A story worth hearing and a future worth witnessing
About The Owners
We are Fi and Lance and we have two kids: Manu and Enzo.
Our family, and raising our kids in a healthy environment, is our number one priority. Our business comes close behind.
It is through Sipping Duck that we teach our kids about resilience, respect towards others, passion for what we do and love for one another. Those are the core values that guide the way we run our business. We want to leave a strong legacy.
Of course we want to bring you the most delicious fresh coffee possible. To achieve that, we source great quality, high altitude beans. Once they arrive, we store them in temperature-controlled rooms, roast them weekly in a small batches, and pack and grind to order.
We can’t do that without a strong backbone that delivers a great experience. Our team is made of beautiful people that are about and look after you. You see, it’s not just about the coffee, it’s about the people behind it.
Lance and I believe that through this business we can change the world, or at least the world around us, the world of those that our business impacts, from our staff and their families to our customers and the rest of the world in a ripple effect.
Sipping Duck started in late 2012. The founders are Erik Ruelin (a very talented barista, latte artist and coffee roaster) and Fiorella (who is narrating). We used to work together in a Far North Queensland cafe when we decided to buy a sample coffee roaster and learn more about the manufacturing side of things.
Back in 2012, we used to get together with friends and have wood-fired BBQs every Saturday. Before everyone arriving, and while Lance was getting the fire ready, we would roast some coffee, talk about our ideas and play business. It didn’t take too long for us to get our first retailer, a little supermarket in Palm Cove that catered for tourists selling 75g bags of coffee. Within two months, we were so into it, we put all our combined savings towards buying our first coffee roaster and a coffee machine.
In May 2013, we went to the first market, at the Port Douglas Carnival, and shortly after that to the Yungaburra markets. Lance was helping out from day one; who doesn’t need a tradie? He had the ute, the tools and the strength to help set up at the markets. Erik was the best barista Cairns had at the time. I had the will to become the best administrator I could. Back then, we used to roast the coffee in our carport and cut the labels by hand, but we were learning so much!
The First Roastery and Cafe
In July 2013, an opportunity came up to set up the roaster in the corner of Cairns Car Audio shed. By August we had opened our first coffee shop in the most awkward location. To illustrate what the place looked like, Erik made the sign by hand. Outside we literally had a sandpit with an umbrella and some chairs. Inside, the walls were made of rusty tin (it actually looked great). In spite of all this, we were fully compliant with the law, and, with very little, we had managed to run a legit business. We didn’t even have a car back then, so we used to catch the bus from the northern beaches.
People started coming in and talking about us, spreading the word, working their magic. It was considered a tourist attraction… one of those places that people visit because they can’t believe it has good coffee. But our product could speak by itself, and everyone that visited knew that everything was made with love and care. I think everyone could see that we had potential, so they supported us. Before the end of the year, we were busy enough to need a third person. That’s when Lance came in and started helping on Saturdays. Soon enough he had to reduce his other job to 4 days, then 3, and then we needed him every day.
It was a dream we had never dreamt about; it was better than what we thought it would be. Although we were broke, we were proud and happy. What’s more, we were working with our friends, doing things the right way, having a positive impact on our lives and those around us.
The family grows
In 2015 Lance and I had our first baby, Manu, who used to go to work with us every day. The business was growing, so we employed our first staff, Myia, the Canadian cross-fit freak that everyone loved. We still miss her, but she is Ok back at home, actually in Seattle, working as a firefighter.
In 2016, we had to move our roaster and that’s when we opened our second cafe, in Bungalow. Then Surya came in asking for a job, and that’s when our good luck began; our team started to form. Yes we had some ups and downs, people came and left, but now we have the team we always wanted.
A year later, in 2017, we had an opportunity to move two doors up the road, next to Jonssons’. In the new location we would have aircon to cope with the tropical summer. However, we first had to trade from our trailer outside the new place. It was a tough summer, but it came with many rewards.
In 2018 our second child was born: Enzo. Unfortunately, due to health complications, we had to spend a lot of time at home and in hospital. He will need ongoing support until we can get him fully on track. We had the idea to expand to the Sunshine Coast so we could live closer to family, but it had to be put on hold for now.
the new chapter
Seven years in, we decided it was time to part ways and Erik moved on to a new chapter. He remains our friend and the founder of Sipping Duck. You will probably see him around when he visits and he might still roast your coffee from time to time. He now lives in the Sunshine Coast.
In early 2020, as I was writing part of this post, the world was being hit by something that looked out of the movies. 2020 was the year for polishing our whole business, getting to all those details, and fine-tuning all our processes. It felt like we were in one of those books that were out when I was a kid “Choose Your Own Adventure”.
It’s up to every single one of us to choose how this story continues, and we know we have a very bright future ahead of us. We do not doubt that we will experience significant growth, maybe not the economic kind of growth, but a very meaningful type of growth, the one that really matters. Priorities and paradigms will shift.
Now in 2022 not much has changed, and at the same time, a lot has. Our business is still going strong, our team standing proud and we have implemented many positive changes. The most exciting change was launching a brand new beautiful logo and recyclable coffee bags.
We are heading into our new chapter with a team we are proud of and a story that is as powerful as it is filled with love.
To conclude, I would like to thank you for reading and helping us write the rest of the story.