With the Channel 7 camera pointed directly at me, I found myself in an unexpected moment of vulnerability. Alana, our segment host, spilled coffee on her shoes during her first attempt at a professional coffee slurp. We realised that this experience would be filled with laughter, spills, and unscripted moments. Little did we know that these genuine and authentic moments would become the heart of our segment, on Channel 7’s Weekender featuring the upcoming The Curated Plate Festival.

Reflecting back, we've always enjoyed creating social media content at Montville Coffee, to share our knowledge, build connections, and showcase the exciting things we're working on. While it hasn't been our expertise in the past, we've been working on strengthening our creativity in this space. Admittedly, there has been some procrastination, editing, cuts, and even a collection of blooper videos along the way. Nevertheless, we've embraced the challenges and have found joy in the process.

This year, we're thrilled to participate once again in The Curated Plate, a 10-day food festival on the Sunshine Coast. The event brings together the region's finest producers, chefs, and restaurants, offering unique food and beverage experiences. As passionate collaborators with fellow foodies, being part of this event is a chance for us to feel connected to something greater than ourselves and nourish our sense of belonging.

To generate exposure and ticket sales in the past, we've hustled with marketing efforts, including local paper ads, radio interviews, email campaigns, and social media videos. However, this year brought an exciting opportunity. Visit Sunshine Coast partnered with Channel 7 to showcase The Curated Plate Festival on their popular program, The Weekender, which reaches living rooms across Queensland on Sunday afternoons at 5:30 pm.

Montville Coffee's Masterclass, "Build YOUR Dream Coffee Blend," was selected to be featured in a segment on The Weekender. We were introduced to Sam Chenney, the producer, who explained that our segment would serve as a lead-in to a day of food tourism. Expecting around 45-60 seconds of airtime, we saw this as a fantastic chance to boost ticket sales, gain exposure, and create promotional content for new audiences.

On the day of filming, we warmly welcomed Sam and the hilarious Jed, the camera guru, to our roastery. Sam introduced us to Alana Lowes, the segment host known as 'The Flying Foodie' and a respected food influencer. Excitement filled the air as we prepared to explore coffees together. Sam and I had previously discussed the "Build your Dream Blend" event, including the practice of 'cupping,' which I believed would make for great television. Alana, however, had not been briefed on this coffee tasting technique.

As we dosed, ground, and brewed single origin coffees, Jed captured Alana's innocent surprise at the art of slurping coffee—an entertaining moment for viewers. Amidst spills and laughter, we enjoyed the flight of single origins, creating a playful and judgment-free environment, just like our Masterclass.

Alana, intrigued by the experience, embraced the ‘Build Your Dream Blend’ and began calculating ratios of three single origin coffees—Ethiopia, Sumatra, and Colombia. She sought to deliver her own "Curator Blend" with desired levels of body, sweetness, and acidity. Two variations were blended and cupped, and the excitement grew. With just a 10% change in the blend ratio, Blend 2 provided a delicious flavour profile, and Alana declared, "That's it! That's my blend. It's perfect."

I was a little suspicious, so I joined Alana in cupping both blends and concurred with her choice. Cup 1 had a pleasant flavour, but it felt a bit one-dimensional. Coffee should take you on a palate journey and this blend was nice, but not adventurous. In Cup 2, the richness of Colombian coffee, balanced with the high notes of Ethiopian shade-grown coffee and a hint of spice from exotic highlands of Sumatra, created a journey of flavours. With satisfaction, I tapped my cupping spoon against Cup 2, signalling agreement that our work was done.

Sam and Jed, momentarily stepping out of their roles, joined us in the cupping experience, fascinated and perhaps a little envious of Alana's morning with Montville Coffee. After blending 1kg of Alana's "Curator Blend," we gifted her, Sam, and Jed a bag of this exclusive coffee to share with their loved ones. The remaining 250g was used to prepare Flat Whites and Espressos for the final take on camera.

A picture can tell a thousand words, and I sense Alana had a good day.

The episode aired on June 18th, exceeding our expectations. Our segment, initially planned for 45-60 seconds, lasted well over 2 minutes. The Weekender team showcased our story with quality camera work and compelling storytelling. The following day, Monday morning, we arrived at work with a skip in our step. As we sipped Alana's Curated Blend, we were overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. Our inbox filled with ticket sales confirmations between 5:50 pm and 6:10 pm—a testament to the success of our collaboration.

This experience confirmed our belief in the power of collaboration and the unexpected opportunities it can bring. It was a refreshing change from the usual hustle and editing. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Visit Sunshine Coast and The Weekender team for their support. And yes, we still made it to the blooper reel!

At the end of the show, as the credits start rolling, you can see one of Alana’s slurping that missed the mark, and her mouth …“that was dreadful”… I giggled, and it reminded us to always embrace the humour and light-hearted moments along the way.

July 25, 2023 — Sean McGowan