November - Ricochet Roasters

This month we have partnered with the energetic and truly inspirational Ricochet Roasters from Brisbane.

In a change of tact from our usual question and answer sessions, we've opened up the floor for DJ to tell the remarkable story about he came to be in Australia and the subsequent mission for his roastery, all as one short piece. 

Grab yourself a fresh cup of joe, sit back and enjoy!

The story of DJ and Ricochet Roasters
We may or may not think about it much, but when we do, we know that a bag of good coffee holds multiple stories of hard toil and long journeys. Most of the coffee we drink in Australia has travelled far from the west and the east; grown by farmers who may never step foot on our soil. Their stories tell of good seasons and bad, high yields and low; each generation meeting new hardships to sustain their crops and livelihoods. And all that arrives in our cup.
DJ in Brisbane
DJ hanging out in Brisbane.

Ricochet Coffee tells even more stories of long journeys and hardship.


It begins in the mountains of Afghanistan, in the province of Urozgan, the village of Chichu. The year is uncertain because records were not kept of Hazara births, but let’s just say 1980. Dawood Jan (DJ) Urozgani was born to an apricot farmer, at the time of Russian occupation. Then in 2003, his father was taken by the Taliban, forcing DJ to flee far from his family and homeland. After months of perilous overland travel, border crossings made in the backs of trucks, DJ arrived in Oslo, and soon started work at Godt Brot, a Norwegian chain of cafes
and organic bakeries. This is where he met coffee for the first time, and it was love at first sip.

The Norway years were foundational, not least because DJ connected with Rasmus Helgebostad, the then Barista Champion of Norway. Under Helgebostad’s mentorship, DJ’s feeling for coffee grew wings and by the time he was forced to exit Norway in 2009, his only certainty was that coffee was his future. He dreamed of a time when he could soar with the best, maybe even roast one day. But there was to be two long years of disruption and incarceration, during which DJ’s only focus was survival.

Well, this is where the long story needs to be cut short. Australians are all too aware of the flood of asylum seekers coming to our shores by boat during the Howard/Rudd/Gillard years. Few of us can imagine the trauma of displacement, let alone the horror of floating on a wild, dark ocean, using only plastic bottles to bail water out of a sinking fishing boat, packed with 57 other souls. The boat did sink, but all survived by scrambling onto a rocky island, the last in Indonesian waters. DJ was jailed for four months in Jakarta, and again for 18 months in Western Australia after making a much drier second boat journey.

The passion for coffee never left. Even in Australian detention, DJ was able to source fine roasts, brought in or sent by the few friends he began to assemble. On his eventual release at the end of 2011, DJ made his way to Brisbane where he has family connections. He picked up shifts here and there in cafes around the city, and quickly noticed how Aussies are much more discerning coffee drinkers than Norwegians. This encouraged him no end, and not for the first time, he felt insanely happy to have found a safe place to make a home. By the end of his first year in Brisbane, he’d found himself a 3X3m spot at Davies Park Markets in West End, pouring Saturday shots for inner-suburban Brisbanites. He soon picked up a Sunday market site, then opened an espresso bar in the foyer of a high-rise in the Valley, before finding his forever shop in Edward St in the CBD in April, 2016.

The early days of Ricochet, DJ behind the Barista Bar at one of his market days.

DJ’s concept has no seating, neither at markets, nor in the bricks-and-mortar espresso bar. His customers are on their way somewhere, bouncing in for their coffee fix, then heading off to where they’re really going.

The name Ricochet is a play on the word ‘shot’, but also depicts this customer behaviour. DJ has proven to his customer base that the ‘speeding bullet’ imagery, also reflects the quick two-minute order-to-delivery time that he and his staff have perfected; a necessary point of difference in today’s coffee scene! On a different level, DJ has deliberately borrowed from the lexicon of war and weaponry as a way of disempowering these words, and ‘putting them to good’ in his coffee world.

This brings us to Artillery, DJ’s first offering from the roastery. To take the leap to roasting, he drew on the support and expertise of Dan Delaney and the community at Open Coffee, Brisbane’s first coffee collective. He also teamed up with roasters Jenny Seok and Jason Song in late in 2019. It took nine months of R&D to get there, but get there he did!

Artillery works brilliantly as the Ricochet house blend, pleasing the full party of Ricochet regulars – from flatties to black, hot to iced, neat or weak. It behaves well with alternative milks, keeping a smooth consistency even with soy. At home, it’s great on stovetop, in a plunger or aeropress. As DJ says… ‘Go on, make a bad coffee!’ Sourced mainly from South America and Africa, Artillery is medium-bodied with notes of milk chocolate, caramel, raw sugar, coffee blossom, dried apricot and nectarine.

 

DJ - Ricochet Coffee

DJ in his forever shop, Elizabeth St, Brisbane CBD

In the pipeline is Kalash, a less fruity blend. If you’re wondering about the name, it’s what Afghanis call AK47s – the K is from Kalashnikov, the rifle’s Russian inventor. Incidentally, the Kalash is used as currency among DJ’s people, not as a weapon. His dad once traded a Kalash for three goats.

And there you have it. It’s never just a bag of coffee; we must never take it for granted. There is passion, persistence and a s***load of patience in every cup. If this is your entrée to Ricochet Coffee, welcome!

To get your paws on more of their amazing coffee, visit their Instagram @ricochet_espresso or check out their website store 

(opening soon, link will be updated).