Nashua coffee growers Michelle and Andy Clarke, of Bangalow Coffee, have been selling their fresh coffee at the Byron and New Brighton Farmers Markets for more than a decade, and have recently joined the Mullumbimby Farmers Market. Their coffee is handpicked when the coffee cherries are at their ripest, sun dried and roasted weekly to give it the best flavour.
How did you and Andy come to be coffee growers?
We moved to the Northern Rivers 21 years ago.We always intended to buy land and grow something and discovered coffee was a burgeoning industry at the time. It appealed to us as it was and still is grown without the use of pesticides and fungicides due to the fact that insects that attack coffee in other parts of the world were not in Australia. Plant bio-security is an issue that growers have to be aware of for the future of coffee in Australia.
Tell us a bit about your farm?
Our farm is considered small for a coffee plantation. We have 7000 trees over three hectares.
Can you explain the process of getting your coffee from bean to cup?
It is mostly handpicked over three to four months and is processed on the farm and then sun dried. This is stored in hessian bags for a minimum of three months before it is ready for roasting.
What do you think makes good coffee?
The gradual ripening of the coffee allows the red cherry to be picked at its ripest stage, which creates a sweet and rich coffee flavour. The coffee is roasted with a nearby roastery and then packaged back on the farm. We roast weekly for the markets.
What’s the best thing about being part of the farmers markets?We have been involved with the markets in the Byron Shire since 2002 and still enjoy bringing the local coffee direct to customers. The best thing about the markets is introducing locals and visitors alike to the fact that great coffee is grown in the region.
Anything else we should know?
This year we are having experiencing a smaller harvest but hope to be back to our usual production next year. We also have lychee trees and looks like a decent crop coming on for next February.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
I cannot imagine what else we would be doing. We’re still not ready to think of anything else.