Step back in time and embark on a remarkable coffee experience with the Woodford Blend. This exquisite blend, crafted with love and purpose, holds a special place in our hearts, taking us back to the early days of Montville Coffee.

In 2001, as we set out on our mission to source sustainably grown and responsibly traded coffee, the path was not an easy one. We owe a debt of gratitude to Scott Bennett, our original green bean coffee broker from HA Bennett's, who shared our vision for Fairtrade coffee in the local market. His unwavering dedication helped bring the first Fairtrade certified coffees in Australia from Papua New Guinea and East Timor, marking a significant leap towards sustainability and traceability in the Australian coffee industry.

I recently caught up with Scott via phone, to recount those early years. Scott took the call standing in front of a certificate hung proudly in his office. He shared the significance of importing those first Fairtrade Coffees. He tells me, ‘That was the first ever agricultural shipment out of East Timor and it was through the UNTAET - United Nations Transaction Administration East Timor. Today, we still source our East Timor coffee from the same growers at CCT - Cafe Co-operative Timor’. 

The PNG coffee came from the Purosa Co-operative. The very growers that we continue to source from today, and where the Montville Coffee team has itself toured twice over the years, as well as hosting their former Chairman Daniel Kinne at Montville Coffee. Our commitment to these growers remains unwavering.

Scott's words touched my heart when he reflected on Montville Coffee journey. "You understood what Fairtrade was about before mainstream marketers understood. You understood the essence of what Fairtrade was about."

His appreciation filled me with gratitude, reminding me of the profound impact we can make on the global food chain.

The next chapter of our journey led us to the Blackall Range, where our founders, Karen and Richard Barnett, worked and lived. With limited access to certified coffees, they diligently crafted our first signature blend, the Blackall Range Blend. A light, clean, and aromatic plunger/filter roast blend that perfectly captured the essence of the region, it quickly became a favourite among local guesthouses and coffee lovers seeking comfort in every sip.

As the world embraced the virtues of Fairtrade Organic Certified coffees, Bennett's expanded its range to local Roasters, offering certified coffees from South America, Africa, and Asia. With the growing range of single-origin coffees at our disposal, the time was ripe to create our very first espresso blend tailored for the local cafe market.

This espresso blend needed a home, and that's where "Totally Delicious" came into the picture. A local take-away coffee cart business, owned by the late Mark Inch. Richard shared with me that Mark was the kindest, most genuine man and a pleasure to collaborate with. Mark, with his own deep-rooted values and a team of skilled baristas trained by Montville Coffee, found a perfect match in our newly crafted espresso blend. 

With thanks to Mark and Totally Delicious’s unwavering support, the Montville Coffee espresso blend was soon being served at the Woodford Folk Festival by 2004.  

The blend made a grand entrance. Festival-goers were captivated by its rich flavours and celebrated certification standards and Festival Director Bill Hairitz himself gave it his seal of approval. The espresso blend had found its spiritual home, and its name was forever etched in the annals of coffee history.

It was aptly named the Woodford Blend to celebrate the moment. 

Over the years, and with a few awards to its name, the Woodford Blend became synonymous with the festival's vibrant atmosphere, serving as the coffee of choice at various locations throughout the grounds. Richard and Karen often recall their interrupted annual breaks during Christmas and New Year when the festival season reached its peak. 

Richard fondly shares, "We answered the SOS calls from Mark when he’d be on the cusp of running out of coffee. The Diedrich roaster would come back to life and we’d blend and bag the additional Woodford Blend for Mark and the festival goers. Driving into the festival grounds, it always seemed to reach him in the nick of time. That's the Woodford way’. 

Today, the Woodford Blend remains an integral part of Montville Coffee's identity. Its rich history and the hands it has passed through have shaped its character. From the certified growers at PNG and beyond, Scott Bennett, Karen and Richard Barnett, Mark Inch, the Woodford Festival, and all our cherished customers. Each one has played a vital role in making this blend a symbol of excellence and occasion.

Reflecting on this incredible journey, I recall a moment in 2017 when Karen, Kevin, and I sat around a table, designing a new label for the Woodford Blend. Among our discussions, we approved a tagline that perfectly encapsulated the blend's essence. It found its way onto the label.

'It's always easier getting out of bed when you're headed to Woodford', it read.

It seems no matter which way we look at it… History is in the making.

So let's raise our cups and toast to the timeless allure of the Woodford Blend.

June 14, 2023 — Sean McGowan