Family-owned and operated business, Leaf Bean Machine, has spent more than a decade taking their love of a good brew to the next level by focussing on being more than just a coffee roaster.
Fleur and Brad Cassidy, the husband and wife team behind Leaf Bean Machine, created a three pronged product focus which gave rise to its trading name. They supply high quality teas and roasted coffees as well as coffee machines, commercial grinders, and barista accessories, and recently expanded their onsite café in Bibra Lake.
Virtual support from the business community
Fleur said that in the early days of the business they called the SBDC for advice about a leasing matter, which was very helpful, so she was aware of the SBDC’s role in supporting small business when the agency started a private Facebook Group, I’m a small business owner in Western Australia in 2014.
An avid user of social media for her business, Fleur was one of the first members to join the online networking group for local business owners and has found it a good source of moral support.
“I love hearing about that other business owners who are having similar issues or concerns, and even wins, as us,” said Fleur.
“It’s another source of great information and advice, and I like the supportive nature of the group.”
Be prepared for a steep learning curve
Both Fleur and Brad came from a hospitality background with restaurants and a commercial kitchen business before they came up with the idea of being an agent to supply and service coffee machines to cafés and other hospitality outlets.
“We knew that we could grow that area (the machines) and we naively thought ‘how hard can it be to roast coffee’,” Fleur said.
“It was a steep learning curve, but locally roasted coffee was becoming very sought after, so the market prospects were good.”
Training potential future customers
An aspect that sets the business apart from other wholesalers, is providing onsite barista training in their purpose-built facility. Leaf Bean Machine’s dedicated training team teaches students the art and science behind the perfect cup of coffee. Their target market for this part of the business extends from hospitality professionals to school students, home baristas and corporate groups for team-building activities.
“Very early on in the business we realised that we could roast award winning coffee, but if baristas and coffee lovers couldn’t make the end product (a coffee), well then it could reflect poorly on our coffee brand,” Fleur said.
Giving back to the community
Having both been raised by single mothers, Brad and Fleur feel passionately about offering opportunities to those less fortunate in the community, such as teenagers at risk.
“We work closely with a social initiative called ‘Grow N Grind’ and are thrilled with the on-the-job training that we can help provide,” Fleur said.
They provide free barista training four times a year to community groups.
“A few of the students have gone on to get work in the open market.”
“Sometimes all it takes is one opportunity to change the course of your life.”
JobKeeper was a life-saver
The COVID-19 pandemic hit hospitality businesses hard, and Brad and Fleur’s main aim during this time was to stay profitable and keep everyone employed.
“When many hospitality venues were closing, it didn’t look good,” Fleur said.
“We essentially sat our team down, and through tears, had to dismiss everyone.”
“JobKeeper was a life saver and enabled us to re-employ and keep our Leaf Bean Machine family together.”
What’s brewing next?
After being a family business for 13 years, Fleur said that their future focus is to continually refine what they do and try do it better.
“We have been going through every area of our business to see how we can make changes to be more environmentally friendly,” she said.
“As we employ more people, the challenges of managing and defining processes has become more evident and we would like to look at how we can include more technology to streamline communication and make our business more efficient.
Fleur concluded with a simple message to all business owners who might become overwhelmed and exhausted when confronted with challenges.
“Hang in there and reach out for advice and help,” she said.