The Locum – Sarah Macnab

Sarah, for years the face of Venus Coffee in Wanaka has now embarked upon the next step of her career. Her skills in roasting and indeed the day to day needs of business have lead her to ponder – does this industry need a roasting locum?
Find out more about Sarah here in The Roast
What is your earliest coffee related experience?
As a child I used to get to make the perc coffee for my parents when they had dinner parties… it was one of those electric ones with the glass bubble on the top and I used to love to see how much coffee I could pack into the container. I was totally drawn to the smell and watching the blop blop into the little glass top as it was doing its thing!
When / why did you first get working in coffee? What led you to becoming a roaster?
I was fussy about my coffee for a long time and being a chef I got exposed to it more and more. I needed a change from what I was doing and decided that I would try to raise the standard of coffee being made in Wanaka. There was a lot of great coffee beans available but the consistency at the cup end was not. So in 1999 I set about learning how to roast coffee. Marc Adamson taught me how to roast. Apparently, according to John Burton, I was about the 68th person to be roasting coffee in NZ! I think I also brought the total of women roasting to 2 or 3!
What do you roast on, anything unique about your set up? Nothing unique, and no flash computer systems attached. Very hands on. I have spent the last 12 years roasting on a small Turkish Has garanti 7 kg shop roaster…
Apart from your roasting machine (in its factory floor form), what’s your favourite “tool” you use in your role? Definitely my circlip pliers! Not that I get to use them that often, but I love the look it gets when I mention I own some! But a close second is a little flat head screw driver… if you ever go anywhere without it, you can guarantee you will need it! I have one permanently in my car, and my handbag!
What do you find most rewarding about roasting? I think it’s the joy that the fresh beans provide to so many people. Roasting coffee in a small community is a bit like being the local doctor… People turn up at my house in their dressing gowns hoping I have spare coffee at my home! Gotta love that!
Talk us through a typical work day…
A typical day can consist of everything. If its not roasting all day, it can be fixing machines, coffee trainings, ordering stock, doing tax, dealing with graphic designers, answering phones and dispatching orders
Have you visited Origin or which origin would you most like to visit and why? I have never visited origin. I have been hoping Geoff would take me to Cuba but haven’t won the lottery yet!
Any fire stories? I am totally cautious about fire… having been in a fire in a catering truck in Fiordland. I get the flues cleaned all the time. When I started roasting some of the older roasters hunted me out (like Brian and David from Stewarts ) they always said to me…”have you had a fire yet”? I think I took note of that advice! So far 12 years.. fingers crossed!
So what now….after 12 years?
I recently sold my share of Venus coffee to my business partner. As an owner/operator of a 2 person coffee roasting business I have learnt how very difficult it is to get away. Perhaps there is the need for a locum roaster in New Zealand for other small coffee roasters such as myself! I thought that I would throw it to the roasting community and see what happens… imagine if you wanted a holiday and someone could come and roast for you… do your coffee trainings, fix your clients machines. Perhaps even house sit and mind your dog all at the same time! Sounds good doesn’t it! I figure it’s a great way to have a holiday around New Zealand and see what doors open and where life’s adventures lead me next!
If anyone wants to contact me to chat
Sarah Macnab
Hm: 03 4431266
Cell: 027 4436171