I watched with silent fascination at the man sitting in front of me, with one hand grasping a cup handle and another, a timer. Making a good tea takes a certain amount of time, Anthony Loberto of The Beansmith told me, and I was taken by surprise that he was actually watching the time. It became less surprising once I learned that Brisbane-born Anthony is trained as an engineer, which I took to explain the commitment to precision in what he was doing.
Tea aside, coffee is his real specialty, as implied by his company’s namesake. This is a man who really ‘gets’ coffee. Apart from Anthony’s lively manner of speaking, the fact that he enjoys taking copious notes on every recipe he makes – particularly on how to roast beans in a way to match a particular brew – betrays his passion for all things coffee. I was about to find out in this interview just how animated Anthony gets when talking about the technical details behind making the perfect cuppa.
His journey into the roasting industry began when a friend gifted him a popcorn-roasting machine that he – rather ingeniously – used to roast some coffee beans. He also pored over books and articles about it when he was a Masters student, purely out of a keen and inexplicable interest. One of them sits on a bookshelf in his café: a book by David C Schomer, who inspired everything Anthony has done with roasting.
Anthony took a step forward when he spent a lot of time with someone he knew who was into coffee, and from whom he bought his first roaster. Roasting coffee soon became a hobby that evolved into a weekend job in 2008. Back then, Anthony sourced the unroasted beans from a supplier in Sydney. To get them out for sale, he bought some Detpak bags, which he labeled with Avery stickers (the kind many food entrepreneurs use when they first start their business) that bore the company logo he designed with good ol’ Microsoft Word.
“And the next thing you know, an architecture firm was buying two kilos of coffee off me,” Anthony says with a smile. He was engaged full-time as an engineer then. But a growing business meant that less of Anthony’s time could be devoted to his day job, leading to him eventually convert his passion for coffee into a career. And voila, The Beansmith was born in April 2012, with the café business opening up three years down the road in May 2015 – the same one in Kelvin Grove we were sitting in for the interview.
After being in business for the past few years, Anthony shares that the fun part is “the journey of trying to make good coffee, the fun of learning and the great coffee you make sometimes.” He takes great pleasure in fine-tuning his recipes, in part due to his engineering background that contributes to his strong understanding of the technical details behind producing great coffee. But he also places strong emphasis on his customers, putting effort into taking good care of them and sharing tips on how they can make a good brew for themselves at home.
Anthony enjoys cycling, watching the Brisbane Roar, and listening to blues and folk music.
About The Beansmith
Anthony’s favourite coffee at the moment is Nicolas Colque.
What’s next for The Beansmith
Anthony hopes to see The Beansmith coffee beans used in a number of cafes in Brisbane and has plans to move his business to a bigger roasting facility.
Advice for prospective food entrepreneurs
Have a clear and concise vision and a straightforward plan that gets you to [achieving your business idea]. You also need to have a realistic budget. Add a little more to that budget, otherwise you’ll be in trouble. Make sure you have a sensible budget that gives you room to move.
Interviewed June 2015