Queen Of The Bean Jacqueline Arias Builds Republica

When former ABC journalist, Jacqueline Arias was given an awful tasting coffee while travelling through the home of the world’s best coffee beans, Colombia, she realised the harsh injustice that existed. The Colombian growers were pouring their blood, sweat and tears into producing the richest and most aromatic coffee beans, yet were being sold second-rate instant coffee at inflated prices, while the high quality local beans were being exported to countries such as Australia, USA and Canada.

Using her natural investigative journalistic instinct, Jacqueline worked through the channels and process of coffee distribution to find out why the Colombian people were being exploited and became determined to create a more equitable alternative – and so Republica was born.

Established in 2006, Republica has since grown to a company known for its exceptional coffee blends, as well as its commitment to organic ingredients and Fair Trade.

In 2011, Republica also became 100% carbon-neutral, something that Jacqueline describes as a natural progression,

“For me, pushing Republica down the path of becoming carbon neutral was a perfect fit and an extension of the ethics that we stand behind. I also wanted to be a leader. I wanted Republica to be a leader in this space. I wanted to forge forward and show other companies that they could do this, it’s not that difficult, and it is incredibly important,” she says.

Sourcing coffee bean growers from all over the world, Jacqueline has seen the impact of Fair Trade first-hand.

She explains, “Our Fair Trade coffee from Timor is our bestselling blend and the farmers from Timor are made up of over 19,000 people who are spread over a huge area. These people had never been able to access medical and nursing professionals, let alone basic healthcare. Through Fair Trade, these Timorese farmers have identified health as a priority project for their communities and as a result they have created mobile health clinics that give them access to a monthly visit from a healthcare professional.”

Building a profitable brand requires strength and passion, qualities that Jacqueline has proven ten-fold in her commitment and drive throughout harsh industry climates. Jacqueline credits authenticity and flexibility as two key elements of Republica’s success.

She says, “Everything we do at Republica, we do ethically. We live and breathe our mission which is to become the most ethical food company in Australia, and we believe in everything we do.  We are constantly adapting and shifting and are thinking and rethinking our entire business. We look at customer needs, trends, micro and macro shifts, and are always working hard to meet our objectives and achieve the best result.”

As a coffee connoisseur, it would be a crime not to get Jacqueline’s opinion on what makes the perfect cuppa
and she explains it comes down to a marriage of three components – great beans, a good machine and a fabulous barista.

“If you’ve got those three things, you’re going to end up with a pretty good final product. You could have great beans, but if you have a bad barista and a bad machine, you won’t get anywhere or vice versa. It’s got to be those three things working harmoniously together to produce the best tasting coffee. A good barista can turn bad coffee beans into a reasonable coffee, but a bad barista can’t make good coffee beans into the perfect coffee.”

And as for her favourite blend?

“I prefer my beans to be Arabica, which has less caffeine content. I also look for organic beans. Coffee is one of the most sprayed crops of all time and if you think about the chemicals that most coffee carries, you definitely don’t want to be drinking them. When it comes to colour, I want my cup of coffee to actually look like coffee and not hot milk. The colour depth of a cup of coffee is very important to how your coffee is going to taste. Darker colour is better, but you don’t want it too dark, or else you’ll get the shakes.”

The queen of the bean has spoken and I take heed – one skim cappuccino coming my way!

To order your own brew of organic, free-trade coffee, head to www.republicacoffee.com.au.

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Heather Anschau

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