Zac Suito certainly has a lot of courage, drive and determination, and Katoomba locals are grateful. Zac, having just left school (and with an after school job in a coffee shop), decided he’d like to run his own cafe.
So, in 2006, he opened Pink Papaya in Springwood. It’s now called Cassiopeia, the same as his Katoomba store, which he opened a few years later at the tender age of 25. But it’s not ‘just’ a cafe, it’s a roastery too, where Zac and Managers, Meg and Lachlan, source and roast specialty coffees from around the world, and serve them up to their very dedicated regulars.
Coffee is a lifelong learning experience for Zac; it wasn’t until he opened his first cafe that he really fell in love with coffee and wanted to learn as much as he could, from sourcing and roasting to cupping, processing and harvesting – the whole lot. Zac buys his coffee seasonally, and only in the amounts they need, to ensure the green coffees stay fresh. He is very dedicated to pricing transparency and pays well above the Fair Trade price for his coffee.
Cassiopeia Coffee, the Katoomba branch, is set back from the main street, in what some would consider an out-of-the-way location that misses a lot of tourist foot traffic. But it hasn’t mattered; anyone who loves a good coffee knows where to find Cassiopeia, and can enjoy their cup without the hustle and bustle of the main street, and with gorgeous natural light, particularly on winter mornings.
Stu Smith is Cassiopeia Coffee’s head roaster and works with green beans sourced through Silo Coffee. Cassiopeia Coffee also has a direct relationship with Elida Estate in Panama, where Zac has spent time with the owner and where he discovered an exciting new coffee crop. He’s been serving it for the past three years and truly loves it; his customers do too.
Stu roasts most of the coffee to a light roast, in order to properly showcase all the intricacies of the bean as well as the time and effort the producers have put in. The house blend is made up of coffees from Colombia, Costa Rica and Ethiopia; you’ll also see other beans from Central America and Kenya here, as well as some delicious Burundi and Rwanda flavours coming in 2015.
Zac simply loves showcasing the single origins they buy in small lots from all over the world; they’re generally juicy, sweet and floral. The opportunity to show someone how different ‘real’ coffee can be for the first time is enough to keep Zac going for a whole career! The different flavours unique to each origin, the way the flavours are enhanced when roasted well – no wonder this young man couldn’t wait to open his cafes! And The Blue Mountains are all the better for it…