Roaster Joe’s Q&A – Interview for “” – English translation

Q: Why you choose coffee & tea business?

J: By profession, I am a Chemical Engineer, specialized in design & construction of large food production facilities for large multinationals for the first 25 years of my career. My passion was and still is, wanting to use technology to enhance natural ingredients in order to make better quality and healthier food products. The usual way in mass production is to adulterate the raw materials to make cheaper products with easier production processes. I believe technology and packaging should be used to enhance the natural goodness and flavor of the ingredients and shelf life of the product. It is essential to buy fresh high quality ingredients and spend more money and time developing better production processes to make a better quality products. In the food industry my passion is sometimes called “on-farm production”, this is where higher value and higher quality products are produced close to the farm where the ingredients grown and then sent straight to consumer. It is about making products that offer convenience for the customer and never compromising on quality. We believe there is a sizable niche market for these sorts of products today.

After a couple of years of part time research, In 2007, I started Quintino’s coffee & tea because I saw an opportunity in Indonesia, to add value to the arabica coffee that was grown here. This arabica 15 years ago was essentially unknown and under valued. I added a few technical innovations along the way such as the Qbags drip coffee bags, our tea and Qfresh our proprietary freshness system. All designed to enhance freshness, the healthy ingredients and flavor.

Q: What kind of coffee & tea do you use? What is the specialty? And where you get it from?

J: For coffee – I am a big fan of Lake Toba Sumatran Mandheling, it’s quite unique and at its best it is fruity with a good body and low acid, it is definitely unique. However, it is hard to get good quality and clean lots consistently. I am also a huge fan of Aceh Gayo for the same reasons, less fruity but it has a stronger body and chocolately notes. I love Sumatrans for filter coffees but for espresso I like darker blends which feature the old fashion Basah Guling process Flores beans for nuttiness and great body.

For tea – I only drink our tea because we get it fresh from a large and very special plantation here in West Java. It is one of the last major plantations that continues to use traditional handpicking methods which is where the quality of the tea begins and ends. Yes it is more expensive to buy but the quality is outstanding. Today’s tea industry demands such low prices that most major plantations now use mechanical shears to save money at the expense of quality.

I actually stopped drink tea 35 years ago because it just started to taste bitter to me. I grew up with delicious pots of tea made at the homes of my English friends in Australia. By the time I was 20, tea bags using tea dust had become the norm, even though the taste was ordinary and bitter.

At Quintino’s we only use premium grade BP1 hand picked tea inside our tea bags. This premium grade of tea has a much large granule size than the dust usually used in tea bags. We use the same grade loose leaf tea that was used in tea pots 35 years ago in our tea bags. Over the years manufacturers have ground the tea finer for easier extraction with the bonus of using much less tea to make a tea bag. The downside of finer grinding is an increase in the bitterness of the cup of tea. At Quintino’s we simply add much more tea to our tea bags to compensate in the extraction, which gives a much cleaner and flavorful cup of English breakfast tea.

Q: Do you use any special method to produce your quality product?

J: No. Because we stay with the traditional coffee processing (basah guling), we believe the farmers know how to grow & process coffee beans to their highest value because they have been doing it for 300 years already. We don’t want to change traditional processing methods or the way farmers grow coffee fruit.

However the issue we did find is that there are many 1,000’s of small holder farmers who process the fruit to dried green beans all a little bit differently and hence inconsistencies appear. Over many years, we developed our Farmer Direct supply chain, where farmers do what they are best at, growing the fruit. They deliver either coffee fruit (cherry) or wet parchment to our facilities and staff in the growing regions. Then we do what we do best with our know-how, and process the coffee fruit or parchment through to graded green beans ready for roasting.

Our Farmer Direct system that we have been implementing since 2012, improves the consistency and quality of the whole batch, and hence adds value to the green beans. I personally think it is the future of the premium coffee industry around the world, with roasters partnering directly with growers and traders within the growing regions.

The additional value of Farmer Direct is that it can offer the customer 100% genuine traceability of the coffee and fresh green beans. The freshness of the green beans at the time of roasting is hugely important to the final flavor and to ensure the taste is true to the character of the coffee. Like any food product, the flavor of green coffee beans changes and fades as it ages, especialy after 6 months. Yes, green coffee beans do age and deteriorate. Some roasters roast specialty beans that could be as old as 2 or more years after harvest.

At Quintino’s we also add a little technology with our proprietary Qfresh packaging system to lock in the freshness of the coffee after roasting and extend the shelf life of our products by preventing the effects of staling. 

Q: What is excellent about Quintino’s products?

J: We spent many years when we first started in the growing regions of Indonesia, learning what is the best way to get a high quality fresh coffee beans to our roast house. We even set up our own green bean grading system here in Jakarta. This knowhow is part of our farmer direct system, it gives us a major advantage above nearly all other roasters, locally or in other parts of the world that are buying Indonesian commodity coffee through traders. Green bean coffee quality is our advantage.

Q: What is your best seller?

J: So far we find lot of our customers enjoy the medium roast coffees, our Sumatran is always very popular, it has fruity notes & good body. This is my personal favorite.

There are also customers who like single origins, roasted a little darker, bolder and with earthy notes such as Toraja. For espresso I like the dark “full city” roast, it brings out the sweetness, body and the chocolaty notes, you need the dark roast to do that.

All customers have their own unique taste, some like dark, some like medium. But all good coffee should have a clean after taste & be free at any nasty flavors. Often times I see expensive single origin coffees that are not very good, with lot of talk going on while they are being served. I think customers should trust their own tongue, it either tastes good for you or it does not. Good coffee should taste good to anyone. You may prefer a less acidic coffee or a bigger bodied stronger coffee, or even a light pour over coffee instead of a stronger espresso. It is a personal preference and it is your style. But there is no excuse for a nasty taste.

Third wave light roasted coffee (known as cinnamon roast), is not my favorite but I understand the younger generation like it. It is lighter tasting, more fruity and acidic and works very well as a double shot in a cappuccino. They are very acidic because they don’t have much time in the roasting process to develop the stronger roasted flavors of the beans and to caramelize the sugars inside the beans. The bottom line, coffee taste is a personal matter, but please use good quality beans in third wave roasting, as any bean defect will stand out.  No amount of talking can make bad coffee taste good.

Q: How do you do your marketing?

J: We have done a lot of exports since 2007, to many countries around the world but only for one or two pallets. We have many loyal customers spread around the world, sometimes we just send few cartons for their personal use at home. Usually these customers have tried Quintino’s while working and holidaying in Indonesia. We mainly sell in supermarkets in Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali. Currently we do have some small distribution in Netherlands, and hopefully soon in Riyadh Saudi Arabia & China .

Q: Is there any new product or innovation in future from Quintinos?

J: Stay tune next month, something new in home coffee brewing is coming from Quintino’s. Don’t want to say much about it right now, as too many of our competitors are watching. We would like to be the first on the supermarket shelves with it and have it exclusive for at least a month or two before they all start copying.

 Edited from BP Guide :