Interview with Karlee: Our new STOKA Head Roaster and Co-owner
Today we’re sitting down and having a chat with Karlee for the first time since the change of ownership.
It’s no exaggeration that Karlee started working with Salute and Kirby the whole period of 2019 to the start of the year, but some of the regulars at Salute may have noticed that she is not in the café as often as before.
To explain why, and how her career has progressed in the Laneway hub, we sat down with the bubbly personality and had a lovely chat with her.
Can’t believe it’s been three years since you were working at Salute CBD. How are you doing and what’s your current gig at STOKA?
I know. Time has definitely sped up this year. I had such a great time working at Salute with Kirby and the team in town. I’ve watched it grow into such a cool little hangout that locals know for quality coffee and a good yarn at the start of the day. At the beginning of the year Kirby and I got talking about the future and what she had been thinking, and it involved selling half of her business so the opportunity for my husband and I to buy the Roastery was presented to us. We officially took over the business three months ago.
I’ve been roasting now for a few years here at STOKA, so I’ve mainly been concentrating on logistics of online orders and roasting for our awesome wholesale partners. There's a lot of moving parts to this and we’re slowly getting our heads around every detail.
What does your position entail?
It's a different game to working as a barista and the technicalities involving day-to-day operations of a café. It was difficult working the hours that I did after a while, and quite demanding. It requires full attention to detail, which can be draining. I’d like to implement strategies and consult with clients and baristas that make sure our product is being treated with a level of respect that it deserves. We put a lot of time into the science of roasting beans that have been imported from around the world. I’ve worked in managerial and administrative positions for Coffee Club Brisbane airport where I was in-charge of high-turnover environments. Occasionally I would jump in and help behind the machine. I still love working as a barista as it keeps myself up to date in terms of what’s happening in cafes and the latest trends in equipment and products.
I’m currently roasting and researching profiles of different variations of beans that we get into the shop. It’s extremely important that our beans go through consistent methodology of temperature and time. This is at the heart of STOKA coffee. A product that everyone loves and appreciates. If your palate is attuned for more robust flavour profiles, we have a blend to suit. We also take time to look for new and exciting Single Origin’s from around the globe that we want to showcase looking forward into the new year. We have a duty at STOKA to help our area understand different ways of drinking coffee and well as finding a profile that resonates with them.
Roasteries are busy places, I hope you have a helpful helper.
As I pointed out before my husband gets in the truck once a week and hoons around town delivering boxes. Hahah. Jokes aside, He’s been extremely supportive of the change over and has done a monumental effort establishing a new identity for the brand. In between his second job as a History teacher at a local High School, he’s put his creative industries degree to good use and take on a creative director/client relations/socials role/surf buddy role. He’s worked in creative advertising agencies and media prior to both of us moving back home to Coffs Harbour, and with what time he spends at the roastery, it’s usually done within a creative and general hand type role for him. For the meantime, he’s put his hand up for learning the technical side of the business for problems that can arise over time.
What are your plans for STOKA and what are your plans for it?
I still love getting behind the machine once and a while. Without customers coffee doesn’t exist as they are the gel that hold that connection between roast to cup. As a business we cannot disregard this aspect.
But now I want to concentrate on the small things like building a specific profile with the area and building lasting connections with people that make STOKA what it is today. First and foremost, we're a company that is dedicated to providing impeccable customer service and introducing exciting and creative roasts that people in our area will enjoy.