My love for coffee is so intense; at times I do question whether I was one of Kaldi’s goats in a previous life. However, the thing I love about coffee is more than just what is in my cup. It’s the people I connect with, and the rich relationships I form with other self-confessed coffee devotees. Coffee aside, we humans rely on communication and relationships to survive. It’s part of our makeup. Coffee allows us to cultivate such relationships, just as farmers nurture their crops.
Meeting Ryan Battye from Two Fish Coffee in Adelaide was one of the most humbling experiences of my trip to South Australia and confirmed that coffee is founded in relationships. For those who may not know Ryan, he’s actually a Dentist who started ‘hobby roasting’ on a Hot-top around 8 years ago. He originally sent Grant from FermentAsian (an Asian inspired Restaurant in the Barossa Valley) some beans to get his opinion, and to say “thank you” after they bonded over a mutual love of wine. Once Grant tried Two Fish coffee, he was suitably impressed, and has used them ever since. During this time, Ryan’s wife Rachel had their second child, and due to complications at birth, they were told their son had a 30% chance of surviving. Fortunately, he did survive, but has been left with physical impairments, and is blind. This harrowing experience left Ryan with a desire to follow his dreams and not to have regrets. With the endorsement of folk like Grant, who has a well-trained palate, he harnessed his passion for roasting, and the rest is history.
I myself know from experience, hardship does give a greater sense of appreciation for life, and how precious each day is. So with the support of his beautiful wife, Ryan decided to set up a roastery and bought himself a Has Garanti. Almost two years on, and he hasn’t looked back. All his beans are sustainably and ethically produced. Because of a strong belief that growers should be paid fairly and empowered to improve their quality of life, it’s evident that Ryan strongly believes people should not be divided by race, creed, or money; coffee provides the perfect opportunity to address such injustices. This doesn’t stop with coffee – Ryan and his family are involved in several projects in Myanmar and Cambodia, helping orphanages and victims of war torn areas. In true Tess Presso form, I questioned the meaning behind the name “Two Fish”. I always like to get the story behind a roaster. I actually assumed the name may have been inspired by the “5 loaves and 2 fish” miracle, considering the miraculous survival of Ryan and Rachel’s son…. Alas, it was simply a name that popped into Ryan’s head while out walking in the Adelaide Hills one morning. To say I was inspired by this man is an understatement. His dedication to coffee is admirable, and being welcomed into his roastery to sample his offerings was an honour. On the table were beans sourced via Melbourne Coffee Merchant, including the Rwandan Mbilima, Rwandan Sumbili, and Guatemalan Santa Clara to name but a few. Each has its unique profile. The Rwandan Mbilima was a real standout, with its orange acidity, and rich dried fruit notes. We also ran the 23° South Blend, and 23° North Blend through the La Marzocco GS3, These blends are aptly named in honour of the Bean Belt where the world’s coffee grows, lying between 23° north (Tropics of Cancer) and 23° south (Tropics of Capricorn) of the equator. It’s encouraging to see Adelaide roasters driving forward in leaps and bounds, establishing their own take on the coffee culture in their great city. My hope is that local cafes support such roasters, and take the time to embrace such trailblazers. Each roaster serves to translate the story of the producer – and the origin where the beans are sourced, which spans a multitude of cultures. If nothing else, coffee breaks down barriers, and permits that one thing we all crave….’connection’. Whether it is the farmer and roaster, the roaster and café owner, or the barista and consumer…. We are all connected, and are all much better for that little red cherry, which ultimately becomes a tasty liquid in our cups. Thank you Ryan for being a part of my journey, and teaching me a valuable lesson about never taking life for granted – and how I should be a socially conscious member of society at every given opportunity.