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Bean there, done that: Australia’s leader in coffee technology

Sorry Melbourne, the masterminds behind the nation’s morning Cup of Joe are Gold Coast-based.

Jun 23, 2023, updated Jun 23, 2023
CRA Founder Mark Beattie

CRA Founder Mark Beattie

Straddling the aptly-named Technology Drive at Arundel sits CRA Group, from where coffee machine maestro Mark Beattie tells the story of how he met his wife and fellow founder Alana at Nestlé.

But despite Mark working in Nestle’s coffee department, it was not over a cuppa. In fact, Alana doesn’t even drink the brew and Mark is more likely to enjoy a filtered coffee.

Mark, 44 and Alana, 47, bought Coffee Roasters Australia in 2009 and founded the CRA Group which now consists of the former business as well as Capsule Pack and CRA Technology.

“We were living in Brisbane and had a Subway franchise, but our backgrounds were in pharmaceuticals and fast-moving consumer goods. I spent some time in coffee at Nestlé and it was always our most profitable division,” Mark said.

“I always had an interest in coffee but more so the machinery and technical side.

“When we bought Coffee Roasters Australia it was a distribution business selling coffee makers and manufacturing roasters from overseas.

“It was always at Arundel, but we’ve moved and we’ve now got two factories. We run one factory for capsule packing and the other is for fabrication of machinery.”

CRA factory at Arundel

Coffee Roasters Australia is the nation’s longest manufacturer of coffee roasting equipment and first compostable capsule packer.

It also touts itself as the country’s “leader in technology and innovation within the coffee industry”.

Mark said the original business was predominantly focused on coffee machine distribution with about one quarter of the company dedicated to importing coffee machines.

“It was a very simple business: boxes come in/boxes go out. We started getting to the stage where there wasn’t a long-term future in just moving boxes. We didn’t have anything worth great value,” he said.

“We started modifying coffee roasting machines from Turkey to bring them up to Australian standard around 2010-11 and gradually over the years we started to bring that work inhouse.

“By 2015-16 coffee machine distribution became a very small part of our business and we decided to design and manufacture our own coffee roasters. Around the same time, we launched contract packing for coffee capsules.

“We wanted to diversify the business and not have all of our risk in the one area.”

CRA’s capsule machine

And it has paid off with CRA Group now turning over between $3.5m and $4m a year.

Mark said it would make “more strategic sense” to have their operations in Melbourne due to their client base, but working and living on the Gold Coast was too great an allure.

“Over the years we’ve had various grants from federal and state governments and support from the City of Gold Coast as well,” he said.

“A lot of the Gold Coast support has been involvement in trade shows or linking us with events where we can meet buyers.

“The lifestyle factor of the Gold Coast is very attractive. You have enough of a city here and great transport and for us being able to bring our trucks in and out for freight it is very accessible.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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