03/05/2005 - 22:00

More than Just Espresso

03/05/2005 - 22:00


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Charles and Denise Boog, owners and proprietors of Just Espresso in Preston Street, South Perth, are as passionate about their coffee as they are about the fair trade practices they use.

More than Just Espresso

Charles and Denise Boog, owners and proprietors of Just Espresso in Preston Street, South Perth, are as passionate about their coffee as they are about the fair trade practices they use.

As one of only a handful of Australian businesses to adopt fair trade principles, they are fighting to educate Perth coffee drinkers on the art of excellent and equitable coffee.

According to the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand website, fair trade is: “an alternative approach to conventional international trade. It is a trading partnership which aims at sustainable development for excluded and disadvantaged producers. It seeks to do this by providing better trading conditions, by awareness raising and by campaigning.”

The Boogs say that, in the current coffee crisis, fair trade movements must be supported in an effort to reconnect consumers with farmers.

“There is a degree of ignorance that enables people to exploit it,” Mr Boog says of fair trade practices.

“There are now over 30 ‘fair trade’ organisations, but these don’t require accreditation. There is no authorisation, anyone can set one up”.

The problem, according to Mr Boog, is that labelling products as ‘fair trade’ is meaningless without information on the percentage it corresponds to.

 “As a concept, it’s too loose,” he says. “Just because they buy a portion of coffee from fair trade doesn’t mean anything”.

Mr Boog says the multinational operations that dominate the commodity coffee market pay ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ prices, which often does not even cover what it costs to produce a farmer’s crop.

Oxfam, for example stipulates $1.26 per kilo as the minimum price, bar minor fluctuations. This is 70¢ above the market-dictated price of commodity coffee.

It has been estimated that, from tree to cup, coffee beans can change hands up to 150 times. The difference created by the Boogs is that they have a direct link between farmer and purchaser, without brokers in the middle.

By committing to a certain price with farmers, the Boogs are able to source the best specialist coffee for their seven-bean blend. Mr Boog believes that fair trade practices are just the start in terms of Just Espresso’s puritanical approach to coffee.

Creating what they believe to be the ‘anthesis’ of the normal coffee house, the Boogs have created a quality driven, specialist coffee experience.

Describing the local coffee scene as a “slow evolutionary process”, Mr Boog says that only now are people beginning to emerge from the grip of instant coffee.

“The anomalies that apply to Australia come from fact that idea of drinking coffee outside the home developed without the understanding of the technical side to support it,” he says.

Mr Boog believes that, with increased competition between heavily marketed coffee chains, business for the price-driven outlets will get more difficult.

 “People driven by quality will survive in the long term,” he says of a coffee battle he hopes will eventually leach down into an education process for consumers.

Just Espresso prides itself on taking the concept of appellation to coffee. They do not sell decaf coffee or soymilk because of what Mr Boog claims are detrimental effects on the coffee and unproven health side effects.

More to the point, however, Mr Boog believes his operation is currently the only place in Australia where the industry recognised standard of one part coffee to four parts milk ratio is taken seriously.

He hopes that as Perth coffee drinkers become more conscious of where their coffee is sourced, they will be equally concerned about how it is prepared. In both ways Mr Boog says Perth has unnecessarily low standards.

“People think that we are backward but we are actually focused on moving our coffee forward,” he says.


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