Meet the founder
While Gina Di Brita established specialty coffee roaster Numero Uno in 2003, you have to travel a little further back to find the genesis of her passion and dedication to coffee. The daughter of Italian immigrants, Gina was the kid at school with the salami sandwich, while everyone else had vegemite. Like a lot of Italian families, good food was at the heart of every gathering, and at a young age Gina began to appreciate how the simple fresh herbs and vegetables growing in her suburban backyard were transformed by her mother into something magical – a way of bringing people together.
It may have been no surprise that this love of authentic food and produce led Gina to a career in agriculture and farming. Owning and operating her farm for 13 years In the fields of Mareeba, Far North Queensland, Australia. The main crop was tobacco, but alongside grew mangoes, lychees and avocados. She learnt how subtle changes in temperature, sunlight, rainfall and soil changed the profile of the crops she grew, and gave her understanding and insight into the formation of quality. She understood that often it was the interplay of small and simple things that created outstanding results.
Gina helped build a thriving and successful family farming business winning multiple awards for “Best Tobacco Growers of the Year” under Philip Morris International.
Then one day, she was forced to pack up her three young daughters and whatever possessions she could fit in her car, and drive away. Although Gina knew it was a situation many others have had to face, it didn’t make it any easier. With three daughters under 12 years, she would have to start again - from scratch.
It was tough for a while. Gina’s life went from farming to a peripatetic period to then discovering coffee. In between and short on the necessary qualifications for her new life, she undertook a business administration course which resulted in a position as Head Librarian. The efficient, mini skirted, high heeled librarian soon built up her knowledge base and resources. Everyone would come to Gina for resources. From there she was asked to co-ordinate a Horticulture Course for a Special Employment Training Initiative by the Queensland Government achieving unprecedented success and record inscriptions recruiting the out-of work locals of which there were plenty. Having being noticed during a staff gathering of visiting Directors from Cairns TAFE, Gina was offered a role as Marketing Officer for one of the largest TAFE’s in Far North Queensland eventually running the marketing department and soon dealing with over 300 staff promoting and attracting business for the TAFE particularly for the large Indigenous and islander department.
Five years into this marketing role, Gina decided it was time to return to her home of Melbourne after seventeen years. Again packing up her three daughters and starting her new life, Gina found herself in a job that wasn’t fulfilling or inspiring and one day while sitting in a café going over job ads, came across an ad reading simply “Marketing Guru Wanted”. Gina describes it as a moment of clarity, as if she could see her future unfolding. Little did she know it was an ad for a boutique coffee company.
Taking a marketing role with this coffee company, Gina found her passion and excitement again. It all made sense, because everything she developed as a child over long Italian dinners had a natural affinity to coffee. While the learning curve was wild and steep, Gina just immersed herself in everything coffee. After several years in the industry and a decision to move to Sydney, she knew she was ready.
Gina co founded and established Numero Uno in Sydney, in 2003 , but after a partnership breakdown in 2006, trusting her instincts and backing herself to take the journey, Gina decided to book a flight to Milan, Italy. There she visited the head quarters of Brambati SPA, a leader with vast experience in manufacturing coffee roasting equipment for the Specialty Coffee Industry. It was there she commissioned her KS 30 kilo coffee roaster specific to her needs.
This was her new beginning to roasting her own beans, and explore the interplay between bean origin, and time, heat and technique. To help refine the approach to her first blend, Gina owned and operated Sydney Espresso Bar, Pablo’s Vice, which gave her plenty of willing if not vocal testers. Numero Uno’s first official blend, Picasso, was a combination of single-origin beans from five countries: Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Honduras, and Sumatra. 14 years later Picasso is still Numero Uno’s most popular blend - a testament to Gina’s instincts and intuition.
Today, Numero Uno is a devoted team who all share the same dream for great coffee and continual knowledge of the product serving a clientele Australia wide. It’s clear Numero Uno has a reputation for taste and quality, and is loved and respected by many, but for Gina the heart of Numero Uno is more than coffee. As the industry comes under increasing pressure and influence from multinational corporations, Gina knows the value of Numero Uno is in the relationships she has forged with growers and café owners, and the channels she has created to bring them together ethically and sustainably.
Now roasting specialty coffee for Australia, her career within the Australian specialty coffee Industry spans over 16 years traveling to several different origins, visiting and importing coffees from Colombia, Nicaragua and Honduras.
Gina has served as a World Barista Judge for the WBC in Australia at both State and National Competitions from 2004 until 2015.
She was Secretary of ASCA (Australian Specialty Coffee Association) in 2006 to 2008 and then in 2011.
In August 2014, Gina was invited by Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) as an International Juror (observer) for the 2014 CoE held in Neiva Colombia.
Gina has recently helped form the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) Australia Chapter and appointed as Treasurer.
She’s committed to social, environmental and economic sustainability at origin.
Recently a new chapter began, with Gina’s Company Numero Uno fostering direct relationships
with a handful of small coffee growers in the developing country of East Timor. For Gina, this is part of giving back. Her goal is to see more of the money in the coffee supply
chain flow directly to the farmers and their families, and to continue to impress
and surprise with the best ethically sustained coffee she can find.