The term ‘ethically sourced’ is often used by businesses as more of a branding device than an actual practice. But Sample is striving for total transparency so customers can see their ethical processes, from farm to keep cup.
By midday Friday only a handful of pastries remain in the small display, and a few newspapers lie scattered across the polished wooden bench. The morning rush is over at Sample but owner Reuben stays behind the counter, as the steady stream of pilgrims will continue well into the afternoon.
Reuben Mardan worked for Single Origin and Mecca before deciding to open his own coffee shop. A favourite among Devonshire-dwellers, Sample opened seven years ago and is now one of Sydney’s most loved coffee roasters.
From Colombia to Ecuador to Kenya, the majority of coffee producers Sample partners with are either family-run businesses or small co-operatives, with eyes towards sustainable farming and education.
“What we’re trying to work towards is total transparency – from what the farmers get paid, to what the importers get out of it, to the price we buy and then sell the coffee for,” says Reuben.
Beyond their shopfronts in Surry Hills and St Peters, Sample offers a coffee delivery and subscription service, whereby subscribers can get a single origin coffee from a range of farms delivered to their doorstep either fortnightly or monthly.
There’s a story behind each coffee at Sample, from working with not-for-profits on the ground in Kenya, to discovering the potential of Ecuadorian beans.
“It’s definitely a creative outlet for us,” says Reuben. “Discovering interesting coffees, creating new relationships with farmers and strengthening the old ones.”