When Zac Suito opened a new cafe in Katoomba 18 months ago some people thought he was crazy to stake his ground away from the town’s busy main street in a lone shopfront opposite Katoomba RSL Club.
But the 25-year-old never had any doubts.
Always confident that sourcing and roasting the finest coffee from around the world would draw customers to the unassuming Lurline Street cafe, Mr Suito has steadily built a loyal band of customers who are more than happy to savour their espresso away from the nearby tourist throng.
The Katoomba business owner received some welcome affirmation for his foresight on the weekend when The Sydney Morning Herald’s 2013 Good Cafe Guide made Cassiopeia Specialty Coffee its only Blue Mountains entry.
“Zac Suito is roasting a name for himself in this simple shopfront cafe with sensitive blends and stand-out single origins . . . Next, the world,” it stated.
With a staff of 18 and another cafe in Springwood Mr Suito doesn’t have much time to rest on his laurels but he still found time to savour the listing.
“I do like that people are starting to notice all the effort and time we put into sourcing coffee, roasting coffee and making coffee. It’s nice it’s being appreciated,” he said.
His efforts to track down the world’s finest coffee saw the former St Columba’s High School student make separate trips to Panama and Honduras this year. He was a jury member at the 10th Cup of Excellence competition in Honduras in April and discovered an exciting new coffee crop at Panama’s high-altitude Finca Elida Estate earlier in the year.
Personally meeting the owner of the almost 100-year-old farm is just one example of Mr Suito’s coffee passion.
“He’s had some really outstanding crops in the last couple of years and we were lucky enough to get our hands on a few bags,” he said.
Blue Mountains residents should be able to taste the results for themselves in about two months’ time when Mr Suito hopes to introduce the Panamanian coffee to both his cafes. If they are as popular as his regular espresso blend — featuring beans from Colombia, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia — he will be a happy man.
Mr Suito said one of the secrets to Cassiopeia’s popular coffee is their beans are roasted more lightly than many other cafes, bringing out their delicate flavours (all the roasting is done on site at Katoomba). He is also committed to pricing transparency, paying considerably above Fair Trade prices for his beans.
“I think if you produce a good quality product, if you’re consistent with that, and you keep up with the times, you’ll survive,” he said.
And maybe even be ready to take on the world.
The 2013 Good Cafe Guide is available in bookshops or online at smhshop.com.au.
By Damien Madigan, Blue Mountains Gazette, 26/6/13