Owner Steve Fulton has gone from selling push-button coffee machines to pushing the boundaries for local coffee roasting.
Introducing SOHO Coffee Roasters
“We’ve been selling coffee in South Australia now for about 11 or 12 years all up,” Steve Fulton says, as he tours CityMag through SOHO, his new roastery and café on Addie Place.
SOHO Coffee Roasters’ café is located at 223 Morphett Street, entrance through Addie Place, and is open Monday to Friday 7am-2pm and Saturday 7am-12pm.
“Eleven years ago we started out only selling automatic coffee machines… and that was what we specialised in back then. It’s not what we’re proud of, but that’s how we started in the coffee industry.”
But now, an impressive looking roaster sits in the middle of the warehouse space – a Phantom 22-kilo roaster, the first off the line in a collaboration between Coffee Roasters Australia and Griffith University engineering department – signifying how far Steve’s business has come.
He’s watched as attitudes toward coffee have moved away from considering a push-button service station coffee as an acceptable 3pm pick-me-up, and has kept his umbrella company, Australian Coffee Distributors, on-trend by pivoting toward the multi-group espresso machines we’re now accustomed to seeing in independent cafés and On The Runs alike.
With SOHO, his next move is a play for real estate in the wholesale premium coffee space, bringing former head roaster from Brisbane’s Bear Bones Specialty Coffee, Jacob Booth, to Adelaide to create a signature range of roasts. The pair hope the SOHO range will give South Australian cafés a local option.
“All the really good cafés in South Australia are currently using Melbourne coffee supply, which is crazy because it’s all about having a local product, being involved with the roaster and getting the product that you want, and that’s what we think we can bring to the table now with what we’re doing,” Steve says.
“[Adelaide’s coffee scene] has a lot going for it [but] they’re still quite a bit in the grip of the bigger guys, in terms of your Vittorias, your Lavazzas, which makes me quite excited, because it’s a challenge. I love a good challenge,” Jacob says.
“We just want to bring about change, you know? We want to come in and set the new standard and be the new standard… We want to come in and do it properly and do it well, and make it obvious to people why our [product] is better.”
On the café side of the business, SOHO will operate from 7am until 2pm, Monday to Friday, and 7am until midday on Saturday, but the shop has been designed to be more than just a café.
“Everything that’s set up in here will be our flagship training centre, so when we bring [retail] customers on, then we can bring them in here to give people the vision of how to run a café and what’s the best possible operation,” Steve says.
“Part of that is we’ve headhunted the best baristas in South Australia… Heading up our café is Georgina Lum, she was Australian Aeropress Champion, she’s got multiple awards, she went to Dublin with an acquaintance of mine to compete in the world barista championships, and when we said we were doing this, [my acquaintance] said Georgina Lum, that’s who you should have.
“She has a passion to [constantly improve], and we think that we can create that pathway, not just for her, but for a lot of baristas.”
If Steve has his way, SOHO won’t just be your new favourite coffee spot, it’ll be where your favourite café got their beans, and where your favourite barista got their chops.