BILL Erickson is what you might call an accidental coffee roaster.
He and business partner Nadine Spilsbury were busy running their successful Loftus Pies bakery when talk started to get around that maybe pies were not so good for your health.
They decided to diversify in case the unthinkable happened and harking back to Bill's past experience in coffee roasting, set up a business in their Kirrawee factory.
Ten years later, the pies are still selling well and so is their coffee, which has been awarded a swag of medals at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, including gold in 2006 for Nadine's Ebony Mist in the coveted, espresso short black division.
Nadine's Ebony Mist is their biggest selling blend, but they have high hopes for Troy's Choice, which delivers a strong flavour without the after-taste and is named after Bill's late son.
Bill roasts about 350 kilograms of beans every week, most of which are sold through their factory outlet to people with home espresso machines.
"For a business in the middle of nowhere, we sell an amazing amount of coffee," Bill said.
Part of the reason could be the price, which starts at $33 a kilogram — or its freshness, for it is a truth universally acknowledged that the fresher coffee, the better it tastes.
When the aroma of roasting beans starts to fill the air around the factory, people seem to follow their noses to the outlet shop, where there is a coffee to suit every craving, from the bold and strong to the rich and robust.
Beans, like wine, exude any number of flavours — floral, fruity, spicy, lemony and chocolaty, among others, Bill says.
Nadine's offers six single-origin 100 per cent organic coffees: Daterra Bourban collection from Brazil; Cafe Ceylan from Guatemala; El Olivo from Mexico; Sulawesi from Indonesia; Terranova Estate, a lemony flavoured coffee from Zambia, and a decaf from Columbia made without chemicals.
But Bill is no coffee junkie and the way some people carry on about the beans — the smell, the roast, the flavour, the spice — is not for him. Good bad or indifferent, he says "coffee is the cement that holds friends together around the table".
"Drink it and enjoy it. Anything else is missing the point," Bill said.
Free coffee tastings are held Saturdays (8am-11am) in the factory at 6 Yalgar Road, Kirrawee. The blends come in bags from 250 grams. You can stock up on Loftus pies and cakes in the coffee shop.