Changing the game – The Coffee Commune opens in Bowen Hills
Even after a bumpy year, the coffee industry is thriving. These days the standard of quality is incredibly high, meaning new entrants have to be on the ball in order to be successful. This can be a tough task for small cafes and roasting businesses, which often don’t have easy access to professional resources, but The Coffee Commune is setting out to change this. Operating with the goal of helping the little guys, this newly open coffee hub is providing everything from networking opportunities with suppliers and barista-training sessions to hands-on time with roasting apparatus and mentoring programs. The Coffee Commune officially opened this week – read on to have a look inside this caffeine-centric wonderland …
Phillip Di Bella knows what it takes to build a successful coffee business. After 15 years growing Di Bella Coffee from a small-scale upstart enterprise into Australia’s second largest coffee roaster, Phillip had reached a crossroads. After exiting his role as managing director in 2017, Phillip figured his next step should involve some level of giving back to the industry. He’s doing this via Bowen Hills-based The Coffee Commune – a community-focused hub where cafe and hospitality professionals, coffee enthusiasts, roasters, and suppliers can gather to share knowledge, resources and appreciation for all things caffeine. The seed for the idea was planted more than a decade ago when Phillip toured The FOODBOWL, an open-access facility in Auckland where grassroots food-based businesses could utilise facilities and draw on the expertise of others to get a leg up in the industry. Enamoured with the idea of providing a similar level of support to coffee-centric endeavours, Phillip decided to transform Di Bella’s old roasting warehouse (more recently Retail Food Group’s headquarters) on Abbotsford Road into an incubator that lowers barriers to entry, helps fast-track success, accelerate the potential of small-scale operators and raise the standard of excellence across the board. A sizeable endeavour, The Coffee Commune’s 2000-sqm premises has been completely transformed with the help of Interior Fitouts to house a host of brand-new equipment and a full-service cafe, with amenities geared to creating a free-flowing ecosystem that charts coffee’s journey from plantation to consumer.
The Coffee Commune operates on a model centred around six kinds of membership – supplier, roaster, cafe owner, barista, coffee enthusiast and an in-residence tier. Each level offers benefits that cater to the specific needs of members with relevant resources and tools. For example, a roaster can create their own blend with access to TCC’s green bean arm International Coffee Traders, drawing from the site’s array of 2000-kg bean silos before roasting their required batch in TCC’s own three-kilo, five-kilo, two 20-kilo and 240-kilo roasting machines. Cafe owners can sign up and connect with industrial and employee relations specialists, gain access to a learning academy and obtain bulk-buying power and industry discounts through TCC’s network of suppliers. A barista can level up their skills with guided workshops in on-site training rooms (all boasting state-of-the-art machines) or score networking opportunities with leading coffee professionals at various industry events. If you’re simply a coffee enthusiast, you can learn how to roast at home (after creating your own blend of beans), get access to professional-grade machines and even attend a select number of barista classes to brush up on your pouring skills. This rundown is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what The Coffee Commune can offer – businesses can even base themselves at the building’s co-working space if they want to be close to the action.
Last (but certainly not least) is The Coffee Commune’s on-site cafe, where coffee lovers can sip from a curated range of private-retail roasts while also enjoying hearty and wholesome fare. The open kitchen crafts a selection of eight dishes, including vanilla bean and apple-soaked overnight oats with coconut yogurt, French toast with coffee salted-caramel gelato (created by Delizia Gelato using TCC’s roasts) and beef-mince ragout with poached egg and shaved parmesan on sourdough. The coffee menu is a caffeine-lover’s dream, with an assortment of roasts (including a few rotating options from member roasters) offering different flavour profiles and strength levels. Take-home packs are available if a certain batch becomes an obsession.
The Coffee Commune is now open to the public. For operating hours and contact details, head to the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.