Meet The Roaster | Matthew Payne, Dark Horse Coffee Co.

Matthew Payne’s career in coffee began in the mid-90s. After falling in love with the buzz of cafe culture, Payne moved to Melbourne where he landed a job as a barista and apprentice roaster at Atomica Cafe in Fitzroy.

Payne has always loved the alchemy of roasting and brewing coffee. The process of taking a raw coffee bean and turning it into the first thing a person consumes in the morning is something he finds rewarding.

The impact individuals within the coffee industry can have on a person’s day isn’t something Payne overlooks.

“There are not many things you can do for $5 these days that can really make someone’s day, but as we all know, when you walk out of your local with a perfect brew from your favourite barista who already knows your order, that’s a feeling that’s hard to beat.”

Dark Horse Coffee Co. was founded in 2016 with the Colt Blend. At the time, Payne and his wife owned a cafe and were struggling to find a blend they wanted to work with. They ended up taking matters into their own hands, and the rest is history. The Colt Blend has evolved over time but its essence has remained the same. The blend showcases a full-bodied, rich espresso that is deep, chocolatey, and sweet.

Payne believes a great roast is one that is balanced and consistent.

“It doesn't matter whether it's a single origin, a blend, a dark or a light roast, learning how to balance flavours is essential and this can only be achieved by understanding both the science and art of properly developing each bean while roasting.”

One of the values of Dark Horse Coffee Co. is to “leave less hoofprints.” As the brand continues to grow, Payne and his team will continue to strive to implement the best, long-term sustainable practices. One of the biggest sustainable measures Dark Horse Coffee Co. has implemented is the use of soft plastic recyclable packaging. To make sure the packaging is being disposed of properly, the team collects empty coffee bags from wholesale customers to recycle.

Dark Horse Coffee Co. is heavily involved in their local community and works with Zeal to provide training and work experience for local teens. The company supports a variety of local organisations and innovations including the stream restoration project in Kuku.

Payne’s advice to any novice coffee rosters or people interested in the coffee industry was to do as much research as possible, learn to trust your nose and develop your palate.