Alumna Success Story: Emily Raven, Australia’s Premier Female Specialty Coffee Roaster
Le Cordon Bleu alumna and entrepreneur Emily Raven is passionate about coffee. She is Australia’s premier female specialty coffee roaster, and takes pride in training her staff to follow her footsteps. At her café, My Kingdom for a Horse Emily roasts her own coffee in-house with a focus on artisanal craft.
A Le Cordon Bleu alumna with multiple vocational and higher education qualifications, Emily did an apprenticeship to gain her chef’s qualification in 1992. In 2000, she studied a Certificate IV in Pâtisserie while running her own French-themed coffee shop, Café 54. In 2010, Emily graduated with a Le Cordon Bleu Master of Arts (Gastronomy).
“The master’s degree was inspiring as it brought people from different industries together to find a sense of community. As a woman going into business on my own, I didn’t have the same networking opportunities as men. The degree was immensely helpful in building connections. Industry networking and learning from peers is vital to the success of your craft.”
She was trained in the art of coffee roasting by Master Roaster Peter Wolff (Wolff Coffee Roasters, Queensland) who is a recognised pioneer and innovator of the Australasian coffee and tea industry. In addition to her entrepreneurial ventures, Emily has enjoyed a successful career as a hospitality lecturer, curriculum developer and writer for Le Cordon Bleu and William Angliss. She is also a qualified trainer and assessor for VET with an associate degree in hospitality management.
Two years ago Emily returned from Melbourne to start My Kingdom for a Horse with her business philosophy based squarely on supporting local organic producers. Emily was inspired by Nathan Toleman’s (co-owner of Top Paddock, Higher Ground and The Kettle Black) use of small artisans and local producers which is quite new to the breakfast industry. “We’re seeing a return to a sense of provenance, a connection to where the produce has come from.” In line with this, Emily’s suppliers are all local, organic and bio-dynamic. She buys specially grown coffee from individual farms and mills which scores at least 80 out of 100, signifying exceptional quality, flavour and aroma.
While building a syndicate of local artisan peers and producers, Emily enjoys trading her speciality coffee for artisanal wine and other produce. She is a great believer in sharing creative ideas as a way to stay on the cutting edge of future trends. “I want to know what my peers are doing in their businesses, not only to be informed about current practices but to anticipate the next trend.”
The café’s name My Kingdom for a Horse comes from Shakespeare’s Richard III. It was his battlefield cry, used here as a metaphor for life’s missed opportunities. This café, however, is clearly thriving, serving over 3,000 cups of coffee per week and 350 covers on a typical Sunday. Emily confides that expansion is definitely on the cards and plans to sell her specialty coffee online with a subscription service to customers. There are tentative talks of opening another coffee outlet in Adelaide.
“As consumers become better informed, they demand a better quality product. As a result, producers are continually striving for excellence. We saw this trend with wine - the consumer got better informed and started expecting a higher quality product and now we’re seeing it with coffee.”
Emily gives the following advice to aspiring small business entrepreneurs. “Begin with a study programme and build a framework so you have a strong background to run your business. Go out and meet people you respect and admire in industry. You need to know what your peers are doing. Always look for something unique to give you the edge, and never stop researching.”
Emily recently won the 2017 Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence - South Australia.
With an eye firmly on the future, there are no opportunities likely to be missed by Australia’s premier female coffee roaster.