About Neoma Coffee

Neoma Coffee is an artisan coffee roastery based in Sydney, NSW. Also known as Coffee From Mars (not because the owner is importing unidentified coffee beans, but because his name actually happens to be Mars!).

Neoma Coffee already had an outstanding reputation throughout many Sydney cafes and Mars’ perfectionism and dedication to create the perfect roast made it an easy decision to launch Coffee Beans Delivered exclusively with Neoma.

A very modest man – with a very intriguing persona – is the creative genius behind Neoma Coffee. When we finally tracked him down and forced him to tell us about himself we were amazed at what we found. For those of you who want to get to know the man behind the beans, here is the interview:

Tell us a bit about your backstory, your name, where you were born, when you moved to Australia. 

coffee from mars photo in black and white

I was born in the north of Greece and moved to Australia in the 70s after living in Paris, studying as a French Baker, and then travelling the world as a Chef. I have seen most of the world but it was Australia that won my heart over. The people and the culture of Sydney (and, of course, the Sydney girls) appealed to me so it was no big decision to settle here and make Australia my home.

Mars is the God of War in Roman Mythology, do you think your parents knew you would conquer the coffee roasting world?

Actually, I was born Ares which is the Greek God of War and our (Grecian) name for the planet Mars. In coming to Australia, I found that people struggled with the pronunciation and so I changed it to Mars. I guess my parents knew that I would be a fighter and that I would never stop striving to accomplish what I set out to do.

When did you first get into drinking coffee?

In Europe, there are roasteries on every corner and, like buying milk, we would walk down to the store each day and buy freshly roasted coffee. Usually, our family would go through about 150g of coffee per day. We didn’t drink espresso though, we used a copper pot called a “Briki”. First you would have to pulverise the coffee beans and put them in the Briki, add some cold water, and then sit it on top of a tray filled with sand with the flames underneath. This way the sand would heat up and slow cook the coffee to release all those beautiful flavours. This is very similar to way that Turkish Coffee is made.

When did you discover roasting?

In order to discover roasting you first need to discover espresso. When I moved to Sydney in the 70s, I found myself going out to nightclubs on the weekends and afterwards we’d end up at the Piccolo Cafe in Kings cross drinking cappuccinos. Piccolo Cafe was one of the only places that were doing espresso back in the 70s and that is where I discovered the bulk roasting methods. I went into roasting for some commercial companies shortly afterwards and in 2000 I decided I had enough knowledge to start my own roasting business. Since then, I have been developing my own coffee blends with a emphasis on the quality of beans used and artisan style roasting techniques.

If you could grow coffee beans just for yourself and live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Sydney is still the place for me and I would never choose to leave but, if I had to move anywhere else, I would have to say: Kenya. I love the Kenyan coffee beans. They have such complex flavours with subtle hints of blossoms, fig and molasses. Now, all this talk has made me want a coffee, I’ll be right back.

(After a brief interlude of coffee tasting)

At home what do you use to make coffee?

I have every style of coffee machine at home. I have a Wega compact espresso machine which I use from time to time. I also have a small Rancilio which delivers a great crema on the espresso. I have a bunch of half built espresso machines that are my labours of love. But, I guess my favourite way to make and drink coffee at home is in a plunger. There is something about the way that a plunger delivers flavours that I just really love.

What is your favourite way to drink plunger coffee?

Always black. If you add milk to a plunger coffee you might as well drink milk instead. I love the Panama Geisha Coffee Beans which can only (should only) be used in the plunger. It has such beautiful subtle hints of Oranges and even though it’s the most expensive coffee bean around, we are only on Earth for a short time; why shouldn’t we drink the best?

How many coffees do you drink a day? 

I usually drink Piccolos if I’m out and about and so its easy to put away 5 of those in a day. I really have to watch myself on the days that I roast as I like to sample my roasts and this can often end up with me flying off the walls by the end of the day. But, that is what life is about, isn’t it?

What is your favourite savoury food to have with a coffee?

Contrary to popular society practices, coffee shouldn’t be served with savoury meals. If you are going to eat a savoury breakfast, you should have your coffee before or after your meal so as to not neutralise all the flavours. Try, instead, a croissant or a continental breakfast and notice how the flavours of the coffee compliment your meal.

What does Neoma Coffee mean and what does it stand for?

Neoma comes from my Greek origins and is usually used as a girl’s name so it seemed fitting to name my coffee Neoma. The word itself literally translates to ” The light of the new moon”. The light from a new moon is beautiful; so gentle and subtle and this is what I hope people experience with the flavours that I bring out in my roasts.

What does your brand say about you?

Life is all about the details. I believe you shouldn’t do things in half measures; slap things around and hope for the best. People who go into roasting without understanding coffee and the origins don’t realise the subtleties of coffee. They think you cook it for X amount of time and then you’re done, but there is a lot more to it than that and, similar to wine in different regions, coffee cherries can produce a great flavour from one harvest but not the next. Coffee is fluid in production so you too need to remain fluid. You simply can’t afford to become sedentary and get stuck doing roasts one particular way, if you do you’ll become stagnant and you’ll lose the full potential of your coffee.  In order to completely understand roasting techniques and deliver outstanding coffee, you need to seamlessly meld the artisan styles with the scientific processes. Coffee isn’t  just “2 + 2 = 4”, it is more like “2 + Indigo = art”. Every choice you make along the way has implications and so combining art, science and experience together is the only way to conquer coffee. That is what Neoma Coffee is about.