Industry Beans co-founders Trevor and Steve Simmons had something of a full-circle moment earlier this year. As young kids, their dad would take them to watch sports at the MCG. Thirty years on, they took him to watch a T20 cricket game, and got him a coffee. “There we were, sitting in the members [area], Industry Beans all around us … he was speechless.”
Since they started roasting coffee in 2010, the Melbourne-born roastery has carved out a permanent place in Australia’s coffee scene, with Trevor and Steve at the helm. As this year’s AFL Premiership season kicked off, so too did the partnership between the brothers and the ‘G.
The enquiry from the Melbourne Cricket Club came through the Industry Beans website. “At first we were like, ‘Is that real?’” Trevor says, but they jumped at the chance to serve the stadium’s crowds.
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Trevor says the MCG currently serves up roughly 20,000 cups of coffee a week, and close to a million cups a year across its 35 outlets, which are open on match days. Industry Beans now has the task of hand-delivering a fresh batch of coffee each week – plus ensuring that every cup made is a great one.
According to Steve, that depends on two things. “One is the freshness of the coffee – so it makes sense to have a business that’s based in Melbourne roasting the coffee to deliver it two kilometres away at the MCG,” he says.
“Secondly, the training and support.” That proximity to the grounds means it’s easy for the MCG to call on the roastery for help. “Ultimately, the barista has a huge influence on the success of that cup of coffee,” Steve says, so “we treat it as if it’s one of our own – albeit massive – venues”.
Before there was Industry Beans, there was Penny Farthing Espresso, which the brothers opened on High Street, Northcote, in early 2010.
At the time, Steve was finishing up a mechanical engineering degree. He wasn’t all that keen to go into the field, though, and had been working in a microroastery. Trevor was working in hotels and studying to become a sommelier. “I said to Steve, ‘I don’t really want to work for anyone else anymore,’ and Steve goes, ‘Well, I’m pretty happy not working for anyone else either,’” Trevor says.
At a time when Melbourne’s now-thriving specialty coffee scene was just taking off, the premise for Penny Farthing was simple: “Let’s serve the best coffee on the street, and let’s make people feel welcome when they come in the front door,” Steve says. “It was really about bringing together our two backgrounds – my passion for specialty coffee and Trevor’s formalised experience and exposure to high-end hospitality – and trying to bring that service standard to coffee.”
That same year they started producing their own coffee, labelled Industry Beans, at a roastery in Fitzroy North. They would load 60-kilo bags of beans into the ute from a garage in Brunswick, take them to Fitzroy North to roast and pack, then stack them on the shelves at Penny Farthing. The first Industry Beans venue opened in 2013.
A decade on, they’ve got a suite of Industry Beans products, a long list of wholesale accounts, and seven venues under their belts – including three in Melbourne, two in Sydney and two in Brisbane. Each city also has its own roastery, which aligns with the pair’s local ethos. So far, Trevor says, the MCG is reporting an increase in coffee consumption this year. “We’re certainly going through a lot of beans, that’s for sure.”
The MCG may represent the pinnacle of partnerships, but Industry Beans is already a seasoned professional when it comes to game-changing moves. In 2020 they launched The Espresso Club with De’Longhi, a weekly subscription service that provides a coffee machine, beans, and even at-home support for a small fee. (Everyone who purchases a coffee at the MCG until Round 17 – on Thursday July 6 – can go into the draw to win an Espresso Club membership. Broadsheet readers can also go into the draw by entering here).
“Our journey the whole time has been around building a great brand step-by-step, rather than trying to jump too quickly or oversell what we can do,” Trevor says. “And I think that resonated quite nicely with our cafe [partners], but also with larger players like the MCG.”
As Melburnians, the pair are excited to serve the masses at a venue that’s part of the fabric of the city, as well as their own memories.
“Trevor and I were at the MCG the day that Scott Boland took all those wickets at the Ashes. It was the third day at the test and it only lasted for like an hour and a half,” he laughs. “That was a pretty special sporting moment at that ground, for a Victorian who had battled really hard to be given a shot. To have our coffee there a year later is quite staggering.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Industry Beans.