Floozy founder, Kmac on bringing loads of joy, and small talk, into specialty coffee.
When the doors reopened to Floozy HQ’s (formerly Besties) on King Street, in December 2022, there was a sigh of relief from regulars. Keen to get back into the cafe to get their hit from the source, and pick up on those lovely coffee conversations.
Kristy Mujana (aka Kmac) is one half of the duo behind the Floozy brand and a trail blazer in the coffee roasting world. Bursting onto the scene in 2017, Kmac together with her partner Hal, have created a niche coffee business and product that has tackled head first some of the stereotypes associated with the barista and roasting industry.
Catching up for our International Women's Day Series at the refreshed Floozy HQ’s, Kmac shared her love of coffee and hospitality, and how she is going about making changes within the industry. Here’s our chat...
You launched Floozy in 2017, have you always worked in the coffee world?
I feel like you fall into coffee, most of the people I know who have made long term careers from coffee never expected it to happen, and we all come from really random places.
I was working at a craft beer pub in Surry Hills, which had all different styles of beers on tap and I really enjoyed that rotating change, and things always being different. I also enjoyed dealing with the brewers as well as the hospitality aspect to it.
What is it about hospitality you enjoy so much?
Not everyone does, but I really love talking about the weather.I actually really enjoy small talk, which is what I missed during Covid, the 50 small interactions every single day. So I always knew I would be in hospitality, the interest in coffee happened when my partner Hal, who had been working in speciality coffee for a long time, and I returned to Newcastle and I said to Hal ‘I love hospitality and I’d love to have my own business so why don’t we use your coffee skills and start something small.’
So my first foray into coffee was owning a cafe, Esther C in Merewether (now Frothers Espresso), and I had to very quickly learn to be a barista because it was only the two of us to begin with.
How did the name Floozy come about?
I had quite a few experiences at the cafe where customers would come in asking to speak to the owner, or talk to Hal, and completely disregarded my experience.
So when I was trying to name the business I literally Googled, ‘bad names for women’ and made a list of the ones I liked.
It was hard to name the business, particularly when you have the goal of wanting to create an inclusive business, but one that has a very women centric word associated with it. It could have been confusing, however, I feel Floozy is a good representation of how I feel about the community, which is, anyone can be a floozy, men can be floozies, why does this word specifically exist to make women feel bad.
This also relates to the specialty coffee industry, in that if you enjoy coffee, enjoy it the way you want to enjoy it. We won’t laugh if you want decaf or a caramel latte, if you enjoy those coffees you shouldn’t have to drink a lower quality or less ethical coffee.
Can you disclose the other names you were deciding between?
Harlot was a strong contender, but there was something about Floozy, visually as a word it’s really fun. It’s got a lot of good laughs out of people as well, and that’s what we want, to bring a little bit more joy into specialty coffee, which can get so serious, so quickly.
At the end of the day, having people come in to buy coffee is a really nice part of their day and that’s the type of environment we wanted to create. It’s often the case that you see your barista more than your family, and your customers come in and announce their news like they’re pregnant or engaged, which is so beautiful. It’s the hospitality part of hospitality and this can be lost when we get really serious.
I come to work to have fun, but I want the coffee to be really serious so I do a lot of that behind the scenes and then make it approachable for people, which seems to be working for us.
One of the reasons you began roasting was because it was such a male dominated industry and you wanted to break that up, why do you think that’s the case?
What I noticed when I first started working in coffee, which has changed a lot since but still exists, is that stereotypical barista. The beard, flanno and you expect to see that hipster barista behind the bar and he’ll make a good coffee.
The specialty coffee community could be quite standoffish, and at the time there wasn’t a lot of women roasters, the usual career progression is barista, head barista, roaster assistant, roaster and it’s like any industry, if you don’t have women in those roles, it’s harder get to that position.
I had the opportunity to start roasting single origin coffee for our cafe, and the goal was always to have the specialty products, but the values are, everyone’s welcome.
When you first started roasting did you find other roasters were supportive?
Some roasters were supportive, but there were those who were standoffish, which I felt was because I posted myself on Instagram as the roaster, and there was a feeling that I was using me being a women to promote the business, yet they were posting photos of themselves as the roasters, and that was confronting to them that we were both doing the same thing.
There was the other side of it though, and those who thought it was refreshing, and there were a bunch of small businesses who were really helpful and welcoming, and that’s why I am in it, for being around good people and being supported.
Do you think the balance has shifted since you started?
I’ve seen more women get into roasting, particularly the competitive scene. An Australian woman won the world Aeropress championships in 2022, and people are feeling more comfortable putting themselves out there now.
It’s also a by-product of social media, the good side of social media where you find your people and they become your cheer squad. When questions come about, like ‘how do I approach my boss about getting paid the same as the dudes’ there is a group of people there to coach you through it, which helps you feel like you’re not alone.
Being able to connect with someone who’s gone through the same experiences as you, who doesn’t question, or say ‘don’t worry about it, they didn’t mean it like that’. Instead it’s yep, I’ve experienced that too, let’s talk about how to get through it.
The building of that online community is what’s helped make that change happen from then to now.
One of your aims is to increase women's representation and diversity in positions of power within the coffee roasting industry. Can you tell me more about what this means and how you go about doing this?
I feel that supporting women in positions in power doesn’t just include those in a cafe, it includes buying coffee from producers who are women, who are farmers and it goes all the way through the supply chain, from the farmer to us, which is easier to do if you work with the right people and pay a good amount of money.
We are more than happy to spend the money on a good green coffee product, both Hal and I believe the more you pay, the happier the person who’s producing it is, the better the product is going to be.
We’ve worked with some of our producers for years, like Sonia Imachi who is a Columbian producer. We’ll often buy all of her harvest, no matter what the quality level has been like that year, we’ll find a place for it in the business which gives her confidence.
When coffee prices skyrocketed last year we made the decision to not source cheaper coffee, we wanted to continue supporting our suppliers through these price rises, which cut into our margins, but I don’t want to say to them I am going somewhere else. Which is a similar situation to when customers continue coming to their local cafe when prices go up a $1, it’s just making sure those values move all the way along the supply chain.
From the outside you appear to be a very female-led business, what’s your thoughts on diversity within the industry and within your own business?
I think you need diversity within the workplace and show your values. Working alongside Hal has made him aware of how different the experience has been for me compared to his experience within the industry, and he’s really growing and doing the work to de-program himself.
What I’ve learnt over time is that, it’s not as simple as saying ‘what I am going to do is hire all women’, and that’s how I am going to run my business, because that’s not women in positions of power. I want to be a good example of a woman in a position of power and hire fairly, pay fairly, have a good workplace and just do my best.
The struggle is that you constantly feel like you’re doing your best, and then something happens and you realise your best isn’t good enough, but all you can do is get through it, and it’s ok to cry.
What does the Floozy team look like now?
There’s me and Hal, Paris, Lucy and Jess does our socials. Lucy has been on and off since she was 16 and she’ll be 20 this year, it’s good to have people around long term. We’re really supportive of one another, and we’re all a team working towards the same goal.
We try our best to create roles that are good for people’s life, a good work-life balance, and because we have the wholesale business we’re lucky we can provide that Monday to Friday offering, and we hope to be able to grow the business in that way.
Do you have plans for the future?
Re-opening Floozy HQ’s was such a big thing, and now it’s done I have some breathing space, so my plan is to have the back roasting space in a position to invite people in and learn about roasting. Roasting jobs are so rare that you almost never get the opportunity to be a part of it, so to let people come through and check it out would be great, as well as have more people around to talk about the weather [laughs].