Byron Bay is synonymous with successful start-ups that have changed the face of their industries. You only have to look at Stone and Wood, TripADeal and Enova Energy as recent examples. The latest success story to come out of the bay is Byron Beverage Co. Founded by siblings Emma, Tom and Sam Bridge, they’ve reshaped the coffee market with Australia’s first organic nitrogen infused cold brew coffee in a can.
We caught up with co-founder, Emma, to find out more about their coffee, how they’ve been impacted by COVID-19 and why she wouldn’t want to grow their business from anywhere else than Byron Bay.
Hi Emma, can you tell us the story of Byron Beverage and how you began?
My brothers, Sam, Tom and I started the business in 2017. The idea came about through Tom making a cold brew coffee at home just for fun. His friends tried it and loved it so much they kept returning to his house for more! To make it viable as a business, my brothers built a kegerator. It’s a system which provides nitro coffee on tap, which we’ve been able to sell to cafes and shops on the East Coast.
As we grew, we thought about how we could distribute our cold brew coffee around Australia. That’s when we thought ‘let’s put it in a can’ – one which is 100 per cent recyclable. That’s pretty much how it started!
How has business been going?
Really well overall, online orders have probably saved us. Before COVID-19, we had a lot of exciting opportunities with airlines and other distributors. But as the pandemic developed, those initial openings have been put on hold, and we’ve evolved into selling our coffee online. We’re sending our product to every corner of Australia, which is incredible, and we’re really thankful for the support we’re getting.
You’re Australia’s first organic nitrogen infused coffee brew, what does that mean?
Our cold brew coffee is never heated or treated. It’s premium certified organic, single origin and fairtrade, which means we use the highest quality organic coffee we can get, and it’s chemical free. There’s nothing going into your body that will inhibit your ability to extract the benefits of the cold brew coffee. We use local filtered spring water and the cold brewing process is 70 per cent less acidic than hot coffee, so it’s easier on digestion.
A lot of athletes and personal trainers I’ve spoken to see our coffee as a clean energy drink – which we know it is – but it’s just good to hear that professionals in the health and fitness industry see it as a pre-work out drink. It’s great feedback for us.
Emma’s tips for new businesses
For me it’s about ‘vision and feeling’. When I was first selling our coffee, I had to visualise it. If you’re looking to start a business, ‘feel your product’ and work out where it should be in the market.
Whatever your product is, have a reason for doing it, so you’re proud of what you’re putting out into the world. Don’t try to be anything that you’re not, just stay true to who you are and go for it.
Can you tell us about the coffee bean you use?
The coffee bean we use is from Ethiopia and it’s a fair trade, Arabica coffee bean. We chose that bean for its ability to be cold brewed. We tried and tested a number of different beans over a year, before we found the right one – it is a delicious tasting single origin coffee bean with aromas of berry and chocolate. When you infuse it with nitrogen, it amplifies the flavours and provides this gentle sweetness, with a clean smooth finish. We also utilise a local roaster, who’s been roasting beans for over 25 years in the local area – he’s amazing at what he does. Roasting coffee beans is a very specialised area, so we go to the master for that.
What is it about this region and Byron Bay that you love?
What’s not to love! No matter what we’re doing, we’re always surrounded by nature. For me, nature is so important. Tom’s a farmer, and we’ve all grown up in a rural environment. We love the space and the beaches. On and off we’ve been based in this area, and we keep coming back because it feels like home. Even though it gets busy in the holidays and during the summer, it still has the impression of a small country town. We pinch ourselves every day that we get to build our business in Byron Bay and use local ingredients whilst supporting other small businesses. Byron instils wellbeing and we love being a part of that.
What do you enjoy about being a Summerland business customer?
My brother, Tom has been a customer with you guys for a long time, and when we started Byron Beverage Company we came straight to Summerland, based off the great support he’d had previously.
I love the staff at the Bangalow branch. They’re just so lovely and friendly. I find it easy to drop into the branch and ask a quick question or call up and get a quick answer on our business account. The best way I could describe banking with Summerland is it feels like a family.