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Australian Coffee production
The growing of coffee in Australia is not new. In fact coffee arabica grown on the far north coast of NSW won awards in Paris and Rome in the 1880's. According to the Rural Industries Regional Development Council interest in re-establishing Australia's coffee industry rekindled in the mid 1980s with the advent of machine harvesting, followed by the development of management systems to produce a high quality coffee, and the attraction of a domestic market now worth $483 million in retail value.

Key statistics 

Australian production 

  • Qld - 180 t 
  • NSW - 20 t 
  • Exports - 100 t 
  • Imports - 48,868 t 

Australian coffee impresses coffee gurus
Today, Australian coffee is once again gaining recognition for its unique qualities. Because of Australia's particular micro climatic conditions, the coffee is naturally low in caffeine and is noted for its sweetness, medium body, and chocolate/nutty flavours. There are also no serious pests or diseases that require the use of pest
flowersicides or herbicides making Australia's coffee one of the most naturally produced coffees in the world. The coffee flowers shown on the right are grown on the Zentveld's Estate near Byron Bay under the watchful eye of Mount Warning volcano. Dr. Ernesto Illy (of Italy's Illycaffe) declared Zentveld’s Dark Roast “produced a perfect espresso - a balance of sweetness, body and acidity, without any bitterness”, during his visit to the family coffee plantation. Max Lake (Wine Maker, espresso and wine judge and coffee connoisseur) recently tasted the Ernesto Roast at The Rocks 1999 Aroma Coffee Festival and commented to Rebecca that “ if it gets any better than this, I couldn't stand it! "    Photo shows coffee flowers on the slopes of Zentveld's Estate at Byron Bay        

fruit.jpg Australian conditions suited for coffee growth
Current production of Australian coffee occurs as far north as the Skybury plantation in northern Queensland and as far south as Coffs Harbour in New South Wales. Byron Bay has several coffee estates and small co-operatives which benefit from the rich volcanic soil and frost free ambient climate. Although arabica coffees grow best at 900 to 1200 meters Australian producers have shown that good quality coffee can also be grown at an altitude of 15 to 900 meters.

As ripening commences, the coffee cherry changes
from green to red, then to dark red-purple and
eventually black when over-mature.

roaster.jpg (705650 bytes)Processing of the bean
There are two processing methods to obtain green bean which is used for roasting. The simplest method is `dry processing' where coffee is harvested over-ripe and then dried to 10-12% moisture. The dried skin and parchment is then removed by hulling, leaving green bean coffee. This method is commonly used to process robusta coffee and produces a lower quality product than `wet processing'. In wet processing, coffee is harvested as ripe, red cherry. The cherry is pulped to remove the two seeds from the skin. The seeds are fermented to remove the sticky mucilage layer around them and then dried to 11% moisture. The parchment and silver skin are then removed by hulling and polishing, leaving green bean coffee. The bean is referred to as `green bean' because of its colour. It normally takes between 6 and 7kg of cherry to produce 1kg of green bean coffee. This method of processing produces the best quality coffee. Most of the coffee produced in Australia is processed using the `wet' method. The problem with this has been that to produce top quality coffee all the cherry must be red ripe and immature green cherries must be removed.    Photo shows Rebecca Zentveld,"Queen of the Bean" assessing the quality of the roast.

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