Our family established Kahawa Estate Coffee plantation in 2004. To reflect our African heritage, we chose the name Kahawa, meaning coffee, from the Swahili language of eastern Africa.
Located on the Alstonville Plateau in the Byron Bay hinterland, we purchased the former avocado plantation in 2003 and then in 2004 we planted 8000 seedlings using the K7 variety of Coffea arabica that originated in Kenya. Our first harvest was in 2007.
In December 2008, we expanded with a second planting of 3000 trees, and in 2009 we began roasting our own beans. We now have our own roastery on site. Our products can be found in selected retail outlets and our online store, as well as at festivals and local food markets.
Our farm is the base for everything we do at Kahawa Estate. We tend the trees year-round, monitor the maturing cherries, we harvest then process the crop and store the harvested beans in our climate-controlled facilities before roasting.
Surrounded by sub-tropical rainforest in the Byron Bay hinterland of northern New South Wales, we chose the location for its ideal environment for growing Coffea arabica.
We follow sustainable farming principles and aim to maximise organic matter and minimise artificial fertilisers. The red volcanic soils are fertile and well-drained, and being in the sub-tropics we have a reliable abundance of rain.
In sub-tropical Australia, we are also fortunate to be free of the pests and fungal diseases that affect coffee crops in many tropical regions of the world. As a result, our single-origin coffee is pesticide-free.
The main attraction of the northern NSW coast for us was the reliable rainfall. Another factor in our decision was that coffee crops in our area require no pesticides to flourish.
We are committed to applying environmental and sustainable farming practices. Along with being responsible for the harvesting and processing of the coffee crop I manage the farm’s day to day activities of fertilising and plantation maintenance. I am an active member of the Australian Subtropical Coffee Association and have been involved in the production of a manual for Australian Coffee Growers and the development and rollout of a Biosecurity Plan for the Australian coffee industry.
Wendy and I also have a keen involvement in the local Landcare group. We have an active program at Kahawa Estate to control weeds as part of the regeneration of remnant Big Scrub rainforest on our property.
The coffee roasting process appeals to my background in science, so I have gladly taken on the role of Kahawa Roastmaster. You can also see my barista skills in action at festivals and markets across the north coast.
The search for something new began back in 2003 when we lived in Canberra. Both Jos and I were tired of the 9-5 routine and the long cold winters. The warmer climes of the NSW north coast combined with our love of horticulture led to our research into potential crops to grow. Coffee was the winner!
Jos may have the title of Roastmaster but I am responsible for quality control. I am involved in tasting the roasts and fine-tuning them to ensure consistency across the batches. I also work on the plantation in handpicking the early and late crops, processing the harvest and packaging the roasted beans.
Both our son and daughter have been involved in growing the business from the very beginning – planting, packaging, marketing and developing our online presence. Slowly the grandchildren are starting to help out too as they get older.
A variety of other people have worked with us in a supportive role at each stage of the coffee lifecycle. Various experts have helped us to improve our knowledge on the day to day running of the plantation. Our team actively collaborates with scientists to research ways to improve crop and sustainable management outcomes.