When Bob James was a boy, a cup of coffee invariably meant the instant kind.
He could never have imagined how far Australia’s coffee culture would come, or that he would one day be making a living out of lattes.
Born and raised on a Myocum dairy farm, Bob came to coffee growing after a 16-year career driving trucks.
Keen to get back to farming, and encouraged by the fact that there are no known coffee pests or diseases in Australia, he planted 4000 trees on his Myocum property in the 1990s.
The trees flourished in the subtropical climate, and before long, Bob and wife Marlene had joined the newly established Byron Farmers Market, first selling just their beans and then later, coffee by the cup.
Myocum Coffee has since become a firm favourite at the Byron, Mullumbimby and New Brighton Farmers Markets, with market goers lining up week after week to enjoy Bob and Marlene’s locally grown coffee.
Bob says he’s always enjoyed the social atmosphere of the markets and the interaction he has with his customers.
“People ask how we do things, and I’ve got a little book of photos that shows from the trees right through to the processing we do.”
On the farm the coffee cherries are harvested, pulped, fermented, sun dried, then bagged and aged for 4-6 months: “They’re a bit like a wine,'” Bob explains, “they mature and develop their flavour better if they’ve been sitting for a while.”
The final step is roasting, which gives Bob’s coffee its distinctive full flavour. Bob has his coffee roasted fresh 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.
• Find Myocum Coffee at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday.
• Words and photos by Kate O’Neill