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Spilling the Beans (With Alvaro Sanchez, Toby’s Estate)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, 20 February 2014

Can you tell us a little bit about Toby’s Estate and its beginnings?

We are purveyors and roasters of great specialty coffee in Australia and now in Singapore. We specialise in the wholesale supply of freshly roasted specialty coffee - as well as tea and chocolate. Toby Smith, founder of Toby’s Estate, began in 1998 roasting coffee from his mum’s garage in Sydney. Since then, the business has grown rapidly, thanks to an emphasis on freshness, sustainability and barista training.

How is Australian coffee perceived in the Singapore market?

Australian coffee brands are regarded highly in Singapore and throughout Asia. Many Singaporeans have studied in and/or travelled to Australia and are making efforts to recreate our rich and varied coffee culture in Singapore.

Australia, being a young country, is free of the cultural restrictions of other coffee-centric countries; hence, we are fast innovators and readily adapt and embrace new roast and brewing techniques, as long as the taste is a positive experience.

What are the main challenges for Singapore’s coffee market?

The main issues would be awareness of a fresher, higher quality product. The main coffee market is still dominated by the local brew and awareness of multinational chains. Having said that, more and more people are ‘graduating’ to fresh specialty Arabicas coffees. This is very encouraging.

At Toby’s Estate in Singapore, we have invested in a state-of-the-art roaster to maintain the same high standard of freshness and quality as we achieve in Australia. We avoid coffee that is more than a month old and all our wholesale accounts receive coffee that is no more than a week since roasted.

How do you market your coffee?

Our main marketing tool is our café on Rodyk Street (upstream from Robertson Quay, on the Singapore River), where people and future wholesale clients come for the ‘Toby’s experience’. Through it we share our knowledge and brews. We also conduct training every Wednesday to expose people to new coffee bean origins and flavours.

Tags:  Alvaro Sanchez  Spilling the Beans  The Singapore Story  Toby’s Estate 

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