coffee roasting

From Crop to Cup

Image source: Contributed

Ingrid Nelson caught up with Solid Ground Coffee Roasters to discover the secrets behind the popular blend and how they are using coffee to help build solid foundations on the Sunshine Coast.

Having been in the coffee business for 15 years, husband and wife team John and Maree Ratcliffe know a thing or two about the perfect cup of liquid gold.

Starting out with a franchise chain for the first eight years, before opening their own line of cafés, which they still have an interest in, the savvy couple are passionate about delivering the perfect blend through their latest venture – Solid Ground Roasters, based right here on the Sunshine Coast.

“Over a seven-year period we developed a blend that was really popular with our customers, so we have a lot of confidence in it,” says John.

“I heard someone the other day describe it as ‘the crowd pleaser’, it’s a coffee that sits well in the middle.”

Ethically-sourced and made from top quality beans from Columbia, Brazil and Nicaragua, Solid Ground coffee is made with passion and attention to detail and you can taste the love in every cup.

“Watching the roasters work the controls looks like flying a plane,” John said. “They roast throughout the entire day, once they start they don’t stop and that’s because they want to achieve a consistent high-quality coffee, which is why it’s so popular.”

Smooth, creamy and without a hint of bitterness, it really hits the spot.

The beans we use, you can’t purchase anywhere else,” says John. “A lot of blends have a cheaper bean in them that are purchased through channels that you can’t trace, so you don’t know where it has come from or how it has been farmed. For us, we are more concerned about where our coffee comes from than how it scores when it is cupped.

“Our Hero blend is fully traceable, directly traded and you have that exclusivity in that you can’t buy those beans anywhere else.”

Cautious about oversupplying multiple cafes in the same region with their Hero blend, John says they will supply to one café or outlet per geographical area.

“We are supplying an exclusive coffee, so if we take on a client in say, Mooloolaba, we want to provide them with exclusive service and support in that location,” says John.

While coffee is their speciality, philanthropy is also something that is close to their hearts. A love of community and a desire to give back is a key driver.

“We want to build a business where we can increase the level of support we give back, which has always been a key priority for us in our journey as
business owners,” says John.

I’m not surprised to discover the duo have been supporting charities from when they first began in the industry 15 years ago and are now committed to donating $1 to SunnyKids from every kilogram of coffee roasted.

These funds will provide ongoing support to a minimum of 20 at-risk kids each year.

And, if you subscribe to Solid Ground Roasters and have the Hero blend delivered as regularly as needed, $5 from every kilo will be donated to SunnyKids for the life of the subscription.

Both hailing from strong and supportive backgrounds, Maree and John were unanimous in their choice of name for their new venture and it couldn’t be more fitting.

“I guess the whole idea is about a solid foundation, both of us are very fortunate to be brought up in stable family environments,” says Maree.

“My dad always said you have to build on strong foundations, you can’t take short cuts so when we were looking at the name it needed to signify the stability of where we are.”

I have no doubt those solid foundations will only lead to continued success.

For further information on SunnyKids visit

About the Author /

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A journalist for more than 20 years, Ingrid has worked across all mediums, eventually finding her niche as a feature writer. Cutting her teeth as young television reporter, she quickly moved through the ranks before joining a high-profile Brisbane magazine. She moved to the Sunshine Coast with her husband and three children in 2007 and has spent the last eight years working in publishing. She is thrilled to join the clever and creative team at IN Noosa Magazine.

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