Established in 2003 by Dion and Emma Cohen – a couple of single origin lovers escaping the corporate world – Single O has grown significantly since opening their small café and roastery in the back streets of Surry Hills, Sydney.
As we welcome a new year, we caught up with Single O’s Senior Roaster, Stu Smith to reflect on the brands path to success through their unique approach to sustainability and discuss their exciting projects in the pipeline.
When Single O began grinding beans in 2003, Australia’s coffee scene was vastly different. Back then, it was a sea of stale Italian packet coffee and fresh quality beans were hard to come by. By necessity and sheer will, Emma and Dion led the charge on showcasing single origin coffees, along with third wave roasting and brewing in Sydney.
Since then, Single O has grown to supply like-minded, quality-crazed cafes and venues around the world with their bases in Australia and Japan (since 2014) and expanding their reach as far as UAE and South Korea.
However, it’s their roastery in Botany, Sydney and Ryogoku, Tokyo where most of the action is. With a strong focus on innovation and sustainability, Single O’s unique approach to sourcing, service and engagement has set them apart from their fellow Australian roasters. One recent example is the introduction of their free pour black coffee taps in their Surry Hills café; a self-serve, self-pay system offering a line up of rotating specialty single origins, delivered in less than 15 seconds.
It’s been a ‘no bean unturned’ mindset here at Single O since day dot. We’re forever sourcing, sampling, roasting, tweaking & tasting, including the cupping of every production batch every single day.
While passionate about crafting the perfect brew for their customers, Single O is also focused on leaving a positive impact on the environment with strong sustainability initiatives at play. Since opening, branded single use cups have never been sold from their locations, consequentially avoiding a whole heap from ending up in landfill. While Single O has also made many sustainable choices, such as installing solar panels at each of their roastworks, their efforts to innovate with technology should not be overlooked. Almost 10 years ago, Single O co-founded The Juggler, a chilled milk dispensing system designed to speed up service and reduce waste without the use of plastic milk bottles. Most recently, they have joined “1% for the Planet”, committing 1% of turnover to crazy good non-profits that protect land, forests, rivers, oceans & encourage sustainable energy production.
We’re a long way from being saints but, we’ve always tried to do our bit for Mamma Earth.
When it comes to sourcing coffee, the team at Single O have been searching high and low (but mostly high, as altitude matters) to find the freshest harvest that will ensure a consistent flavour profile for their blends. When talking about coffee varieties, Stu likened this to selecting a wine as both vary in taste according to region, variety, soil type, altitude and process. However, it’s the single origin – a term used for unblended coffees – which first intrigued founders Emma and Dion, as they had an intimate connection from crop to cup.
“It’s this connection that got us into business – enjoying the various taste nuances while rewarding ethical, environmentally-sound, high quality producers and sharing the fruits of their labour.”
Every fortnight Single O releases new origins to suit all brewing methods, but typically enjoyed black.
Single O’s delicious blends are updated with seasonal harvests that deliver to the key taste profiles. When asked what the cult favourites were, Stu listed the Reservoir, Killerbee, Paradox and Yeehah! as home staples.
When purchasing a blend or single origin at Single O, it should be noted that every purchase contributes to the No Death to Coffee Project, a project launched by Single O to raise awareness on the impacts of climate change to the coffee industry and supporting the research and growth of climate-resilient varieties through World Coffee Research.
Passionate about connecting people to the planet and each other through well-crafted and ethical coffee, the Single O team look forward to continuing this in 2021 with the introduction of their sustainability team, who are looking to select a not-profit partners that will benefit from their 1% for the Planet donations.
In addition to their forthcoming releases, Stu assured us that there are some special Cup of Excellence releases on the horizon, including a pretty exciting Gesha expected to be released in a few weeks.
Whether in Sydney or Tokyo, be sure to stop by Single O Coffee Roasters and visit their tasting room to say hi and discover what amazing brew they’re working on.
To find out more about Single O, their locations and delicious coffee, visit their website.