Eugene Phua & John Ronchi

23 November 2009,

Eugene Phua & John Ronchi

Age: 32
Business Est: 2007
Number of staff: 30
Growth: 22 per cent
Turnover: $2.56 million

LESS than two years since Campos Coffee Queensland set up shop in the Sunshine State, the coffee wholesaler not only services 50 outlets, but its base in Fortitude Valley was also voted Australia’s best cafe.

Eugene Phua is no stranger to cafes having run two of his own since 2003 — an espresso bar attached to the Mill Pharmacy he runs with his wife in Spring Hill, as well as Naked Coffee in the Elizabeth Street Arcade.

It was through this work that he met coffee supplier John Ronchi and after great success using Campos Coffee products – originally from Sydney – the pair were given the opportunity to have the Queensland distributorship licence.

Phua espouses a great appreciation for the product he sells, along with a marketing model based on the premise that no two cafes within a 15 minute walk of each other will show the Campos logo.

“There’s no use in us servicing five cafes on the one street – we want stores that sell Campos to be a real destination,” he says.

“The way we roast is very different – we roast each type of bean separately and then blend them afterwards in a laboratory cement mixer. Why do this? It’s like cooking potatoes in a pot. Each one requires a different time and heat to get the full potential flavour out of it.

“Most coffee makers use pre-blended coffee beans.”

The company makes sure that anyone using its grind must also brew the coffee using La Marzocco espresso machines from Florence.

It is this level of perfectionism that likely led to its Fortitude Valley cafe’s title as Australia’s best coffee shop, voted by the viewers in the Lifestyle Channel’s ‘I Love Food Awards’.

But the majority of business comes from the distribution itself, rather than the café.

“When we supply to cafes people think that we’ve opened another cafe, but it’s not actually us – we try and build on the MacDonald’s model, like how a cheeseburger tastes the same wherever you go, that’s what we want with our coffee.”

“We’ve had very steady growth to the point where John and myself really can’t complain – the retail side has really taken off.”

Phua is optimistic about Campos’ future, but he is concerned about the upcoming introduction of new award systems for Sunday loading, which will cause problems for the entire industry.

“At a cafe how can Sunday staff get $35 an hour? For small business this will be tough,” he says.






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