In the north Sydney suburb of Hornsby in Australia, a coffee couple with deep ties to Brazil and a family-driven passion for healing physical and social ills has been taking in guests under the name Coffee DRs.
Luke and Julia Bantatua opened the coffee shop serving fresh-roasted beans of their own sourcing and roasting not long before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Since then, they’ve managed to further build out and refine the small coffee shop space while adding staff.
The shop itself sits in a 42-square-meter (approximately 450-square-foot) space that was previously a waiting area in a medical center that is operated by Luke Bantatua’s parents, a pair of doctors who originally hail from the Philippines.
“It was literally just the coffee machine and grinders at the beginning with a small fridge which then started to have little additions every month or so as we started to grow,” said Luke Bantatua. “Our workflow also really had to change and adapt when we started growing from needing two people in the shop to four people in the shop to give a quality service and short wait time.”
Coffee for the shop is roasted under Luke’s watch off-site in a Loring S70 Peregrine roaster. In 2016, Luke left a pharmaceutical career to pursue coffee, joining Sydney roasting company as a junior roaster then quickly taking over as head roaster.
He then struck out on his own, renting a 1-kilo machine and refining the craft under the tutelage of renowned Australian roasting professional and consultant James Craig.
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The business launched in earnest once Julia Bantatua (formerly Pains) entered the picture. Hailing originally from Brazil, Julie has family ties to coffee producers in Brazil’s famed Minas Gerais region, and the two quickly realized a desire to build a business that would fundamentally be supportive of farmers.
“Sometimes things are too aligned to ignore,” Luke said of the romantic relationship that since blossomed into a business partnership, with Julia handling many of the business operations details for Coffee DRs.
Luke credited Australian green coffee companies Melbourne Coffee Merchants and Condesa with helping to carry out Coffee DR’s equitable sourcing goals.
With naturally heavy representation from traceable Brazilian arabicas, Coffee DRs offers a rotating selection of single-origin coffees and blends in brightly colored packaging that either reflects the point of origin or the brand’s message of healing through coffee.
At the coffee shop, beans pass through Anfim grinders for daily specialty blends or Mahlkönig EK43 for pourover brews, while a 3-group La Marzocco Linea PB handles the load for espresso. The focus at the intimate shop is squarely on coffee, with only a few pastries and one sandwich — a smokey ham and cheese tomato toast — on offer.
“The reason for our really small menu is so that we can focus on providing our customers a very high level of quality and consistency,” Bantatua said. “The last reason for a small menu is so that our team has less to focus on when preparing and instead have more time to talk to our customers.”
Coffee DRs is now open at Shop 9/25 – 29 Hunter St, Hornsby NSW 2077, Australia. Tell us about your new coffee shop or roastery here.
Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine.