Established in 1993, Rebecca & John Zentveld moved from Melbourne back to John’s family farm to set up Zentveld’s coffee roastery. In their few years in Melbourne, they developed an appreciation of good coffee (well, who wouldn’t), paying attention to roast profiles and cup offerings from Melbourne’s renowned coffee roasting and cafe scene. Of course everything roasted, served and tasted in Melbourne was of foreign bean origin, but Rebecca wanted to set benchmarks for her roasting and desired cup profiles for the newly available Australian estate coffees.
Meanwhile, John as a programmer and systems administrator ‘got a real job’ at local Southern Cross University; whilst Rebecca bought a 10kg roaster and set about learning to roast the local beans. Before the internet, without guidance or available roasting courses, it was hands on practice, learning by doing and tasting. It was a pretty unusual career change at age 23 and quite entrepreneurial to leave the city to start roasting pure Australian grown coffee, on the ‘in laws’ farm with only 5 other local growers established.
This was before tree-changing or sea-changing was a thing, and well before the stream of millennial baristas-turned hipster coffee roasters became a thing.
It helped that John’s parent’s John Snr. & June Zentveld have a beautiful property in the hills behind Byron Bay, and were the local coffee entrepreneurs who pretty much established the local coffee growing industry from scratch just a few years before. J&JZ Senior worked closely with the Department of Agriculture and local agronomists to trial new varieties, figure out how to grow and to look after the coffee quality right from seed through growing, harvesting and processing to green bean. But that’s really glossing over the details. There was a lot of unknowns with new equipment to be sought and much risk taking in order to start a new agribusiness and encourage other growers to join in, so as to develop a sustainable, viable local coffee growing industry. One that would have to compete against much cheaper-produced, imported coffees of the developing world. So the coffee needed to be really good to gain decent value for their efforts. Based on the fact that we could indeed grow beautiful coffee in a particularly sustainable and ethical manner, (yes it’s a trope, but true) Rebecca set about learning to unlock the flavour potential of our local coffee. We’ve produced a few well tasty blends of Aussie beans to some renown since. Many a roaster, some respected coffee scientists, coffee tasters and Australian and international coffee companies have all visited our farm based roastery over the years. We love sharing and learning from them and always seek to be open to new ideas and their feedback. We want to be really good at what we do, and remain at the forefront of the Australian coffee industry, so we are open to new ideas for our long term production and sustainability.
Blessed with a cooler subtropical climate we grow our coffee naturally without harmful pesticides.
We just don’t have the pests and diseases that are prevalent in most coffee lands of hotter climates. Grown organically, bird friendly and increasingly worm friendly, our coffee growers find biological practices are better for the overall health of their soils, their coffee trees and the environment that they are caretakers of. As on our land, many growers have completed creek line rainforest regeneration and wildlife corridors for biodiversity. On Zentveld’s property we actively grow cover crops such as the legume pinto peanuts to add nitrogen back in the soil, and soft, low growing grasses to cool the soil and form a nice matt cover right up to the tree trunks to minimise mowing and weed growth. Why not reduce our inputs and carbon footprint if we can! Local growers use minimal water in processing compared to many coffee growing nations as we invest in the latest water saving equipment. We use all crop and ‘waste’ matter from processing and tree trimmings as mulch or compost, increasing the health of our soils. Being friendly with food producers, what is waste to one, is mulch to us, so we happily accept other organic material to mulch our 40 acres of coffee trees. With so few growers amidst horticultural diversity, there is no monoculture, or over-cropping across the few pockets of coffee growing in Australia. The sustainability and ‘green’ farming of our local coffee growers is something we can be quite proud of.
Zentveld’s are members of Soilcare and our land is registered with Land for Wildlife. We have a long history of putting our hand up for scientific trials and to implement new environmental strategies or analysis with both local and further afield Universities and the Department of Agriculture. Science and care of the environment go hand in hand, and we are happy to continue learning how best we can look after our soils, creek line and viable land for the sustainable future.
Entering the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show for the first few years of the coffee competition, Zentveld’s won 22 medals and were the most awarded coffee company during the years of entering and some years beyond. We also received the Confectionary Prize and Gold and Silver Medals for our pure Dark chocolate and pure Milk chocolate espressobeans at Hobart and Sydney Royal Fine Food Shows. Medals are nice, along with industry recognition, but we love compliments from our customers and those who appreciate good coffee all the more. That’s why we love what we do. We love that you love our beans too!
Tech & Managing Director, roastery & farm. Still keeps his hand in specialist programming and systems management on the side. In house creator of stickers and artwork and back of house web programming.
John is chief technical support to cafes; fixing espresso machines, farm and other gadgetry in his spare time. Tinkering in his workshop welding and fixing stuff gives him much pleasure.
On weekends, if not at coffee events or on road trips visiting cafes with Bec, can be found in his workshop, doing stuff. Busy and most usefully skilled he is!
The last few years John has taken over the management of the family farm, and is continuing our sustainable biological practices with further investment in organic inputs, ground covers, mulching and composting as well as updating processing systems from the the farm through to the roastery. And he learnt to drive the harvester. Handy chap he is!
Coffee quality and customer care are Bec’s number one. Loves roasting, tasting and being out and about with customers.
Works on creative stuff with Georgia.
Works on roasting blends with Andi, orders and customer queries with Samantha and Donna.
Loves looking after the chooks, veggies and real farm time. Trees are flowering? Bees are busy pollinating? Ground covers growing? Happy days.
Hosts tours and volunteers actively with local coffee org. Australian Subtropical Coffee Association (ASTCA) and planning local foodie events and meetings : with Northern Rivers Food (NRF).
Promoter of growing local food. Current mantra: We need more growers! Current bugbear : seeing our ‘best food bowl land’ grow houses, not food.
Selects fun, mostly arts and environmental events to attend or sponsor with our coffee service.
Customer support all day every day. Manages the daily orders, and customer requests.
For 11 years now, part of the Zentveld ‘family’, knows the business in and out and still loves pleasing customers every day and gets their coffee orders out quick smart.
Loves customers who love our coffee! Knows the ins and outs of making fab coffee, so can talk through issues with baristas or the home coffee maker. Self taught at pretty fancy free pour latte art, too. Most of our customers know Samantha by phone, and are greeted most warmly on the phone or at the front counter of our roastery. Samantha will help you select the right coffee just for you.
Whilst Bec claims the Roastmistress title, as the creator of the blends – the daily roasting is Andi’s domaine. Most weeks, twice a week for 10 years now too.
Particular, consistent, committed to getting each and every roast right. What’s your favourite roast profile? Andi is on board to get it right every time.
Makes micro adjustments through the roasting process to ensure the roast profile is just as we would want, and you are expecting. Very particular and ‘onto it’! An ex cafe owner, and well experienced barista, ready for barista-ing for special events.
A most professional trainer, one of the few registered to teach the Australia wide, industry recognized “Prepare and serve espresso coffee’ Barista course. So chief Barista Trainer for Zentvelds. Check out our course dates online for an Andi led-day of barista learning HERE.
What to roast? What teas do we need? What packaging do we need? Just ask Donna.
With a long history in local food businesses and 11 years with us, Donna knows the daily rhythm, gets the orders out the door and directs the Directors to order up and keep on top of all stock levels. Packs the daily orders Monday – Wednesday, predicts what we’ll need to roast and keeps the flow of fresh coffee, teas and chocolate out from the roastery to you. ‘Donna Despatch’ indeed!
Donna will look after you at our retail counter and get that grind right to suit your machine.
Georgia is willing and ready to take on all sorts of action. Supports Bec in particular with … events management, artwork, website, social media and customer support. Works on marketing support for cafes and businesses.
Barista and cafe support is Georgia’s specialty, after many years as an experienced, superb and super friendly barista. Happy to share ideas and show you a few tips to get the best out of your coffee.
Offering tastings and in-store training sessions, cafe visits, or serving our finest coffee most friendly at local events and for guests on tour or visiting our roastery. Come talk coffee with Georgia.
What this talented woman fits into a day ever amazes us. Kelly is onto it. Thorough and particular, she’s keeping our accounts up to date, every week, phew.
Does the eating peas that others (the Directors) don’t want to do. You know, the cold peas you leave on the side of the plate, not those nice raw snow peas. Manages to balance accounts whilst playing 80’s pop and humming along. Funny, chatty and warmhearted, a pleasure to have with us, not just a clever one with numbers.
Chris is one of those guys who has done all sorts of jobs, so brings a range of skills to our coffee farm. An ex science teacher, would be mechanic, concreter, team captain for years regenerating rainforest and tree plantings. So he’s a tree man yet comfortable learning new machinery and processing equipment. Happy on a tractor or bobcat, spreading compost or fixing stuff. Always has a story, a smile and laugh at the ready. ‘Everyday is a good day’ is a Chris mantra. How good is that.
Willem does actually work for us, proper like.
After school junior for so many years now, probably before it was legal to employ such a young’un. Anyway, has learnt a few skills to make himself useful.
Under the guidance of ‘Just ask Donna’, Willem follows in the footsteps of Zentveld junior history : brings in stock from the other shed, (moves stuff), makes up cartons now with the help of a ‘robot’, (which is really just a box sticky taping machine and Bec’s favourite job – filling a carton and sending it through the robot.) So he makes stuff. Then he fills stuff – green bean hoppers need filling from their bags. (ie lugs and lifts stuff.) Then he vacuums out the roaster (cleans stuff) and empties the chaff on the garden so our roaster wont catch on fire. Phew. Important jobs well done!
Willem has finished Yr 12 now, so his Junior Time has come to an end. Time to learn farm stuff now.
“Have I told you how much I love coming here?” Is Peter’s almost daily repose.
When he first befriended us Peter was just happy to seek farm time. Then we gave him a desk with ‘that view’ over the plantation. Sigh. Happy man. He strolls in after a morning surf, offers a round of morning hugs, and makes a damn fine cup of coffee. When daily business time is over he might mow the grass – super fun! Hang out in the workshop and bring in some fine wood working gear to build us tables, even better! Then he became our bee man – bringing in bee boxes and the full gear and skills to look after our Flow Hive bees too. Yay for farm biodiversity! Peter keeps himself welcome round here with his offerings of usefulness, and he makes us laugh with his self depreciation and wit. So good for team spirit! A nice sounding board for business talk with John too. So we love you being with us, Peter and are happy you take some of our finest beans back to Portland!