Mareeba's Jack Murat newest coffee producer in Queensland

Ben Harden
By Ben Harden
Updated May 11 2022 - 1:00am, first published May 10 2022 - 8:00pm
Brothers Plum, Paul and Ben Murat, of Jack Murats Coffee, on their farm near Mareeba. Photo: Josh Robenstone

Immersed in the rich volcanic soils of the Atherton Tablelands in the far north, a new family-owned and operated coffee plantation has been established.

What was once a thriving tobacco farm outside of Mareeba, the Murat family first planted Arabica coffee in 2014.

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Trading under the brand, Jack Murat, the family's strong agricultural roots stem from their grandfather, Hymet (Jack) Murat.

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Jack's three sons, Plum, Paul and Ben, now operate the family property, running the business alongside their own sons.

Jack's grandson and brand manager, Jemal Murat, said the family established the coffee plantation from seedlings.

"My grandfather first established the farm in 1926 and it was initially a tobacco farm and operated successfully as such for quite some time," Mr Murat said.

"After the demise of that crop, we grew an array of different crops on the farm, until the family committed to the coffee venture.

"It's a single estate of Arabica beans and we're growing one variety of coffee for now."

Mr Murat said the business is still in it's infancy, and the focus of the business has been to build their retail presence in Australia and abroad.

"It is a recurring crop year on year and our intent is to see as much of that roasted and sold domestically as possible," he said.

"It's a small plantation by world standards, but in terms of the Australian context, it's sizeable.

"We process the beans on on farm and then we effectively look to deliver it in different formats for the consumer.

"Those formats can be as simple as just a whole bean in a bag and it can go to the home consumer or it can go to a business."

Coffea arabica, also known as the Arabic coffee, is currently the dominant cultivar, representing about 60pc of global coffee production. Photo: Josh Robenstone

The Murats have received a terrific response from consumers.

"The feedback is terrific and naturally, that comes with increased demand in both domestically and abroad markets," Mr Murat said.

"We get a lot of wet weather over the summer, but then we get a dry winter period and given the harvest occurs over the winter, it's ideal in that sense, the climate is conducive to grow coffee here."

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Jemal says Australian coffees have seemingly always had a quite significant demand on the international market.

"The dynamics that play out domestically are some what separate to the recent international surge in price," he said.

"The costs of production have always been quite expensive here in Australia. We've always operated a little uniquely from the world trend.

"Australian coffee is exotic and the level of production coming out of Australia is tiny and in the world market, which is largely saturated by production from South America, Africa and Asia."

Since 2021, the Jack Murat coffee has been sold to different roasters across the eastern seaboard and also across South Australia and even into Western Australia.

"These clients are long established roasters and they're looking for a domestic product to offer as part of their array of coffees that they offer, which often share origins from Africa to South America," Mr Murat said.

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"Now we're giving them the opportunity to put a domestic bean within their product options."

The company has partnered with industry leader Nic Theodore, founder of iRoast, to roast the product and with Melbourne roasting company, Zest, to explore different flavours.

The coffee can be purchased ground or whole, through the Jack Murat website in either 250g bags at $17 or $55 for 1kg bag and will soon be available at shops across Queensland.

Ben Harden

Ben Harden

Queensland Country Life Journalist

Based in Rockhampton, Central Queensland. Contact: 0437528907

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