Marte, left. Savannah, right
Located beside the lush greenery in Bibra Lake resides the Karvan coffee roastery. Some may be drawn to the venue from the hypnotising coffee aroma that travels through the air, others type “Leaf Bean Machine” into Google Maps and follow the signs. Regardless of how one finds the Perth coffee roastery, once you’ve arrived, you’re sure glad you did.
Karvan has been up and roasting for 10 years now! And, the experience shows. The Perth roastery has rapidly grown, becoming a well-known name amongst coffee drinkers. The team attributes this success to their dedication, sheer passion and incredible thirst for knowledge (and coffee).
Karvan coffee offers a selective and superb range of speciality coffee beans. There’s 4 main Blends as well as Single Origins that change depending on the season.
We sit down with the two roasters of Karvan, Savannah and Marte to unpack what exactly makes their beans just so darn good.
So, what makes Karvan coffee so good?
“It takes a whole team of people. We all live and breathe coffee and are always thinking about how to make the beans even better!” (Savannah).
“There’s a lot of steps in the roasting process. From the green bean selection, to the roasting and to the cupping. Every step of the way we’re ensuring high quality and a great product” (Marte).
There’s 4 Karvan Blends, what’s the difference?
“To put it simply, it’s the roast level, the bean combination and the flavour” (Marte).
“Each blend caters towards different taste preferences. We don’t like to leave anyone out so we’ve designed these four main blends to appeal to everyone” (Savannah).
Seasonal Blend 1?
“Blend 1 is our creative outlet to go wild. It’s always changing and blended with very high-quality seasonal beans. We like to push the boundaries by blending with experimental processes. For example, our current Blend 1 includes a white wine fermentation offering a unique flavour profile bursting with fruit” (Marte).
“We pick out our favourite coffee beans of the season as well as consider how the beans will fit together in the blend. The blend always has a distinct and delicious character to it. You can find these ones at Perth’s North Street Store and it’s relatives (Little Loaf and Big Loaf) or, you can purchase them for home via our website” (Savannah).
Karvan Blend 2?
“We have found the flavours our coffee community love the most and have crafted blends to cater towards their taste. Blend 2 is one example of this, appealing to those who like vibrant and bright flavours of milk chocolate and caramel” (Savannah).
“This one’s like the little brother of the Blends. It’s light, bright and extremely moreish. Blend #2 is delicious with milk as well as a long black” (Marte).
Karvan Blend 3?
“This is one of my favourites. It has deep and earthy fruit flavours. It’s a little heavier than Blend 2. Imagine a dried fruit platter with chocolate sprinkles. And who wouldn’t want that?” (Marte).
“Blend 3 features some Sumatran coffee beans which play a very important role in acquiring the distinctly rich and earthy notes in this blend” (Savannah).
Karvan Blend 4?
“This is hands-down the crowd pleaser. Very much loved in our coffee community and the most popular choice amongst cafes. It’s a classic cup with familiar flavours of rich cocoa. It’s a full bodied cup yet defined and sweet on the finish. Timeless” (Marte).
“It’s roasted a little bit longer to offer a deeper flavour that’s designed to cut through milk. Great for those who want a rich and bold tasting milky coffee” (Savannah).
How do you choose the green coffee beans?
“We work closely with multiple green bean importers in Australia. With our knowledge, we know what kind of beans to look out for, what kind of flavours we’re chasing and which ones are the best suited for our needs. We choose a wide selection of premium green bean samples and roast them in our sample roaster which is a small-scale roasting machine. Once roasted, we take them to our cupping table for a taste test. In the cup we’re looking for sweetness, balance, quality and wow-factor. We’re a confident team here so we know when we have something exceptional on the table…”
“… This year we installed a cool room in our warehouse. It’s a room where we can keep a steady temperature for our green beans. This will protect them from light, high temperatures and prolong their vibrancy”. (Marte).
“We go through a high volume of samples but we’re very selective. The ones we do select are the beans we’re truly excited to share… and drink ourselves! Once we have tasted a Single Origin that ticks all of the boxes, we place the order and get in those fantastic green beans. We change our Singles quite often so as to offer an interesting selection for our customers and cafes” (Savannah).
What is coffee cupping?
“We cup every batch we roast. This ensures quality control, that our blends are true to their flavour notes and it’s a chance to taste those fancy Single Origins. We line the cups on the table with freshly ground beans. Each cup is the same size and the amount of coffee is measured exactly the same in each cup. This is to be consistent and also to meet SCAA cupping standards. We pour equal amounts of hot water in each cup, let it brew for 4minutes, then we break the top layer of grinds, smell the aroma, clean off the top with two spoons and finally give it a taste. We follow our own cupping sheet to record the unique aromas and flavours. At the end, we compare our notes” (Savannah).
“Cupping is a very big part of coffee roasting. Crucial when selecting green beans by assessing samples and making purchasing decisions. It allows you to conduct quality control – It’s important to know what flavour profile your coffee shall meet, and continue to produce these. On the cupping table we as roasters can directly taste and experience our work. Here we will assess, analyse and continuously improve each roast as we produce it” (Marte).
Any special roasting methods
“First and foremost, the beans tell us how they want to be roasted and not the other way around. We analyse the beans collecting moisture and density readings, size and origin of beans also tell you a lot about how you can approach them with your roasting method. With knowledge of similar beans and always cupping your roasts to know where they shine the most will help you determine what type of roast level and therefore also what device they will suit. Ultimately, our goal is to exhibit the delicious flavours naturally in the beans. Filter coffee beans are commonly lighter roasts, so they’re in the roaster for a shorter period of time. Whereas, espresso is generally roasted a little bit longer” (Savannah).
“The Single Origins are all roasted in our 6kg Geison, which has been referred to by a roasting technician as a bit of a “Ferrari”. It’s been upgraded to have adjustable fan speed and a much more user-friendly gas control regulator. We roast the singles in small batches through this roaster. A smaller roaster allows us a great level of control over the roast. It’s such a responsive and unforgiving machine which makes it challenging but therefore, a lot of fun”
“We recently invested in a 15kg Giesen to keep up with demand. This roaster will be a very exciting chapter for us. We are at the very start of setting this roaster up and learning how it can further improve our roasts is incredibly invigorating!” (Marte).
What awards have you won?
“Every bag of beans is a winner in our eyes. But Blend 2, Blend 4 and our Decaf have really taken the spotlight.” (Marte).
“Over the last decade Blend 2 has continued to win awards. 2011/12, it took bronze at the Australia-wide Golden Bean. 2014, they were awarded bronze in the International RASV Coffee Awards (milk-based category). 2019, Blend #2 was given Silver at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show (espresso category). 2019, they were given another bronze at the Golden Bean! And it’s a very similar story for Blend #4 and Decaf. Some customers are so shocked by our Decaf they don’t believe us that it’s truly decaffeinated” (Savannah).
Have you got some coffee tips for the roasting or coffee newcomers out there?
“Be interested, be passionate and always be wanting to know more. Knowledge is essential. Know your beans, understand the equipment you are using and accumulate experience. As you acquire more skills you will become familiar with the wonderful world of coffee. Each origin has its own characteristic flavours to familiarise yourself with. Certain coffee regions, coffee varieties and processing methods add to the fun. Coffee also means community – It has connected people in social gatherings for hundreds of years over the enjoyment of this delicious drink. Be prepared to meet many lovely people from all areas of the industry. (Marte).
Anything exciting we should keep our eye on?
“We’ll be working on the next Seasonal Blend soon, which will be featuring some really scrumptious coffee beans. The flavour notes are yet to be confirmed so stay tuned folks” (Savannah).