The coffee roasters who deal in people more than coffee
Typically when you chat to the owner of a coffee roasting business the conversation quickly turns technical and info freely flows about the molecular structure of a coffee bean, optimal brewing temperatures etc etc. Not so the case with James Conway, owner of Glitch Coffee Roasters.
On entering the Glitch roasting warehouse in Mayfield there are some quirky things going on which provides some insight into those behind the business. Starting with the basketball hoop/meeting room, the massive great white sharks head that sits above the lunch table, almost clinical--like coffee roasting facilities and slick industrial style fit-out that has you feeling as though you’ve stumbled across one very cool, underground café.
Starting out in 2017 at Steel River, Glitch quickly outgrew its then premises, and for those who remember Glitch from the early days, you may or may not be aware that things are running quite differently these days as James explains,
“When I started Glitch I’d never worked with coffee, I loved it but I had come from a retail background (James owned the shoe store Pure Performance) so I brought in a business partner to manage the roasting side of things."
"When that partnership ended I needed to bring a team of people together who are the best at what they do.”
Today that super experienced team consists of Luke who is the all-arounder, he can literally do everything and has been with Glitch from the very beginning. Al is operations, Tristan (formerly Welsh Blacks) takes care of Business Development and Ben (of the Autumn Rooms) is head of the coffee program and has also spearheaded the “New Face” of Glitch.
There is also Head Roaster Nick, James of course who manages all things business, and last but definitely not least are the coffee technicians, Indie and Rod who James explains are as important to the business as the coffee itself.
When asked to sum up who and what Glitch is Tristan explained it perfectly as “we deal with people more than coffee”.
James added, “Glitch roasts coffee but we have also evolved into a full solution service, and that’s our major point of difference which has been quite disruptive in our industry.”
“The idea for this came out of a conversation we had with one of our clients who called us on a Sunday morning saying that their one and only coffee machine was having some major mechanical issues, and what we realised very early on was that being able to offer support for break downs and help businesses avoid that loss of trade was going to become a major part of our overall business.”
“It’s taken us two years to be in a position where we could acquire someone like Rodney, who has moved from Melbourne to take on the technician role, and I now live by that motto of ‘whatever it takes, we’ll look after them’. Being able to offer that full service has become really valuable to our clients.”
Throughout our conversation, the word dynamic frequently pops up and it seems that it’s this dynamism that is the secret to Glitch’s success.
“A big part of what we do is being hands-on with our clients so as to minimise their problems and make their life easier. We made the decision not to outsource any aspect of the business so the team handles everything from the roasting, to delivery, barista training, even going as far as to help clients plan out their business growth.”
“I definitely like to do things differently, it’s a little old school, which doesn’t work all the time but I feel good about it, and I think it wins out 90% of the time because it’s genuine,” says James.
Tristan further adds, “We also help our clients to keep things fresh and that energy going which is hard to do when you’re in the daily grind of running a small business. We provide that kick in the butt you sometimes need.”
When it comes time to chat about the coffee itself James happily admits that this is where Ben comes into the business.
“We hadn’t changed the flavor of Glitch coffee until I started working with Ben, and with Ben being so passionate about coffee and his experience with Proud Mary’s I was happy to leave that area of the business with him. I also left him in full control of our rebrand, he knows what I want and can articulate that which I am not very good at. We’re polar opposites, and we don’t necessarily agree on everything, but we get it to a place where it needs to go.”
James’ energy, fast-talking business smarts, and passion for the industry are intoxicating, so it was no surprise to hear that he and the team have some Bigg! projects in the works with all to be revealed in 2021, pending approvals of course, so stay tuned!