Adelaide’s Coffee Roasters Go Toward the Light

A new wave in coffee roasting has seen Australian cuppas go from a bitter, puckering mouthful, to lightly toasted, sweet and floral. Roaster and co-owner at Dawn Patrol, Domonic Ossa, noticed the trend blooming in the east, and wanted more control when sourcing the beans for his café, SAD. This led him to open Dawn Patrol in 2014.

“Roasters like Market Lane have been going for the past 10 years with this style, and instead of having coffee shipped over from the east coast it made sense to start doing it locally,” says Ossa. “I wanted to cut down on transit but also create the best quality product with complete traceability so you can taste where the product you’re drinking comes from.”

Ossa’s Dawn Patrol in Kangarilla favours the lighter roast

With his partner, Nick Suggit, Ossa runs a successful wholesale business and accompanying cafés. SAD on Ebenezer and a small space at the roastery in Kangarilla.

The lighter style borrows trends from the Nordics, where black coffee is favoured. The sweeter, more acidic finish and reduced bitterness makes for a mild but complex drink.

“There’s no real difference or added complexity to the process, we just roast it enough to bring out the flavour but not so much that it becomes burnt and bitter,” says Ossa.

Brad Nixon, owner, director and roaster at Elementary Coffee Adelaide, began producing coffee in this style after living in Melbourne. “Both Melbourne and Adelaide roasters have moved toward a lighter style,” says Nixon. He explains that pulling back the “roast flavour” allows the characteristics of the bean to come through in taste.

The new trend in roasting style has come hand in hand with the influx of boutique roasters that have overshadowed national chains. Nixon explains. “When roasting coffee lighter, flavours can become a lot more complex. This can be a good thing with experience or can be overwhelming for more amateur roasters. When the coffee is roasted darker, there is a stronger characteristic of the roasting machine and not the coffee itself, which creates consistency […], therefore the majority of chain coffee companies will have a darker roast.”


Added complexity means that care must be taken to prepare the coffee, balancing acidity and flavour profiles with brewing style. But as with anything “there is no right and wrong just preference” says Nixon. Its milder and more acidic flavour is well suited to both black and milk coffee.

Elementary thoughtfully offer a house blend suited for milk and single origin for black. Dawn Patrol roast only single origin for maximum traceability of taste. Think of it like a single vineyard wine. Each region and variety carries its own terroir.

If you’re keen to do a taste test, ask your local independent café which beans they use. Look out for local labels Dawn Patrol, Elementary, De Groot, Cast Iron Coffee Roasters, B3, Goat Candy and Bar 9.

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