Sample Coffee Stories #1:

As we find stability within the new normal, it’s time to bring back some old routines, like talking about our latest coffee release. All these years we’ve been sharing stories about each farmer at origin. In these crazy times, we thought you might also want to hear from the people who make your coffee right here, in Sydney.

From today, each ‘new coffee’ post we’ll tell you something about the farmer and about us.

Reuben and a bag of Lucio’s coffee

Reuben and a bag of Lucio’s coffee


What a name hey? So jealous.

Country: Colombia Varietal: Castillo Process: washed Flavours: passionfruit, pineapple, brown sugar Importer: Condesa Co. Lab Roasted with: Probat UG15

Lucio started out growing a variety of different vegetable crops until his neighbours recommended he switch to growing coffee, which he did with the help of a bank loan. Now he can manage a profitable production with her wife, employing a few hands.

He believes in fertilising his plants well, helping them grow stronger, healthier and ready to fight off diseases such as Roya, the “leaf rust” fungus which wiped out around a third of Colombia’s coffee in 2008-2011.

In fact, this whole lot we’re showcasing is the Castillo varietal, named after the researcher Jamie Castillo, who helped develop at Cenicafe (Colombia’s coffee research centre) around 15 years ago.

Castillo was created as an improvement on the ‘Colombia’ variety, primarily through its resistance to Roya and has quickly become the most planted coffee in Colombia.


In the 2000’s decade, Reuben worked as a barista and roaster for pioneering specialty coffee roasters in Sydney such as Single O and Mecca. Back then, it wasn’t too common that coffee shops offered many single origins at the same time. Reuben always dreamt of being boss of himself and owning an espresso bar that offered a long list of different coffees. Like a daytime wine bar.

In 2011, after a year-long trip rock climbing around the world, he found the legendary hole-in-the-wall in Surry. With a tiny budget and the help of friends and family, he opened the very first Sample Coffee: a place where one could sample diverse fine coffees from around the world. This little place has seen a lot. From growing a large family of staff and friends to surviving the multi-year Devonshire Street railway works.

This March 2020 the shops has closed its doors for the first time in 9 years; we really don’t know when and if we’ll be able to open them again (we’re “sitting down” with the landlord to discuss).

But Reuben, and we all at Sample, feel some sort of confidence. We won the round against the railway. We are ready for this.

Flick through more photos on our Instagram post:


All journal entries