Hi James, thanks for sharing some of your story. Where did you start your journey in coffee?
Like a lot of baristas, I started while I was as at university, working part time at Aromas in Noosa. They had a serious training regime, including sending you to Toby’s Estate in Sydney. You were only allowed on the espresso machine once you could make every coffee perfectly.
I moved to Sydney and worked at Lox Stock & Barrel in Bondi. I got to know just about everyone in Bondi! It was high paced and intense. I got to work with some very skilled and very nice people.
I joined Moonshine in October 2020 after a stint at Punch & Daisy in Mullumbimby. I had just finished building a cabin in Wanganui and the opportunity to work with a local coffee roaster was fantastic.
So, you’re a builder as well?
No, not as such! My partner, Maddie, and I designed and helped build a wooden cabin on our rainforest block. When I lived in Sydney, friends would encourage me to move up here and start. For years it was just a vacant block and I would dream about the possibilities. The environment at the end of the valley, with a river and rainforest, is special and lush. We’re chipping away at a bigger plan – we’re planting lots of trees for an orchard and are learning how to look after bee hives and a whole lot of chickens.
You’ve got a little family. Can you share a bit about that side of life?
We have a little girl and another little one on the way. I didn’t fathom how special it is to be a father. I used to see how people would treasure their children and, when you see their essence and innocence from the beginning, it’s so beautiful and so important to nurture.
Maddie and I both want to do our best at parenting. She is the most patient person I know and puts so much into it. It inspires me.
What were you like as a kid?
I grew up in Noosa in Queensland, on Sunshine Beach. We were very fortunate to grow up in nature and were pretty wild and free. I used to run through the national park, build cubbies and surf with my younger brother and sister.
There was the three of us kids, with my mum and stepdad, Barry. Mum is a very nurturing and social person. Barry is a lovely, peaceful guy. He taught me a lot about being peaceful, and how not to be reactive.
There’s normally a lot of smiles when you’re around, James! Tell us what happens in a normal work week for you?
I look after Moonshine’s wholesale accounts, keeping customers happy. That includes dropping off weekly coffee orders, introducing new products like single origins, performing coffee machine maintenance and delivering barista training.
I also get to work on new products and help develop ideas like Magic Moonshine, our instant coffee and mushroom mix.
I love relating to people, building relationships and learning how customers do things. People are interesting. If I can help make their work lives a little bit easier, that’s an awesome outcome of my job.
What insights have you gained about the coffee industry while working at Moonshine?
I’ve learned that, when it comes to coffee, just go for the best. Don’t mess about with a cheap grinder or an average machine. Go for the best product in each step of the coffee process, all the way from bean to cup.
I hear you are a competent boxer. How? Why?!
You wouldn’t think it, but there was a rough side to Noosa. Growing up, I got in a few scraps and quickly learned that the world can be a violent place. My boss at Aromas in Noosa trained with a boxing coach named Victor - he was kind of a Russian Shrek! He used to train Kostya Tszyu (a former lightweight boxing champion). I trained for years and got pretty good. He wanted me to compete in fights but I wasn’t keen. I didn’t want to hurt people, I just wanted to be confident.
What other attribute or skill do you have that most people don’t know about?
Homesteading skills! I’m teaching myself stone masonry and I just learned beekeeping.
Thanks for chatting, James. Can you leave us with a motto or saying that you try to live by?
You should always strive to be a better version of yourself, every single day.