Coffee king on a winner
FEW PEOPLE on the Northern Rivers know as much about local coffee from the field to the cup as Nat Byron, who at 29 has built a regional coffee empire based in Alstonville.
Growing up on his dad's coffee hobby farm at Newrybar, the bean got into his blood and now he buys coffee from several Northern Rivers growers, harvests the beans with his own machinery and roasts them in his own roasting machine at Alstonville.
He markets the roasted beans, which are 100% Northern Rivers-grown, under the name Nat's Coffee and has won bronze, silver and gold awards at the Golden Bean Championship - the biggest coffee-roasting competition in the Southern Hemisphere.
Through courses at local community colleges he also teaches baristas how to serve coffee.
"I also do advanced courses where I go to a cafe and evaluate how they could be selling more coffees each day, to keep their customers happy with good-tasting coffee," Mr Byron told The Northern Star.
"I teach them Latte Art!"
Asked what the consumer should look for in a cup of coffee at a cafe or restaurant, he stressed that coffee was a truly individual experience.
"People's tastes are so far from being the same," he said.
"Some like a sweeter style with a higher acid content, while others like their coffee more robust.
"They should be looking for the flavours that please their particular palate.
"And they should be looking for quality. If they're not paying much for it, it won't have come from a high-grade green bean and they won't be getting boutique flavours.
"They'd be better off spending more and getting something they can really enjoy."
Describing Northern Rivers beans as having a "clean, earthy and grassy" quality, Mr Byron admits to drinking 10-20 cups of coffee a day and loving it.
"I'm pretty healthy, I eat well and train a lot," he said. "There are always things we love that would be best in moderation!"