When Fulvio Pagana began roasting coffee in Adelaide, the cafe culture of Italy was still a foreign concept and our fascination with beans and baristas was a long way away. Rio Coffee, the company he founded, celebrates its 50th birthday this year, making it the oldest roasting house in the state.
Pagana started delivering small batches of beans to his coffee-loving friends in a Volkswagen van. The company has kept pace with more recent trends and its range now includes five signature blends, as well as estate, organic and fair-trade releases.
“The coffee business has changed so much... it’s unbelievable,” Pagana says.
“Australia has very, very good coffee. I’ve been around the world and, believe me, I haven’t found coffee as good as here.”
Pagana says he now drinks three to four coffees a day, not as much as the early days when it was up to 10. And he always has a short black.
“Short black. that’s the best. It’s like when you drink wine... like a good shiraz,” he says.