When I think how my Buccheri grandparents toughed it out in country Victoria after migrating to Australia in the Fifties, I wonder if we Buccheresi love struggling.
Because although the family returned to Sicily, here I am back in Australia, doing it all over again!
I compare my grandparents’ experience with my own and feel thankful that Australia is a more welcoming place today and working conditions aren’t so harsh.
Eleven years ago, I left Sicily for Melbourne to journey back to my Australian family roots. I knew I wanted to be a market leader in slow roasted coffee but I learned pretty quickly that you can’t be an overnight entrepreneur.
As I embark on a new coffee label venture and expand my coffee roasting business into coffee roasting intelligence leadership, this milestone marks eleven years of slow hard grind, and I don’t just mean the coffee.
In this time, I’ve developed resilience and learnt that no one is entitled to success, you have to earn it: the rest is luck and good timing. I arrived at the right time, when Australia’s distinct coffee culture had matured to the point of being ready to embrace traditional slow roasting.
I spent my first years in a small roasting plant in Melbourne’s outer west, manually unloading heavy coffee sacks and hauling them to measure out the green beans into the traditional roaster and then hand-packaging the roasted beans.
On weekends, I would haul an espresso machine around supermarkets and coffee retailers, giving customers free tastings of my slow-roasted coffee. It taught me salesmanship and it was an amazing way to get into the head space of Australians and their habits. Just being there, talking to customers and sharing my coffee, was the best way to understand the Australian marketplace culture and develop a business capable of expanding for diverse consumers.
If I felt embarrassed about my English skills, I had to get over it pretty quickly. I couldn’t afford to let that hold me back. I had a unique product that people loved and a great story to go with it, and that’s what customers cared about.
Being an entrepreneur can be an incredibly lonely experience and even more the case when you are a migrant as well. I have had to get over major setbacks and confront self-doubt. It’s taken time to find my place here. I’ve learnt just how much relationships matter. Whether it’s family and friends, community connections or other businesses, these relationships have helped me in my business when I found it tough going.
Now my business is starting the next chapter: our new coffee roaster in our multi-million-dollar Brunswick roasting plant is the first to use infrared technology and the best of its kind in Australia for speciality coffee.
I love living in Melbourne with my beautiful family around me, supporting the business and keeping us close to our community roots.
Whether you’re starting from scratch as a working holiday visa holder or a skilled migrant with a young family seeking a better career and life, I think the essentials are really no different in 2017 from the 1950’s.
I believe the famous migrant entrepreneur spirit that Australia celebrates shines as strongly as ever. The challenges are just as tough, especially if you’re starting out from the bottom.
You don’t hear much about the migrants that went back to their home country. Today, just like in my grandparents’ time, people succeed or fail, for reasons they can and can’t control. That’s why I want to pass on to my kids not only the legacy of my success, but the strong work ethic and resilience.
Italians hold a special place for Australians because of our Italian heritage, cuisine, lifestyle and our coffee tradition. If you’re an Italian and you aim to live and work in Australia, this special affection is definitely a psychological leg-up.
Make no mistake– there is no special treatment and no guaranteed dream run.
I have found, if you have an entrepreneurial spirit and endurance, Australia is a place where you have a good chance at making your own future.