For the inaugural Agriculture After Dark, we were joined by Saxon Wright, the founder and CEO of Pablo & Rusty's Coffee Roasters. Over the last 20 years, Saxon has moved from owning and running cafes to now focusing on the roasting side of the business.
Saxon spoke to us about the various aspects of taste and what makes a good quality coffee, from the sweetness of black coffee, through to the various flavours distinct to each variety. He then moved on to showing the "Paddock to Cup" process of coffee, from the growing around the world, to the roasting and grinding process. It was interesting to link what is happening on farm to what the flavour experience is when drinking.
Saxon has also been involved in significant sustainability work in China in terms of reducing the effect of monocultures on the environment through improving diversity and increasing sustainability of farms. An initiative he has developed in partnership with a company in China is the "Huskee Cup". This is made from on-farm coffee waste, and the result is a cup made sustainably from natural ingredients that is a ceramic replacement. The Huskee Cup can be used in cafes as normal cups would. This is currently in pre-production stage and will likely become popular in cafes in the near future.
Finally, Saxon gave us an overview of different methods of brewing coffee at home with some tips for the home barista. It was interesting to hear the effect that buying a more premium beans has in terms of both flavour, but also particularly the effect on the sustainability of farming land and the livelihood of the producer.
The audience reaction was positive with comments such as "the presentation opened my eyes to a whole new world and encouraged me to think about what goes on behind the scenes of my cuppa." It was great to have a lively speaker who cares about the environment and sustainable agriculture. Our Agriculture students and their parents learned much from this our first Agriculture After Dark Twilight Lecture. Many thanks to Scott Graham, Head of Agriculture, Barker, for collaborating with the Barker Institute to arrange this coffee tasting and presentation.