There was stiff competition, with two high commendations, but the winner of the 2019 Best New Business award at Saturday's Cootamundra Business Awards presentation dinner was Dusty Road Coffee Roasters.
Ossie Campbell, co-owner with wife Diana, is adamant that the couple's successful new business in Wallendoon Street is "not a café".
"We've tried to move away from the traditional country-style café to be predominately a coffee roaster and an espresso bar," he says, "with the emphasis on providing very good coffee with light food accompaniments to go with it, and a quick takeaway service."
The Dusty Road shopfront has beautiful leadlight glasswork surrounding the windows and door, dating back to the early 1900s when it opened as Oz Ballard's barber shop.
It's had a number of incarnations since then, including as a florist and most recently a photographer's studio.
With old-style solid floorboards and high ceilings, the couple fitted it out with limited seating inside, the obligatory espresso machine and a large copper coffee roaster towards the rear, giving it a unique point of colour and interest - as well as ensuring the coffee is as fresh as can be.
In the current cold weather the seating out the front is not getting used much, but Ossie is confident custom will bounce back again in Spring.
He has has been in hospitality - coffee making in particular - all his working life.
He learned the craft in Norton Street, Leichardt, in 1997, and progressed through technician, roaster, barrista, and trainer, and loves the industry as well as loving a good coffee.
"It's always been my dream to open a roastery, and there's certainly a lot to it trying different coffees, different flavours and origins," Ossie said.
"We've been coming to Coota for the past seven years, visiting my mother (Leigh Bowden, a councillor on the Cootramundra-Gundagai Regional Council) since she moved here from Sydney.
"After we had our second child we followed suit, and we've really enjoyed living here.
"We were thinking about opening up a roastery for some time but when this shop came up we had to give it some serious thought, and decided to go for it.
"We've been open since 21 December - just six months now - and we hit the ground running.
"It's great to get the recognition of the Best New Business award - it came as a surprise because we knew we were nominated for the Business Excellence and Giraffe award but didn't know about this one."
For the future, Ossie and Diana are would like to branch out into the Riverina area supplying coffee on a wholesale basis, so "there'll be a little bit of Coota all over the place".
"We'd like to put Cootamundra on the map for specialty grade coffee. We use only what's known as specialty grade, which costs a little more for the green beans but it speaks for itself.
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"Our beans come from central America, Africa, all over the place, wherever it tastes bests because we're contsantly getting samples, toasting and tasting them to decide what's whats going to work well with a blend."
Runner-up new businesses in this year's awards, with high commendations, were Flemings Real Estate (formerly Ray Whites) and Creekside Kids, the new childcare centre near Nicholson Park.
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