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Wrong Andy Simpkin?

Mr. Andy Simpkin

Managing Director

Belaroma Coffee Company

HQ Phone: +61 1300 132 507

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Belaroma Coffee Company

75 Kenneth Road

Manly Vale, New South Wales 2093


Company Description

At Belaroma we believe there is no excuse for drinking a bad cup of coffee. That's the reason we employ genuine coffee experts and help develop their coffee expertise from green bean buying and quality assurance through to master roasting, production, p ... more

Find other employees at this company (39)

Background Information

Employment History

Managing Director

Cafe2U Pty Ltd

General Manager

Unilever N.V.


British Army




Appoints Executive Board Member
Zarraffa's Coffee


MD of Belaroma.

Web References (89 Total References)

With backing and support from ... [cached]

With backing and support from Belaroma Coffee Roasting Company owner Andy Simpkin (now Chairman of Cafe2U), Cafe2U was established - packing a complete barista bar into the back of a van.

With backing and support from ... [cached]

With backing and support from Belaroma Coffee Roasting Company owner Andy Simpkin (now Chairman of Cafe2U), Cafe2U was established - packing a complete barista bar into the back of a van.

Andy Simpkin, Managing ... [cached]

Andy Simpkin, Managing Director, Belaroma Coffee TEC NSW Alumnus

Andy Simpkin, Managing ... [cached]

Andy Simpkin, Managing Director, Belaroma Coffee TEC NSW member

Belaroma’s Andy Simpkin’s journey from the ranks to a roaster | The Premier Coffee Magazine, BeanScene [cached]

After tasting teas in the world's most challenging countries, Belaroma's Andy Simpkin says he's happily settled in Australia's thriving coffee industry.

A career move from the armed forces to tea tasting may not seem like the most natural progression, but for a generation of British officers - including Belaroma's Andy Simpkin - it's more common than you might think.
Thirty years ago, Andy explains, Unilever's Lipton Hot Tea Company grew tired of sending tea buyers to exotic countries, only to have them return home because they couldn't handle the living conditions. As such, Lipton decided instead to actively recruit military officers who were used to living in unstable, developing countries. They would train them in tea tasting, in the hopes that these experienced officers could better cope with working in the challenging environments where tea was most often grown.
At the time, Andy was working as a military advisor in Nigeria, a country that certainly fit the bill in terms of challenging conditions. "It was quite tough... they were looking for people like me who were used to living with no electricity and running water," Andy recalls. "Even today, I still know a lot of people working in tea who used to be British army officers."
It was this program that served as the bridge for Andy's transition into tea, which eventually led to coffee and to his current position as the owner of Belaroma coffee. From his first posting with Lipton in Sri Lanka, Andy travelled the world tasting teas in countries including China, Vietnam and India, until he eventually found himself running a tea business in Indonesia. When the Indonesian government lifted the ban on foreign ownership of coffee companies in 1987, Unilever approached him to start seeking out coffee.
"They said, 'If you can taste tea, you can taste coffee, right?'" he recounts. The transition, however, was more challenging than they let on, as Andy notes that tea's characteristics as a crop require an entirely different buying approach. With tea, he notes, 75 to 80 per cent is sold in auction. To purchase a tea, you taste it a few weeks in advance at the estate and then bid on 1 to 3 tonne lots. As tea is picked regularly, the conditions at the estate can change the value of the tea from week to week, as the taste can vary greatly. "It's really very buzzy," Andy says. "You need to do quick mental calculations as you bid."
Comparatively, the price of coffee isn't so much dictated by taste as it is by market conditions, as it is sold primarily as a commodity. "With tea you can't do that, the taste changes every week depending on the conditions," he notes.
As Andy grew to understand these differences and master his approach to buying coffee, he soon found himself running the Indonesian side of the Robert Timms Coffee company, which at the time was one of Australia's largest coffee importers. From there, Andy decided to purchase his own business to settle in Australia. This was when he came across Belaroma coffee. The company was struggling at the time, and Andy had just about walked away from the deal when the owner had little choice but to strongly reconsider Andy's offer.
"I had said to him that the next time we talked, he'd be bankrupt," Andy notes. He was right. In April of 2000 the company was trading insolvent - a deal was made and Andy got to work. He had to borrow money to pay the staff; his wife gave her car to their only salesperson; and he bargained with suppliers to hold off on payments.
These challenges aside, Andy was eager to get into the coffee business. "I had developed a passion for coffee at that stage, I think it's just such a wonderful product to be involved in," he says.
While originally just a roastery, three years ago Andy opened a café at Belaroma's operations in Manly Vale. Andy notes that the venture was a great learning experience for him to walk in their customer's shoes. "One thing we've learned is that with business, it's a lot about the people," he says. "If you're able to get good people on your side, life gets much easier."
In addition to reinforcing the lessons of having great staff, through their experience in running their own café, the company has also gained valuable experience in getting systems and processes in place, which they can then pass along to their customers.
The café has become a favourite destination for local coffee lovers, as they sell around 70 to 90 kilograms a week of coffee, and Andy is looking to put in another coffee station to serve growing demand. They've even had to rebuild the car park to accommodate swelling weekend crowds.
Andy has further increased his knowledge of life behind the machine in hiring two-time Australia Barista Champion Scottie Callaghan as the company's brand ambassador. Similar to what Andy has learned in his business, he says he shares with Scottie a belief that a positive personality is key.
"When we first met, I asked him what he didn't like about working in coffee, and he said the only thing that bothered him was the occasional bad attitude," he says. "From then on, I knew we were kindred spirits." With Scottie and the dozens of other staff that he employs, Andy's approach seems to be working, as Belaroma has quickly turned around from a the brink of bankruptcy into a thriving enterprise. In addition to turning Belaroma around, Andy has also worked his magic on another operation that was approaching as unfortunate state - the mobile coffee franchise operation Café2U.
Andy came across the business in 2004. At the time the business catered to a group of baristas, mostly surfers, who were driving around the vans selling good cups of coffee in areas without access to cafés. "They were doing the same volume of business any small café would do, except they were finishing at 2pm in the afternoon and going surfing," he says.
While the owner of the business-model at the time was loving the lifestyle, he had little business acumen and handed the reigns over the Andy. After a year of sorting out Café2U's finances, Andy started franchising out the coffee vans to prospective business owners looking for a flexible lifestyle, limited investment and reasonable returns.
Andy's efforts quickly paid off. For the last three years, the company has been listed as one of Australia's fastest growing franchises in the last three years, with over 120 franchise owners in the country. Andy has expanded the business internationally, with approximately 55 franchise owners in the United Kingdom and Ireland. At time of writing he was negotiating with an American partner to bring the franchise to the United States.
Andy sees particularly impressive potential in the United States, where Americans are just starting to get a taste for quality coffee. "Business is like surfing- you need to start paddling into the wave before it arrives," he says.
From travelling vans to a struggling roasting company, after turning two companies around in just over a decade Andy says he's learned about a lot more than just coffee beans in his time in the industry. With everything he's done, he reinforces that success so often comes down to the right people. "You need to find people that are brighter and better than you to work with," he says.

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