Sharon Jan is one of the most influential and successful icons in the Australian coffee industry. As a food technologist, Q grader, competition judge and an ‘Eleonora Genovese Women in Coffee’ title holder her contributions to the industry and to MILKLAB have been vast and impactful. She uses her wide array of skills and experience to collaborate with the industry on exceptional and meaningful projects.
Read about Sharon’s inspirational journey, below:

What and where was your first job in the coffee industry?

About 19 years ago I started at, what is now, Seven Miles Coffee Roasters, managing quality assurance, product development and I also moved into green bean buying.

What is your occupation now and what inspired you to pursue a career in your chosen field

Having had a background in food technology, I became fascinated by coffee. It is the most complex food I have ever worked with, with so many possible variables affecting the final outcome.

I was attracted to the Specialty coffee industry and enjoy being involved with it and watching it evolve. 

What accomplishment/s are you most proud of?

– Judging at competitions of all levels, from local, state, national to international coffee competitions.

– Implementing and managing the HACCP Food Safety Program in the Seven Miles roastery.

– Developing formulations for coffee blends,  hot chocolate blends and other beverages

– Gliding through the Q Grader course with ease and passing every test on first attempt.  In 2011 and still now, the Q grader course is typically considered a difficult and daunting experience.

– Being award the 2018 “Eleonora Genovese Women in Coffee Award”.

– Conceptualising and organising the “601 Experience” event – sharing, what was at the time ‘the World most Expensive Coffee’, with the Australian coffee community. 

– Initiating and working on collaborations to produce a coffee beer, as well as the coffee liquor, Manly Spirit’s Black Fin.

Collaborations – Back in the early days when coffee beers were less common, I collaborated with the guys at 4 Pines Brewery to produce a Coffee Beer for an event;  but I was also searching for a partner to make a coffee liquor product.  Finally, and many years later, I was fortuitous with my timing when I approached Manly Spirits distillery, as they had already been thinking about making a coffee liquor and keen to collaborate with local businesses.  I experimented to find the right coffees and extraction process to make a coffee brew for Manly Spirits and Seven Miles to start a collaboration which now produces Manly Spirits Black Fin Coffee Liquor.

What’s next for you?

Continued travel to origin, meeting farmers, understanding their challenges, finding inspirational stories; and finding amazing coffees.

Leveraging my extensive network in the coffee industry and beyond to connect people and businesses together.

What are the main changes you have noticed in the coffee industry over the past 5 years?

– Continuous improvements in the quality of coffee reaching higher and higher scores, now in the high 90s.  

– Significant increase in production (and therefore availability) of high grade Specialty coffees from all around the world.   

– A lot of development work by producers with processing, especially with controlled fermentation. – There is now a much more scientific approach occurring at every stage of coffee production from bean to cup. At origin, to roasting, to brewing; which ultimately affects the final cup of coffee being served and enjoyed.

What do you like most about MILKLAB / what is your favourite MILKLAB coffee?

MilkLab offers a whole range of high quality milk alternatives. Australian owned and produced.

Working with Milklab on tasting panels was extraordinary.  I was impressed with their focus, to see the development and the rapid improvements during development was inspiring!  Such prove they are a competent ‘can do’ team. 

MilkLab Almond milk compliments the fruitiness and body of the honey and natural coffees in Seven Miles Wilde blend.