Q&A with industry expert David Train from Langdon Coffee Merchants.
Sean Gaer – Key Account Manager at SilverChef
“I recently caught up with David Train from Langdon Coffee Merchants, about what is happening in the Green Bean / Roasting world of coffee and general questions about coffee and how to support customers in COVID-19”
Q: David, what is your background in coffee, how did you get started and what do you do now?
That’s a long story! My father decided to buy a café in 2005 in Sydney, after washing dishes for almost a year, I got to made to jump behind the machine and learn how to make coffee. He sold the café mid-2009 so I decided like most 21 year old Aussies to go to London.
After almost 4 years in London making coffee, cocktails and wine I moved over to Germany. From there I landed in a small roastery, in a small city called Osnabrück. From Germany I was asked to go back to the UK to work as a training/wholesale manager based in Oxfordshire. After a year, I was then offered a job back in Germany, this time Munich to head up a small, high-end quality driven specialty roastery.
After almost 8 years away, it was time to come “home” arriving in Melbourne to where I landed a job heading up the training program for Code Black Coffee Roasters.
After two years, the opportunity finally came to be exactly where I wanted, working for a coffee importer, Langdon Coffee Merchants, where I have been working for the last 15 or so months.
Over the years I was lucky enough to do well in the Brewers Cup competitions, recently placing 3rd at Nationals for 2019, and currently 1st for the 2020 Southern Regions Brewers Cup.
Q: What market do you sell into, what are you currently finding is happening in that market?
The market I sell into varies, my focus is on growth in NSW, SA and WA. The roasters I supply vary in size, and approach to coffee. Some in a more “old school approach” whilst some being more “progressive”. I really appreciate and enjoy all their philosophies and approaches to how they roast or buy coffee.
I am also helping younger or smaller roasteries understand how market and currency fluctuation can dramatically change the cost of coffee.
Currently the trend is a higher uptake in online and retail sales due to self-isolation, and people brewing at home. It is a great time to focus on social media strategies, home brewing devices and educational content for your client base.
Q: You have told me green bean prices are increasing, why is this happening and what does this mean for our roasters/cafes/customers?
The easiest and shortest answer is currency. Coffee is traded is USD, so depending on how the AUD – USD conversion rate is, it will adjust the cost of coffee. If you have not looked at the FX rate of the AUD – USD over the last month, I suggest you do immediately.
What this means for roasters is coffee is going to become more expensive due to reasons that none of us can control. So theoretically a switched-on roaster will already know this and will start working that into their margins immediately to help ease the price increases that will start to come.
You may also see less high end microlots coming in over the year, as it is currently buying season for a lot of origins and with some scepticism and uncertainty in the market it is hard for roasters to commit to the volumes or coffees they want or need.
Q: Is there a certain bean or blend roasters can focus on to reduce costs in this time and create better margin?
Roasters should talk to their importers or producing partners to understand what is happening along the supply chain.
Focus on locking in your main blenders now, and understand that you may not be able to secure the coffees you are used to buying for your blends. Look to potentially new origins or grades that might be more price sensitive to your needs.
I think it’s a great time for roasters to really push themselves to their limits on their roasting and sensory skills, to best learn and understand how to best roast some of these coffees to their fullest potential.
Q: I know you are an avid coffee drinker, as well as an expert. What beans do you recommend for home?
Luckily Colombia has two harvests a year, also because of our climate-controlled warehousing we have some amazing Ethiopian beans from last years’ harvest still tasting fresh, bright and flavoursome. So I am drinking a lot of coffee from those two origins at the moment.
Also being the nerd I am, I have a rather generous selection of frozen coffee in my freezer that I have collected over the last 4 years.
At home I brew with the Kono dripper. It’s a relatively simple and forgiving brewer to make coffee with. Generally, I use a 1-15 (+/- 1) ratio, meaning 1g coffee to 15ml of water.
For anyone wanting to brew at home, investing in a good grinder is probably the most important piece of equipment you can buy to help brew better coffee at home.
Q: Trends for the future – what do you think will happen in 2020 realistically in the coffee segment?
This is a hard question to answer as day by day things are changing so dramatically. The biggest trend for 2020 is the home brewing and retail market. As most people are staying home, they are still in need of coffee.
It is a good time for roasters to explore that market if they haven’t before, look at possibly starting a coffee subscription as retail sales also have higher margins built in, albeit less volume.
Q: How are you supporting your coffee roasting partners through the current COVID-19 situation?
We are having open and honest conversations about their current sales, forecasting 2020-2021, cash flow and also just trying to be there for them if they need a chat. Most of my conversations are now about non-coffee related subjects. A lot of these people are our friends and we are trying to be there for them if they just want to chat.
Q: Any tips you have for roasters to share with their wholesale customers to help remain open and trade?
Right now, is definitely the digital age, businesses with strong social media presences seem to be doing rather well. So take some time to invest in some creative content on what you might be doing differently to others and find the best means to promote that.
Have open and honest conversations with all your suppliers and wholesale customers about cash flow and how to support each other in these times.
Because everyone involved in our industry from farm level to café is in this together.
You can check out David’s Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/dtraincoffee/?hl=en
Also his LinkedIn profile here https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-train-a3157913a/
If you are a roaster and interested in discussing this further please reach out to David or http://www.langdoncoffee.com.au/