PADRE COFFEE: Sustainable Coffee Roasting

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Padre Coffee are specialty coffee roasters, wholesalers and retailers. As one of Melbourne’s first-ever specialty coffee roasters, Padre Coffee soon expanded beyond Melbourne into Noosa — where its Founder, Marinus Jansen, operates as the Director of Padre Coffee’s Noosa location. 

For Padre Coffee, promoting top-notch sustainable practices, building a transparent supply chain — and of course, roasting amazing coffee — are at the heart of everything they do. Padre Coffee are proud Compost Connect members and have partnered with BioPak for many years to source their certified compostable takeaway cups and lids.  

We chatted with Marinus Jansen about minimising waste, the barriers to being a sustainable business, the importance of education, and why he wants Padre Coffee to remain “little at heart”.

Padre Coffee Founder Marinus Jansen Padre Coffee Founder Marinus Jansen

Where did the idea for Padre Coffee come from?

“We started roasting our own coffee in 2007. It was all about having a small business that can be beneficial — not just to the owners, but beneficial to all the employees,” says Marinus. 

Melbourne has been considered a global leader in specialty coffee since the mid-’00s. “We found the market for specialty coffee — not through chasing it — it was more the realisation that there were other parts of the business, like buying and procuring green coffee, that we really needed to consider. Specialty coffee then became this pipe-dream because no one could afford to buy specialty coffee. Eventually, we [Padre Coffee] got to a point where we could chase that,” he says. 

Despite Padre Coffee’s significant growth over recent years, Marinus is still intent on keeping the credibility and sense of community associated with being a small business. 

“There’s a real push for small companies to become big companies. You have to grow it, because that’s what success is defined as in the capitalist market — bigger, stronger, that sort of thing. But, there’s actually a really healthy flow of people in a small business that’s probably better for the business and healthier for the business”. 

“If we want quality products, there’s a ceiling to the size that you can get. Once you push through that ceiling, you lose all credibility. You actually lose that bit that makes it special. Padre’s grown up a bit, but it’s still little at heart”. 

For us, he says, “the goal is to have a higher-quality and more sustainable approach — then it’s good for the environment, and good for the community”.

Padre Coffee roasting coffee beans on sitePadre Coffee roasting coffee beans on site

Being a coffee roaster, wholesaler and retailer, which area is the most difficult to minimise waste?

“I think there’s a lot of work to do in educating the consumer at the retail level. I think there’s a lot more that we [Padre Coffee] can do at the wholesale level, like with our packaging,” he says. But, for small businesses, the barriers to achieving 100% compostable packaging across the board are often insurmountable. 

For example, he says, “we had to have each bag certified compostable, which meant that we had to spend — for every sized bag, regardless of the fact that they were just different sizes — around $25,000 to get each item certified compostable. Like, we’ve found it, we’ve tested it, we’re keen, but Australia says no, you need $25,000 per item,” he said. 

At the time, Padre Coffee had nine different sizes of compostable coffee bags to be certified — that’s an investment of $225,000. “I feel like regulation is holding us back. Over half the [coffee roasting] industry can’t afford to do compostable packaging. There’s something fundamentally wrong with that,” he says.

For Padre Coffee, another big issue is the transportation of coffee and how it’s packaged. 

“They get a pallet, they put the coffee on it, and they put a huge amount of soft plastic around it, which goes into the waste stream but can’t be recycled — and nowhere up here [Noosa] takes it. So, we’ve started protesting the council because they should be managing that waste. Otherwise, we’d literally have van-loads of the stuff going to landfill. So, we said to the council, ‘you need to solve this problem’. They are working on it, to their credit. But that’s something we’ve really started to push for up here,” he says.

Coffee beans in hessian sackCoffee beans in hessian sack

What do you do with your coffee chaff and used coffee grounds?

“We’ve always found an avenue,” he says. For example, “one of our staff members up here lives on a farm. So, we’ve got two large bins and we just fill them up with coffee grinds and chaff and then he takes them out to his farm every week when they’re full. When we started the Compost Connect bin that we’ve been running, we started putting it in there. Once you know how to compost it properly and run it into the soil, it’s great — it’s so good for your garden”. 

Marinus says they still give out the chaff and grinds to local farmers, and in return, they’re offered finger limes, mushrooms, cucumbers and other local produce. 

Coffee chaff and used coffee grinds are valuable, sought-after resources, according to Marinus. Padre Coffee was one of the first coffee businesses in Melbourne to support Reground — a Melbourne-based business that collects coffee chaff, grounds and soft plastics from businesses and delivers them to commercial and domestic end-users

“One of the companies that was incubated through our business was Reground in Melbourne. We’ve been actively involved in supporting that. Probably, at the start, we were pretty misinformed about what we should be doing — so it’s been really good to be educated.

Coffee chaff used to make compost soilCoffee chaff used to make compost soil

Why does Padre Coffee use BioPak’s compostable coffee cups?

In the beginning, says Marinus, “we couldn’t find other compostable varieties. BioPak was already there, had already done the research, and was very cleverly marketed. We look for the best solution that we can that has some professionalism behind it. BioPak were, and always have been — and I admire their logistics system. They’re very centered on delivering a product and giving you all the information. BioPak is one of those companies that we trust through their actions, but also, we trust through their information and their transparency”. 

Padre Coffee also accept reusable coffee cups, like KeepCups, in all store locations. In fact, Padre Coffee was the first company outside of KeepCup to sell KeepCups to customers. 

Speaking about the cultural changes around the use of KeepCups, Marinus says “it really took off, and its made people more aware. It’s really easy to remember — people call anything that you can reuse a ‘KeepCup’. They’ve created a really good ethos and culture around making it a positive thing to use a KeepCup”.

Padre Coffee BioPak Compostable Coffee CupsPadre Coffee BioPak Compostable Coffee Cups

How do you think we can achieve better education around disposing of compostable items?

“It starts at school,” he says. Marinus has two bachelor’s degrees — one in Music, one in Theoretical and Nuclear Physics. Speaking about helping his son with his maths homework, he says “it’s great problem-solving skills — but, he wouldn’t know what goes in the recycling bin unless I told him”. 

This alludes to a larger, societal issue of apathy when it comes to waste and recycling. Speaking personally, Marinus says, “all of our recycling goes through the dishwasher, then it goes into our very clean recycling bin, and then it goes into a truck full of contaminated recycling… and then it goes to landfill,” he laughs. “So, I think there’s a massive fundamental failure in how we educate people”.

The problem is rooted in our throw-away culture, but it’s especially apparent in the way we dispose of fast-food packaging. First, he says, “they have a bag — not recyclable, with a cardboard box — not recyclable, with more paper, more straws, and it all just gets thrown out. The whole culture of throwing stuff away just blows my mind. It’s very ingrained, and it’s very lazy — but it’s also made really easy”.

Do you have any specific goals for the ‘Good Coffee Doing Good’ program for 2022?

Padre Coffee’s Good Coffee Doing Good program is a platform to talk about coffee through the lens of people and community. Beginning in 2020, the program comprised several fundraising campaigns for coffee farming communities in Burundi, Colombia and Rwanda. 

Despite Padre Coffee managing to fundraise over $15,000 to support these coffee farming communities, Marinus questioned whether the fundraising campaigns reached their full potential. That’s why in 2022, Padre Coffee is set to release a Good Coffee Doing Good Blend. A portion of the sale of ‘Golden Rule’ will produce year-round profits for each Good Coffee Doing Good recipient.

As the program grows and expands beyond the coffee roasting industry, Padre Coffee is looking to partner with Agency Projects — a non-profit based at Collingwood Yards. 

“So, rather than us saying here’s a donation for x/y/z, we’re actually working with people who know what they’re doing,” he says. “Finding something that is meaningful, that is contributed to — and there are lots of people actively involved in making a decision, and an informed decision — is really important,” he says. 

“It’s really powerful for me — because it sets an example, and then you can say, ‘is everyone doing this?’ or ‘has everyone thought about this?’”.

Party Bins collecting compost bins at Padre Coffee NoosaParty Bins collecting compost bins at Padre Coffee Noosa

How did staff and customers respond to the new compost bins?

All in all, “it’s been great, and we’re continuing on with it. We’ve got two venues up here [Noosa], and one that has a lot of food waste, which is great. The guys out there are very strict — they go through the recycling bin and pull out all the compostable bits and put them into the compost bin every week. We do the same here,” he says.

“The issue with it is that people take their compostable cups away, and I don’t know what they do with them — very few of them end up here”. Occasionally, people would also throw single-use plastic cups and other non-compostable items into the bin, according to Marinus. 

Marinus is adamant that Councils have a bigger part to play in facilitating better waste management for businesses. For example, he says, many Australian Councils have a requirement to split waste into three separate streams (compost, recycling and landfill) at public festivals. 

“Council has that requirement for a festival. Why does it not have that requirement for business? That’s the part that’s really disappointing, like, there’s nowhere for soft plastics — but soft plastics are a huge issue,” he says.

Padre Coffee staff showing composting signage in cafePadre Coffee staff showing composting signage in cafe

Do you believe that this trial will encourage other foodservice businesses to start composting?

“I think it will, definitely for some,” however, “I think we should all be encouraged to do it, and the council should be pushing and saying ‘well, if you want to do business in Noosa, you’ve got to take these things into account’. But, I think it’s going to happen — I think it’s going to start to become a real thing,” he says.

Compost bin with compostable coffee cupsCompost bin with compostable coffee cups

What are Padre Coffee goals for 2022?

Good news, Sydney-siders — Padre Coffee could be coming to you in 2022! “Our main goal is to open a coffee roastery in Sydney. We think the coffee community down there has a lot of room for a company that has a little bit more behind it in terms of credentials,” he says. 

“As we’ve grown as a team and matured as a company, we’re starting to see that what we do in terms of business in the community is very important — the social side is important for a lot of people. We’re just looking for ways to bring more of those communities together, and Sydney’s one of the event horizons for us where we’d like to be part of that community”.

Padre Coffee baristas Padre Coffee baristas

Are you a foodservice business doing cool sustainable things like composting? We want to know all about it! Get in touch with us at marketing@compostconnect.org