Mahalia Layzell began roasting coffee in 1999 while she and her husband, Paul, were running a popular Robe café.
“The Limestone Coast Collaborative will be great for the region because it will be an umbrella for all businesses to come together on all fronts, from tourism to government.” – Mahalia Layzell, Mahalia Coffee
“We were dedicated to making all of our menu items from the ground up, so we thought ‘Why not start roasting the coffee as well’?” she said.
Strong demand from customers led to the development of an epicurean roasting house specialising in profile roasting, and 14 years later, the multi-award winning business Mahalia Coffee continues to thrive. State-of-the-art roasting equipment operates alongside a busy retail outlet which is open seven days a week, serving a fine assortment of coffee and cakes, exquisitely packaged leaf tea, mugs and teapots. The business directly employs 14 people, with business mentor Jamie Anderson joining the partnership in 2008, bringing more than two decades of experience in the investment and consulting industries.
The Robe factory has been renovated twice in seven years in order to keep up with wholesale demand, with Mahalia Coffee now sold in around 200 cafes, restaurants, and fine food retailers Australia-wide.
“We also offer plenty of POS items, branded café barriers, umbrellas and ethically-sourced consumables, Mahalia Coffee-branded tea and lots of love,” Mahalia says. “We know what restaurateurs want, as we were one once.”
How has the Limestone Coast region enabled you to create a successful brand or business?
Mahalia Coffee has three distinctive areas: Robe Shop, Despatch and Manufacturing. Having our headquarters based in beautiful Robe has enabled us to flourish thanks to the very personal support given by the locals. If it wasn’t for them, we would not have taken off as well as we have. Our people in this region are great travellers, and when they venture outside of the Limestone Coast, they want our coffee for their business or home. As Robe has that amazing influx of travellers over the summer season, those visitors also spread the Mahalia Coffee love around the country and often reorder the product, or more importantly, become a food service customer.
One of the biggest investments we offer to this food service customer base is barista training and café consulting. As hospitality staff tend to be mobile within the industry, these staff – combined with the staff who have come to work directly for Mahalia Coffee – have created a well-trained cohort. We believe that our influence has lifted the quality of coffee made in the region generally, matching the quality of the food experiences.
Where would you like to see the Limestone Coast region in the next 5 years in terms of brand recognition for the region, marketing of products and collaboration of industries?
Interestingly enough, our region isn’t like other regions; we are not looking to brand out of necessity but more out of pride. We are all strong, interdependent people that adore our region. I would like to see more synergy between towns, therefore businesses will naturally flow into that state of unity, pool our resources and passion and then that reaches right to the consumer. Having a solid, marketable brand will help to define our varied and physically large tertiary to other regions, to help show government organisations that we are more than just a drive-through; we are an outstanding destination loved by many from all over Australia.
What are some of the successes that you have achieved?
We have proven that a successful national coffee business can be run regionally, with Mahalia Coffee being sold in around 200 cafes, restaurants, and fine food retailers Australia-wide. To date, we have won more than 30 awards since 2004 for our coffee and overall business acumen.
Having the right staff has been one of our stand-out successes – we have the nicest, kindest, supportive and professional crew you could hope to have. We spend a lot of time on training, and in trying to bring out the best in our people. We try to tap into people’s strengths and work towards harnessing those attributes to form a well-supported team environment.
Our logo is another great success, it is seen as iconic and is serving us well within the highly competitive coffee industry.
Mahalia Coffee, 2 Flint Street, Robe
Telephone (08) 8768 2778