Queensland farmer’s caffeine obsession percolates into trial coffee crop

Rod Walmsley loves a good cup of coffee, and one day soon he hopes to be drinking his own brew.

His obsession with the caffeinated beverage has inspired him to plant 250 trees in a trial crop near Bundaberg.

“The next step was to grow my own and I had a few trees at home.

“The next thing it expanded to a mini orchard.”

Bundaberg’s climate is commensurate with that of Hawaii in the northern hemisphere, which grows many similar crops, such as sugar cane, macadamia nuts and pineapples.

But unlike Hawaii, which is famous for its Kona blend, the sugar city has no commercial coffee crop.

Mr Walmsley said his plantation, which he named Kadily after his children Kaden and Tilly, will test the feasibility of growing the plant in the region.

“It’s certainly a challenge. It’s a dry town so it’s all under trickle irrigation, so I’ve had to certainly keep that up this long hot summer,” he said.

“The heat does knock the trees around a bit and the wind too and Bundy certainly has its fair share of wind.

“But considering those things they’re doing quite well.”

Harvesting the perfect brew

Mr Walmsley has harvested his first crop, but that is just the start of the process to getting to a well brewed cup of joe.

“It’s certainly not over once you pick the ripe fruit, they’ve got to be pulped in a pulping machine and then fermented and then dried,” he said.

“The a second skin, once it’s dry, has to be removed and only then is it ready for roasting.

While the crop is not yet big enough to supply local cafes, Mr Walmsley hoped to be able to sell at local markets if production increased.

“I’m certainly realising how labour intensive it is … it’s all done by hand, there won’t be any machinery used here,” he said.

“Coffee’s a bit of a specialty thing, I think you have to have a personal interest in it to pursue it.

“If you don’t have that I think you’re going to be spending a lot of hours and a lot of hard yakka for something that you’re not that interested in.”

The big test now is whether or not the beans will live up to Mr Walmsley’s high expectations on taste, before he considers the trial a success worth scaling up.

“I really won’t know until the final roasting process is done of this first lot and they may taste horrible,” he said.

“I’m hoping they won’t, I hope they taste nice, I hope it’s got a good flavour profile so that there will be some interest.”

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