Yarra Coffee café and beanery in Lilydale, at the start of the Yarra Valley, has been serving and selling the finest organic and FairTrade beans for over a decade, but it all started with a few doubts.
The family-run operation opened in 2003 is an extension of its wholesale roasting business which had already been in operation for several years. All wholesale and retail operations are headed by David and Helen Moon and ably assisted by children, Adam, Ben and Jacquie, who have grown up bathed in the rich aromas of roasting coffee and witnessed first-hand the growth of the local industry.
Opening the café was something of a shot in the dark. The family had been roasting the beans and providing them wholesale across Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula for years, but opening to the public was a gamble and they weren’t sure how well it would go in such an isolated location near the Dandenongs. There wasn’t even a kitchen. How could they tempt customers to drive out for fresh coffee, beans and cakes?
A decade on and the café serves a loyal customer base of locals. David and Helen estimate that about 80 percent of their customers come in every day or every second day. Together with the family ‘feel’ of the business itself, this creates a sense of community and intimacy within the café, and the staff knows exactly how each of the customers like their coffee.
The numerous coffees on offer include the signature blend, Moka Premium, which is a mid-strength, creamy coffee with a slight undertone of aniseed. David has roasted the blend since the early days of the business, and it features beans from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Colombia.
Brewing methods in the café include espresso and cold brew, which are rotated regularly with a different single origin coffee. This is thanks to the work done at their nearby roastery, which works with Colombian, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Peruvian, and Papua New Guinean organic single origins, as well as a selection of micro-lots and non-organic single origins.
As head barista, Will Heywood plays an integral role in the daily operations of both the café and the beanery, and this doesn’t go unnoticed. “A barista like Will is rare to come across,” said David. “He is a real asset. As well as pleasing the customers, he visits our wholesale customers to train the staff in coffee making and to develop their skills.”
The beanery replicates what’s on offer in the café, with fresh roasted single origins, organic coffees and café blends. There is also a growing range of coffee equipment and accessories available. Because the café and retail side of the business has grown so popular, the wholesale business was relocated to a nearby warehouse in 2010.
The family feels blessed to have been part of the growth of the area, as they have witnessed other businesses succeed around Yarra Valley. “We feel quite lucky to have been part of this process,” said David, who has been involved in the Yarra Valley Regional Food Group for over 10 years.