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Meet the Zentveld’s: Australia’s Locally-Grown Coffee Pioneers

You’ve heard of Australian coffee roasters and award-winning local baristas. But what about all-Aussie coffee growers?

The locally grown coffee movement is exploding in Australia. And from a verdant Byron Hinterland property, the ambitious Zentveld family are leading the charge.

High Demand for a Quality Cuppa

Australia’s love affair with coffee has been brewing since the 50s. Italian and Greek migrants introduced us to our addiction upon opening a string of inner-city cafes.

We’ve shunned the likes of Starbucks for family-run venues roasting premium beans. Our obsession with good quality coffee manifests itself in CBDs and country towns nationwide. 95% of Australian cafes are independently owned.

Some 19 million of us (75% of the population) slurp the caffeine-infused good stuff daily. We consume an average of 1.9kg of coffee per person per year.

coffee farms Australia

Australian Grown Coffee

Locally grown coffee isn’t new to Australia. Early records indicate the first beans grew in Brisbane’s Kangaroo Point in 1832. The Northern Rivers region had a booming coffee industry from the 1890s until the 1920s. Early growers met demand from coffee-loving southern European migrants in our major cities.

However, globalisation and technological advances saw most production move offshore. The Australian industry lay dormant as local growers couldn’t compete with low-cost providers. Developing world growers in Central and South America, Africa, and South East Asia continue to outprice our farmers.

But locally-grown coffee is making a comeback. In recent years, consumers have been demanding high-quality beans from sustainable farmers. While only 1% of coffee consumed in Australia is locally grown, our local providers struggle to keep up with increasing demand.

Australian single-origin coffee farms

The Zentveld’s Byron Hinterland Farm

According to Rebecca Zentveld, the head roaster at Zentveld’s Coffee, just 50 or so growers produce beans in Australia. Almost all operate in the Northern NSW and Far North Queensland regions.

In 1993, Rebecca and John Zentveld packed up their life in Melbourne for a tree change. The duo moved to John’s Newrybar family farm to kick-start an all-Aussie coffee-growing business.

The two knew they had to brew an exceptional cup in an industry flooded with low-cost imports. Rebecca credits the region’s idyllic climate—plus plenty of hard work and determination—for their success.

Despite residing farther south than international competitors, the fertile Northern Rivers region offers favourable coffee-farming conditions. High rainfall, a relatively cool climate, and zero frosts let the Zentveld’s produce the perfect bean on their Byron Hinterland farm. 

Australian coffee producers

Zentveld’s: Sustainably Grown and Ethically Sourced

The international coffee industry has copped its fair share of criticism. Issues range from environmentally destructive farming practices to exploitative contractual agreements. While Fairtrade certifications can help alleviate concerns, they don’t provide any guarantees.

Australian coffee growers, however, are bound by strict agricultural management principles. Renewable energy, water conservation, erosion management, minimum wages, and chemical-free pest control put us a step ahead.

As Rebecca told the SBS, “We have no pests, no diseases here. Our sub-tropical climate and regular rainfall are perfect for growing good coffee in a way that’s good for the environment, too.”

See the Zentveld’s website to learn about their sustainable approach and buy locally-grown beans.

Zentveld's coffee farm

Explore the Northern Rivers with Kiff & Culture

For more Northern Rivers gastronomic adventures, why not join us on one of our Tweed & Byron foodie tours?

We visit the region’s top farm-to-table providers to devour gourmet goodies and sip delicious drinks.

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