’ve worked out the best temperature. Whether you’re after a light roast or a dark roast can depend on the bean. Kenyan could be 15 minutes and Tanzanian coffee takes longer. The Colombian, a medium to dark roast, needs a longer duration. Temperature, duration and intensity are all factors.
What’s the standard of coffee like in Perth in general?
Nowhere near as good as Melbourne, but it’s a slow education process. A number of cafes have started to roast their own beans. Humblebee in Mt Hawthorn does a great job.
The coffee scene in Perth is quite political, is it not?
Definitely. Unfortunately a lot of cafes get supplied equipment by the bigger players and they’re then bound to buy their coffee beans. So even if the proprietor loves my coffee their hands are tied. I’m just a small player in Perth but I make sure I roast nothing but the best green beans that are available.
Where can people buy your coffee?
Mt Claremont Market every second Saturday and Kyilla Primary School Farmers Markets on alternative Saturdays. Otherwise you can order through my website pedretticoffee.com or call me to discuss an orders or any questions you may have on 0412 120114
Talk us through the three different types?
Colombian: It’s quite earthy with a cocoa finish. Very smooth, not too strong and no bitterness. I start every day with a short black Colombian. Kenyan: I tried 14 different sorts of Kenyan green beans but struggled to find one that stood out from the rest. Then one day I stumbled across this one and it was absolutely superb. It’s a wine citrus flavour with a berry finish. It’s a very refreshing a great mid-morning coffee. Tanzania: I’ve just started with this one. It’s outstanding. I have had tremendous feedback with this and it has become my best seller. A bit of a cocoa/grape berry type finish. Very different to most coffees. Absolutely delightful. It’s my current favourite.
How many coffees a day do you drink?
About three. It used to more but I had to cut down!
Are many of your TV colleagues buying your coffee?
A few! I currently supply one of Perth’s bigger advertising agencies, Adcorp. But sadly most hacks are still drinking instant! Back in my TV days we were all drinking cheap instant coffee and many colleagues’ palates haven’t really refined since then but I will eventually get them to convert.
We have three one kilo bags to give away to Starfish subscribers (if you haven’t subscribed yet, it’s free, just enter your email at the right of the screen, then be sure to double-click the confirmation email.) To win, Like or Share this story and tell us where you can find Pedretti coffee?
Contact Rob for your coffee beans on 0412 120 114 or check out his website www.pedretticoffee.com