Members of the Sunshine Coast Coffee Guild are committed to working with our youth

Members of the Sunshine Coast Coffee Guild are committed to working with our youth

When visiting the Margaret River you go on a food trail, at the Barossa region, it is wineries on a map …. some dedicated locals are working hard to make the Sunshine Coast the coffee destination of Australia. Along the way, these roasters are brewing opportunities for our youth.

When a group of local coffee roasters got together and asked the question “what can we achieve by working together?” The answer was “there are no limits”.

A shared passion for education, collaboration and a vision to see the Sunshine Coast become the ultimate coffee destination, has brought together six of our finest coffee makers to form the Sunshine Coast’s Coffee Roasters Guild (SCCRG).

Founding members, Clandestino, Flying West, Montville Coffee, Tim Adams Specialty Coffee, Sunshine Coast Roastery and Pioneer Coffee Roastery, launched the guild at the 2015 Real Food Festival.

The next step became reality when they asked themselves “What if the Sunshine Coast had a coffee trail?”

Guild member, Karen Barnett from Montville Coffee, said, “Seeing how popular food trails are, got us thinking about how much fun it would be if, as coffee lovers, we went to a region with a trail for coffee!”

“People could experience an incredible diversity of coffee on the Sunshine Coast, and the coffee culture is so strong.”

Karen believes the coffee culture has really thrived in the last five years . “More coffee roasters have established themselves, for instance Pioneer has been here as long as us, and Tim Adams is one of Australia’s top baristas, and one of his team, Tilly Sproule, is the current Queensland Champion.”

Karen explains it has reached a critical mass – the trail will feature 70 cafes, “These are the best around, they are all different  and supplied by local roasters.”

From north to south, these cafes are at the top of their game, as the roasters pride themselves not only on outstanding coffee, but exceptional training.

They want more cafes to join them, and to ensure more youths are trained as hospitality professionals.

But when asked when the coffee trail would be released, Karen said, “Because we are working with Visit Sunshine Coast, TAFE, the Sunshine Coast University and the Food and Agricultural Network, what we do has significant benefit – so we are not rushing it!”

They plan to deliver competitions, workshops, guild endorsed training as well as the trail.

Building on the success of the Sunshine Coast’s Food Trail, the Coffee Trail will show tourists and locals alike, where they can go to enjoy a high quality coffee made from locally roasted beans.  A map, outlining the trail has been designed and will be promoted through the Visit Sunshine Coast website.

Karen approached TAFE QLD East Coast and invited the students enrolled in the Diploma of Business to work with the Guild as a client.

Karin Artis, lead vocational teacher, embraced the idea that has seen students involved with all aspects of developing the Coffee Trail Map, building data bases, producing invoices, mail merges and marketing materials.

This collaboration between business and the TAFE is giving students a real-life business scenario to engage with. The benefits to the students of working in a live commercial environment are enormous.

How are the students responding to this project?

“They love it!”, Karen Artis enthuses. “It’s a real, community-based initiative that’s both topical and interesting.”

“This project has been invaluable for the students, as we have a real client to answer to, with real problems that need to be solved and some specific requirements to fulfil.

It is really satisfying for the students to know that what they are learning in class, directly matches a work outcome.  The students will be able to see the results of their work in the community, for example, with the launch of the coffee trail,” she says.

There have been a few challenges along the way with students required to meet deadlines and key performance indicators, while producing a consistently high quality work for their client.

“Although they like the idea that this project is linked to the community, they have needed to keep in mind that we are working for a client’s specific needs and not just a case study-based assessment task,” Ms Artis says.

And the next step for the guild, is a focus on Coffee United.

“It is a café in Maroochydore set up by United Synergies who work with disadvantaged youth.”

Karen Barnett said this might be due to addictions, homelessness, poor literacy, mental health issues or caring for a parent. “In 2013, they asked us for a bag of coffee for the new café and since that time we have been providing coffee, mentoring and training. They now have another café at Cooroy Library.”

“It is still at pilot project stage. Now the Roasters Guild want to scale the project and provide more support.”

“It is what drives all of us – there are things we all believe in and we are committed to the region.”

Look out for the Coffee Trail Map – it will be launched by the Guild and Visit Sunshine Coast this year.

HT thanks Corin Kelly for contributing to this story.