Mackellar Range Coffee

Growing Coffee in NSW

In the beginning


Australian Coffee has been grown since 1832 when a small coffee planting was established at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane. On the North Coast of New South Wales, coffee began to be grown successfully for commercial use in the late 19th century. Those first coffees were well received in Europe and won medals in London in the late 1800’s. However, by the early 1900’s, Australia’s remoteness from Europe and the resultant delays in transport, rising labour costs and the absence of “coffee slaves” for picking, led the industry to fall into decline and unable to compete on price with Brazil, Africa, Central America and Indonesia, countries which still dominate the world coffee trade.

Preferred for the quality roast bean and ground coffee market


As coffee is essentially a tropical rainforest plant it requires, amongst other things, frost-free conditions and high rainfall to thrive. This largely limits the areas suitable for coffee production in Australia to pockets on the tropical and sub-tropical eastern seaboard. Australia is fortunate to be largely free of the pests and coffee diseases which afflict many other countries. This has allowed the local industry to develop its “clean green” image and as Northern New South Wales has a notably cooler subtropical climate, it produces slower ripening, naturally sweet beans which are naturally lower in caffeine.

In Northern New South Wales, the coffee plant flowers in late spring/early summer


Covering the branches with small white flowers that resemble jasmine in both appearance and scent. The coffee cherry begins to ripen to a deep red colour between July to October. There are several harvests during this period with only the red cherry being kept after the green and over ripe/black cherry have been separated out. Each cherry contains two coffee beans which are obtained by pulping the cherry in a processing machine. The mucilage or “slimey” covering on the bean is then removed either by fermentation in large vats or mechanically under pressure in the processor.

A kinder natural process


The coffee is then laid out to dry in the sun on beds or placed in a large mechanical dryer. Sun drying of the processed coffee parchment is the original and the preferred method of drying as the UV Rays eliminate any residual e-coli and other bacteria. This system is also kinder to the bean as it is a natural process and not artificially force-dried. Once dry, the beans are stored in bags until they are required for roasting or export. They are then hulled to remove the paper like parchment they are encased in and are graded for size and quality. The end product is called green bean and this is how coffee is traded around the world.