I have no doubt that some of you will have visited (or even lived in) Australia at some point.
If distant/recent memories from your travels have popped into your head, or you’ve found yourself faintly nodding, know one thing – I’m extremely jealous.
However, have you also experienced a coffee tasting on a plantation in a Bali jungle?
Well, Gary James Donaldson has done both, plus more.
The 37-year-old owes a lot to his travels as they inspired the concept behind his new coffee bean store in Banchory, known as Coffee Curator.
‘Travelling really opened my eyes to the coffee industry,’ says entrepreneur
Originally from Aboyne, Gary now travels the world (working from his laptop) for most of year.
In his teens and early twenties, he worked in the hospitality industry “in a variety of roles in hotels and restaurants across Deeside”.
“I returned to college and university in my late twenties, gaining an Undergraduate degree in marketing and consumer studies, and also a Master’s degree in intercultural communication,” he went on to say.
“When I left university, I started my own marketing company and through that began helping [global] clients improve their marketing and digital communications – all from my laptop whilst travelling the world.”
His love of coffee grew along the way, too.
He added: “Travelling really opened my eyes to the coffee industry, and how it was growing at different paces within different countries.
“Coffee tasting in a plantation in the jungle in Bali last year was an amazing experience.
“Also, spending months at a time in Australia over the past few years exposed me to their exciting and thriving coffee retail industry.”
Gary talks spotting a gap in the north-east market and opening Banchory coffee bean shop
Gary saw the opportunity to build something similar in Scotland and discussed the possibility with his mum Julie, a fellow avid coffee drinker.
With her background in retail management, he knew she would be perfect for the managerial position of his Banchory store – Coffee Curator.
“We decided to go for it,” says Gary.
Coffee Curator boasts an online store as well as a physical shop on Scott Skinner Square, which opened on Friday, December 1. Its opening hours are 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday.
The founder added: “It’s a family business, which was a goal of mine, and something that I’ve loved seeing come to fruition.”
Coffee Curator: what’s available at Banchory store?
Coffee Curator is fundamentally a coffee bean store.
The beans are grown around the world but roasted in Scotland, and come in either 250g or 500g bags.
Currently, roughly 20 brands are stocked from across the country.
Gary said: “We work closely with the roasters to ensure quality and sustainability. And put a lot of research into both the brands and the products that we stock.
“We can also grind the beans using our industrial quality grinder in store, in a matter of seconds, from coarse to ultra fine, depending on what the customer requires, ensuring that you are getting freshly ground coffee to enjoy.
“Predominantly, we are looking to ensure that we have something on our shelves for all tastes.
“On a more niche level, Coffee Curator is seeking out Scottish roasters who are passionate about what they do and whose passion shows in their products, packaging, roast quality, taste.
“We want to showcase the best of the best when it comes to Scottish roasted coffee beans.”
Founder gets undeniable ‘buzz’ from working with family and running the business
Speaking about what he has enjoyed most about running Coffee Curator, Gary said: “Oh, so many things!
“I’ve personally loved working closely with my family on a project. Like I mentioned, a family business was a goal of mine.
“I’ve also really enjoyed working with, and learning from, the roasters. And when we have had coffee tastings in the store, which we plan to have regularly this year, there was such a buzz.
“We have at least two big additions to the Coffee Curator brand coming in 2024 which I’m not able to discuss in detail yet, but keep an eye on our social media.”
Visit www.coffeecurator.co.uk to order and/or find out more information.