Bennetts - bringing you the world of coffee
While our new look has a contemporary design, it also has a timeless quality, influenced by
Bennetts are the green coffee experts bringing a world of experience to
generations of roasters. Every day we share our knowledge and coffee expertise
to support our partners to sustainably grow and prosper, and we’ve been
committed to this cause for over 100 years.
A century of coffee and tea, and the never-ending pursuit of the perfect cup,
has seen us touch on all points of the globe from – Brazil to Burundi – India to
Indonesia – resulting in the best of coffee being embodied in every Bennetts
bean. We care as much about sourcing as roasters care about their craft.
Shifts in consumption habits, new bean varieties, fluctuating prices and
developments in technology have brought ongoing challenges and opportunities
that Bennetts has capitalised on at every turn. We’ve never deviated from our
established values of Integrity, Respect, Excellence, Innovation and Education.
Underlying it all, the strength of the relationships we’ve built have spanned
generations and enabled us to consolidate a reputation in the international
coffee industry that is, quite simply, irreplicable.
To understand this fully – to see how we developed our ‘slurpadacious’
ambitions – it’s best to go right back to the beginning, one hundred years ago…
Origin is a word that holds special precedence in the coffee and tea industry. It refers
to the source, the place where the plants are grown and harvested from the soil; the
wellspring of everything that eventually ends up in the cup. For Bennetts, origin means
H.A. (Horace Albert) Bennett – the great-grandfather of the Bennett family – who
began as a sole tea, coffee and cocoa trader at the conclusion of the First World War.
When the Second World War hit, the Federal Government appointed him Australian
Tea and Coffee Controller, which gave H.A. the responsibility of negotiating the best
tea and coffee deals to fuel the war effort. With the arrival of US troops on Australian
soil, something extraordinary happened – coffee consumption doubled overnight –
the seeds (or should we say ‘beans’?) of the Australian caffeine craze were sown.
H.A. Bennett controlled the Australian tea and coffee industry until the 1950s, when
the pricing of leaves and beans opened onto the free market. In 1955, he too embraced
new corporatisation, with the establishment of H.A. Bennett and Sons Pty Limited
– the structure that exists today – putting its stake in the ground as an independent,
Australian family-owned business.
By the time of his passing in the 1960s, H.A. had schooled his six sons in his
incomparable tea and coffee intelligence, and Bennetts was ready to enter its next
phase in the second half of the twentieth century. In Australia, the tea and coffee
markets were both experiencing a shift, which the youngbloods at Bennetts recognised
and, accordingly, were ready to make their move.
William (Bill) – the youngest of the clan – struck up a professional friendship with
an iconic organisation that had just established their first Australian factory in
Liptons had something remarkable to offer, a new invention that would change tea
drinking forever – the teabag. As Liptons’ tea broker, Bennetts continued the legacy
in tea that H.A. had so ably built.
Simultaneously, Australia’s predilection for tea drinking was turning to coffee, thanks
to the high quality of instant coffee produced in Australia from Arabica beans grown
in Papua New Guinea. Bennetts’ coffee interests were growing and, by the time Bill’s
son, Scott, had reached the age of 19, his father had a proposition for him: Would you
like to go to Papua New Guinea and start learning the coffee trade?
The young Scott took up the proposal and, three years later, he returned to Australia
in 1986 with a wealth of coffee knowledge, having taken on a variety of responsibilities
for the largest coffee exporter in Papua New Guinea; running the warehouses, working
the mills and plantations, overseeing the quality control of the coffee as it arrived in
the warehouse, blending to meet export standards and developing a palate for the
subtleties of different coffees. Scott learnt to just look at a green bean and know how
it had been prepared. This placed him in a unique position that would help steer
Bennetts’ future: what his grandfather and father were to tea, Scott was to coffee.
In the mid to late 1980s, Scott drove a ute around Melbourne delivering green beans to
a handful of roasters. These roasters included Oasis (now Oasis Griffith), Cottle Coffee
and The Coffee Company, among other reputable industry names. The market may
have been small but their commitment to quality coffee was enviable. Off the back of
these pioneering roasters, a revolution was brewing.
The maturity of Bennetts’ coffee expertise could not have come at a better time.
The merging of Liptons and Bushells in 1988 witnessed a shift of management to the
Bushells camp and, effectively, halved Bennetts’ tea business. For any other company,
such a hit could have proved detrimental but Bennetts had another ace in hand:
Scott and his knowledge of coffee, which had been strategically growing alongside
Additionally, as Bennetts moved into the 1990s, a new Australian coffee culture was
taking hold. Partly powered by the announcement of the Sydney 2000 Olympics and
a boom in local business – especially tourism, cafes and restaurants – this swing
to coffee as the choice for discerning drinkers saw new roasters spring up almost
overnight. Bennetts was in the favourable position to connect the roaster to the world
of coffee, and consistently deliver the kind of customer care – a personal relationship,
not a transaction – that comes from generations of global trading experience. That’s
something money can’t buy.
For the first time in Bennetts’ company history, coffee surpassed tea. While tea still
runs through the company veins, coffee had well and truly taken a stronghold, and
there was no better organisation in Australia to champion the dawn of this new
generation than Bennetts.
Fortuitously, Bennetts embodies the values upon which Australia’s café society was
founded, which enabled Scott and his team to rise up as leaders. Reliable and traceable
supply chains from origin to roaster give Bennetts the transparency that a socially
conscious generation of Australian coffee purveyors crave. Bennetts is not just about
coffee excellence; Bennetts coffee expertise supports sustainable business.
This is where the emphasis on origin comes back into play. Bennetts has always
retained close contacts with origin producers – no matter where they are around the
globe – doing our best to ensure ethical and sustainable practices are continually
upheld at every step of a bean’s journey. From plantation to cup, a Bennetts bean
is perfected and nurtured with respect for humans and nature.
We are focused on growing together, not just with our roasters but also with our
suppliers at origin. By doing the right thing, we feel we can create coffee that is
consistently better and, what we term, ‘slurpadacious’, drawing from more than
a hundred years of global trading experience.
As the Bennetts coffee stronghold has grown, so has our offering. Today, we believe
we have one of the largest ranges of green beans designed to suit every quality need.
We’re proud to offer Fairtrade Certified Coffee produced under Fairtrade terms,
Organic Certified Coffee that also often bears the Fairtrade label, Rainforest Alliance
Coffee that invests in protecting precious rainforest resources, and Specialty Coffee
that sits at the premium end of the market requiring the unerring standards of
excellence from origin through to the cup.
The sustainability journey is one that never concludes, and we’re constantly looking
at ways to improve our company on many simultaneous fronts. One such example is
our Tiger Mountain Coffee that, for every bag of green coffee beans sold, we donate
US$1 to WildCats Conservation Alliance. We have also assisted supplying fresh water
to villages in Papua New Guinea, and through our current trading relationship with the
CENCOIC Cooperative in Colombia, we donate $1,000 USD back to the cooperative
for every container of coffee we purchase. Our donations are used to purchase field
equipment to assist the cooperative manage the quality of their coffee.
Whereas for many people, coffee is a way of life, for us, it is life. Fads may come and go
but coffee and tea are at the heart and soul of Bennetts – that’s our origin. With Scott’s
sons – H.A.’s great-grandsons – now learning the family trade, we’re looking forward
to taking coffee to the next level. That’s why Bennetts is the first-choice partner when
sourcing green coffee beans.
Bennetts – bringing you the world of coffee.
The Bennetts Team