A Rollercoaster Ride to Remember

Charting the extreme ups and downs of commercial coffee roasting

By TAMARA REEVES

A love affair that started with tea…

I’m Tamara Reeves, Roaster and Head Coffee Lover at Love Beans.

I have to tell you—starting up Love Beans has been a roller coaster of a ride. There have been extreme ups and extreme downs, but I’ve truly loved every minute of it.

Of all things, my journey started with tea. My dad was an instant coffee drinker and, as a teenager, my job was to make him a coffee when he came home from work. I have to say it wasn’t great coffee—that’s why I just drank tea.

As tea evolved with flavours, so did my love of it. My world opened up to floral and fruit-flavoured tea, detox tea, digestive tea… the options were endless. Each time I tried something new it was a journey of wonder.

While I enjoyed tea, my partner was a fierce coffee drinker—up to 12 cups a day, if you can believe it! A few years ago I bought a ticket for the two of us to attend a beginner’s coffee roasting course for his birthday. It was a hit, and he enjoyed every minute of it.

And for me? It was a life-changer.

 

A complete flavour wheel and a whole latte love…

The realisation hit me stronger than a double shot ever could. This was what I needed to do for a living.

Coffee had a complete flavour wheel that I hadn’t been aware of. As a commercial roaster, this means that I can change the flavour, sweetness, acidity and body of a green coffee bean by just changing the roasting profile (the roasting profile is the way I choose to roast a bean, such as temperature and time).

 

Was contemplating a change of career at 50 years of age to something completely different insane? Was I making a reactive decision? I thought it through over and over again. But no matter how I tried, I couldn’t shake the desire.

I’d always experimented with cooking and baking—my friends can attest to that. But you know that moment when you feel something is completely right? That moment when your gut tells you to go for it, you’re happy and excited and scared all at the same time, you have absolutely no concept of the magnitude of what you’re about to get into but are totally looking forward to the challenge?

That was me. And honestly, I couldn’t have made a better decision.

 

Celebrating what is – not what could have bean

So it began. I became immersed in coffee while still doing my ‘day job’. I attended roasting courses. I undertook commercial coffee workshops. I read online. I ordered a gazillion books. I rang coffee roasters and asked questions. I even asked to visit their roasting factories!

I was lucky enough to work with a commercial roaster in Queensland for a week. This was an incredibly eye-opening experience, and one that I cherish. At the end of the week I’d not only roasted over three tonne of green coffee, lifting it in 25kg batches into the machine, but also cleaned the roasters, packaged the coffee for delivery… you name it, I did it! I was sore and tired, had blisters, smelled like coffee and looked so very, very dirty… but I was in LOVE. Coffee was for me!

Jump on—this roller coaster ride is on the way up!

And so Love Beans began. And with it, the roller coaster ride that is not only new business, but also everything that comes with it – the emotional, the physical, the psychological, and more. I’ve had a huge vertical learning curve, but the important part is that I’m still smiling and loving coffee.

And that as a business, we’re genuinely enjoying the experience on the way up.