Expedition #2 - School Grounds Coffee Company

Words and Photos from Nekhil G. - School Grounds Coffee Cohort

On our second experiential education day, we travelled to the original Discovery Coffee location in downtown Victoria.

On arrival, we were met with the company’s cheery owner, Mr. Logan Gray, and the delicious aroma of freshly ground beans. We immediately knew that we were in for a great day.
As per our itinerary, our morning began with Head Roasters, Robin and Cory, who taught us that coffee grows well in the sunny region between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. We also learnt that the coffee bean is actually the seed of a fruit, called a cherry, which turns a deep red colour when it is ripe. Once the coffee is harvested, it is processed in one of two ways, either by a washed or natural method.

Robin also demonstrated how to roast beans. The coffee undergoes several chemical changes during this process, which is characterized by two phases known as the first and second crack. In the end, the beans which started out green, appeared brown. Cory shared that the green beans were hand-selected from farmers across the world. The source and age of the beans are especially important as they influence the taste of the coffee. Once the best-quality beans are selected, they are combined in different ratios to create multi-origin blends that are subjected to a series of taste tests.

At Yonni's bakery, we were given the sweet opportunity bake donuts with the Head Baker, Janice and Discovery Coffee’s General Manager, Kara. The bakery produces more than four thousand donuts a week, from scratch. Dough removed to create the donut centres is used to make “D-Holes" and all leftover doughnuts are donated to local food banks. At the end of the station, we were each treated to a donut. One bite in and we were hooked. They were divine.
During our final station, the Education Manager, Brittany’s passion shone through as she taught us how to brew coffee. We learnt that “extraction is everything that the water takes from the coffee.” (Matt Perger, 2015). We were surprised to discover that there are several steps involved in pulling the perfect espresso. The session ended with a tasting session called cupping. There, we were drinking espressos like professionals, noting its aroma, flavour, aftertaste and appearance.

In addition to guiding us through his daily grind, the operation of the roastery, bakery and cafe, Mr. Logan Gray granted us an interview, during which we learnt that he started Discovery Coffee with his father and brother. The road to success was not easy but they persevered and today, this locally-owned, family-run business, has expanded to include seventy-five employees who work across five locations, a food truck, bakery, roastery and training centre, which offers an impressive selection of coffee education and barista courses. By the end of the afternoon, we roasted more than thirty batches of coffee. On the whole, the day proved to be a perfect blend of coffee theory and hands-on learning.

As a group, we have a new-found appreciation for coffee’s journey from seed to cup.
This experience has certainly inspired us to use the skills we’ve gained to bring joy to SMUS, one perfectly brewed cup of coffee at a time.

Here is a video edited from Jessica C. in our cohort showing the highlights of our day: