The experts bringing Gympie's Nestle coffee to millions
IN A tiny upstairs laboratory on the outskirts of Gympie, an elite band of experts make decisions that affect the lives of millions.
Their sensitive palates determine the future of an industry that pumps $20 million into the Gympie economy every year.
Their job is to assess the quality of more than $1 million worth of coffee beans that arrive at the Nestle factory in Pine St every day.
In beans and ground coffee (Andronicus and Buondi brands), Nescafe Blend 43, Nescafe Espresso and International Roast, the factory produces the makings of a million cups of coffee an hour.
Raw material, green coffee beans, arrive by the shipping container (four a day).
Depending on the grade they can contain anything from $250,000 to $500,000 worth of beans.
And every batch is tested by people like laboratory tasters Lindsay Dickfos, Denis Hanlon and operational buyer Adrienne Bell.
If it fails to meet required standards it goes back to the supplier, at the supplier's expense.
For a company that tries to build good reliable relationships with its international suppliers and which also has responsibility for customer satisfaction and a heap of Gympie jobs, the judges carry a heavy load of responsibility.
Yesterday, the judges were joined by production operator Kent Bell and factory manager Andrew Younger.
Mr Hanlon is approaching 40 years with the company, having started in 1976 when it was still a powdered milk factory, before the conversion to instant coffee in 1986.
Mr Dickfos is a relative newcomer, having started in 1978.
Mr Younger worked with Nestle in Western Australia and New South Wales before coming to Gympie.
Mr Bell was in the timber industry at various locations before joining the coffee company about eight years ago.
His daughter Adrienne started as a casual in 2009, and already has responsibility for negotiating with suppliers all over the world.
"We rely on imported beans. The entire Australian crop would only last us a few days.
"We have right of refusal if they do not pass the test," Mr Younger said.