Author: Karli Florisson
| Photographer: Lucy Vincent
Published: September 02, 2021
While many people go to great lengths for a good cuppa, Glen Rollond has raised the bar in the pursuit of good coffee. After tinkering around with roasting his own coffee at home, Glen completed a course with professional Melbourne-based coffee roaster, Anne Cooper. Then, in 2017, he took the plunge and established his own coffee roasting business, Upward Spiral Roasting. As a small batch coffee roaster, Glen began by selling his coffee to local coffee connoisseurs at Bob and Jim’s. In 2019, Glen and wife Mitsuko decided to open their own coffee shop, Cloud Eleven. Here, the couple have been able to share their love of great coffee with the town.
If you walk past Cloud Eleven on a Monday, you’re likely to notice the smell of freshly roasted coffee. Monday is roasting day for Upward Spiral, onsite at Cloud Eleven. Visitors to the cafe can even watch through the window as Glen adjusts the controls in order to get the perfect roast for the particular coffee that he is using at any given time. While it might look like an art form, a great deal of science goes into achieving the perfect coffee. Glen notes there is always plenty to fine tune, and you can always make improvements. “You never get to the point where you know you’ve roasted a coffee perfectly,” he says. Small adjustments to the temperature of the roaster, as well as the length of time that the coffee is roasting, all contribute to getting the most flavour out of each batch. The aim for Glen is repeatable results, which contributes to Cloud Eleven’s reputation for consistently good coffee.
Another challenge for the business has been sourcing the coffee beans that Upward Spiral uses. There are numerous issues that impact coffee supply. Weather conditions might contribute to crops in certain areas not being up to standard, or unrest in a country could cause supply issues, as has recently happened in Colombia. Glen explains the pandemic has also caused issues with global shipping, which has impacted importers in many different ways. COVID outbreaks in different parts of the world have also caused a lack of seasonal workers who pick coffee crops, as countries have closed their borders across South America. Despite the challenges, Glen enjoys the process of sourcing coffee from places across the world. Upward Spiral uses coffee from a variety of countries, including Brazil, Ethiopia, Colombia and Guatemala.
As well as sourcing consistently great coffee, Glen has made it a priority to source coffee that is ethical and provides a good wage for the growers. He explains there are two main markets for coffee. The first is the general commodity market, which is governed by the global coffee price, and can lead to farmers being paid below cost. The emphasis in this market is also quantity over quality. The second market is the specialty or direct trade market. In this model farmers are paid a higher price and in turn, given assistance to produce higher quality coffee. There is usually an ongoing relationship between farmer and buyer so that the farmer has the security of knowing their coffee will be sold and for how much, in advance. This can help to lift the farmers out of poverty and provide them with financial independence. “We, like many others in the specialty industry, absorb this cost and charge pretty much the same for the final product as many who buy the significantly cheaper commodity coffees,” Glen says.
Since opening Cloud Eleven, Glen and Mitsuko have been very busy. “I’ve been surprised and grateful at just how busy things have turned out to be in the shop,” Glen says. Cloud Eleven, which will celebrate its second birthday next month, might be tucked away, but that hasn’t deterred customers. Along with great coffee, Cloud Eleven sells a range of gourmet toasted sandwiches and other snacks, as well as a range of teas, all served in Mitsuko’s handmade ceramics. As well as using their beans in the cafe, Upward Spiral coffee is also available to purchase, and has a very solid customer base. They also supply coffee to Aurelia’s Ice Creamery and Café, Yirri Grove, and the Eucla Motel. Despite the hard work involved with coffee roasting, Glen enjoys it, particularly the customer service aspect of the business. While normally preferring to stay behind the scenes, he says that he has enjoyed getting to know some of the really great people in town – which is fortunate for Esperance coffee fans, as we look forward to enjoying Upward Spiral coffee for many years to come.
Glen’s top tips for making a great coffee:
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