Fat Cow Coffee

So its with great delight that I have the responsibility to drag my lovely wife around this beautiful continent of ours. Filling her in on all my favorite haunts, discovered from an epic three year Australian circumnavigation via Volks Wagon. Begun and finished at the turn of the century.

(Three years simply because that's how often we broke down and how slow she went up hill)

Now what tour of Oz would be complete with out allowing one self to become completely lost amongst the hills of the Northern Rivers District. I am of generation X and so I have had the pleasure (or frustration) to watch the disposition of Byron Bay from what it was to what it is. Though I am not here to discuss politics dear friends, no not at all. I am not on the verge of bringing to light the things that divide, but to share those that bring us together. Thus today's topic of indulgence is of course coffee.

So away from Byron but just a small step inland beyond the pretty town of Bangalow to the hills of Nashua is where this story begins. I mentioned earlier a Combie adventure begun a decade ago, which just so happens to be with the couple whose driveway I am now currently driving down. We are in the hill tops looking west over the rolling green hills of the Hinterlands and the almost organic coffee plantation "Fat Cow Coffee" The tell tale signs of Combie bits lie every where and I see things are just how we left them and it feels good to be back. I told you coffee brings folks together.

When Mim & Jeff moved from the Central Coast to retire in the Hinterlands amongst the pesticide free coffee plantation. Never could they guess that retirement could be so much work. On the small plantation of only 3800 trees, they harvest by hand not machine. Hand picking only the ripe red beans to be sun dried, aged and roasted in the traditional way. A meticulous undertaking rare in today's coffee industry. The result being a "clean, earthy and grassy taste with a chocolaty aroma". As quoted by Nathan Byron, a coffee industry legend renowned for his vast expertise in the aromatic bean and owner of a roasting house catering to 30 Northern River coffee growers.

Though the quality control of ripe perfect hand picked beans does not stop here with Fat Cow Coffee. As only the densest of beans make it through to eventual roasting. After pulping, the coffee beans are covered in the slippery mucilage, which must be removed before drying. This is done by the process of fermentation, where by the coffee beans are put into cement tanks with water and are allowed to ferment for 16-36 hours. The densest of coffee beans sink, while the lighter beans termed "floaters" are skimmed from the surface and discarded.

From here the coffee beans are left to sun dry from an approximate 60% moisture content to 11-12% moisture content. Where by the are stored for 12 months before returning to the roasting house. This is essentially a large gas heated barrel in which the beans are constantly stirred at temperatures between 190 and 220 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.

So if your any kind of coffee enthusiast as I am, no connoisseur mind you but a deeply devoted fan, than I assume your coffee of choice is as mine. A double espresso, neat. This is obviously not the case with most Australian baristas. I will not get in to the difficulty I am faced when I place this order and the confusing struggling conversation that is bound to follow, but lets just say espresso is not Australia's strong point. (Why when a double espresso is between 45ml and 75ml do I always end up with a half full espresso cup only is beyond me) Sorry I am babbling we were here to discus the purity of Northern Rivers Coffee and in particular Fat Cow.

I was determined to put Fat Cow to the double espresso test and so with beans under arm, I bolt for my favorite Hunter Valley Cafe. That being Soul Foods Cafe of Lorn just outside Maitland a favorite because of Megan's locally sourced Organic coffee. (For the record I also Recommend "Elements Cafe" King st and "III Bean Espresso" Beaumont St) Upon the Soul Foods barista perfect espresso test, Fat Cow comes out a milder coffee experience than expected and hoped, but deliciously chocolaty and well rounded never the less.

So where to next I hear you ask...... hmmmm I think to Mudgee for a wee course in the finer art of sheep's milk cheeses and the making there of.

Until then.

Ciao, Tchüsse, Doie

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