Eng. Scott Angelo, 44, fixes things. He used to repair Australian Navy ships and more recently refits megayachts. But one of his most significant jobs was on a popcorn popper.
That refit transformed a WestBend Poppery II into a coffee roaster. And that paved the way for he and his wife, former yacht stew Amy, to create Oceana Coffee, a roasting facility and coffee cafe in Tequesta, Fla.
By day, Scott is project manager at Rybovich in West Palm Beach, Fla., and by night he’s a coffee roaster. Amy, 34, runs the cafe and cares for their two young children. Their relationship began brewing in 2001 when Scott’s yacht was in Palm Beach and Amy was working as a teacher in town.
As a boy in Australia, Scott honed his engineering skills because his mechanic father said, “If you want to ride dirt bikes you have to know how to fix them.”
He progressed to propulsion systems in the Navy from 1985-94, then worked as an engineering refit specialist in a shipyard.
“I decided my life wasn’t adventurous enough,” he said. “I had read about yachting and had a few friends in. I packed one bag and bought a ticket to Ft. Lauderdale. MCA had just come into play and I converted my Navy tickets into licenses.”
He went to a crew agency, said “I’m here to be an engineer,” and within a few weeks had his first yacht job.
Amy grew up in Jupiter, Fla., sailing with her family every weekend. Later she became a kindergarten and art history teacher.
“I had friends that owned yachts, I just never considered you could get paid for working on them,” she said. “As a teacher, I did the math and realized I could never save that kind of money.”
She decided to give yachts a try and was solo stew on the 104-foot M/Y Miss Michelle.
“That was big for a girl that had never waited a table,” she said.
Next she was stew/deck/cook on a sailboat, and then 2nd stew on M/Y Inspiration, where they worked together.
As their relationship grew, the couple worked together on other yachts, including M/Y Sandra Lynn and M/Y Pangaea. Then they moved to Australia where they started Oceana Logistics in 2006, a shore-based provisioning company.
Coffee was just one of the products they provided for yachts. Using an Australian roaster, they sold the coffee under the Oceana label.
“We came back to the U.S. for a job with Trinity yachts as the industry was tanking,” Amy said. “So, we came to Jupiter to stay with my family. We still had Oceana Logistics, did some small refit jobs and still supplied some of our large yachts.”
Scott worked freelance as an engineer and joined Rybovich about two years ago. They never were happy with the coffee they drank in the U.S.
“We couldn’t find a local roaster, and the coffee was not what we were used to,” Amy said.
Problem-solver Scott researched online and learned how to roast coffee beans in an air popcorn popper.
“I roasted a third of a cup and realized I wanted to control the speed and the heat.”
That’s when his engineer-brain plotted a way to perfect the popper; he took it apart and added a fan speed switch used for a ceiling fan and an electrical switch.
“It looks a bit Frankenstein-ish, but it’s right here sitting on the shelf,” he said from the coffee shop.
From popcorn popper, he progressed to a gas grill for roasting larger quantities.
“It had a rotisserie set up on a three-burner Weber, I made an electric motor for the rotisserie and cooked the beans over the gas in a 5-pound basket, a cylindrical shape, for the green beans.”
His search for the perfect cup continued.
“I bought a bag of roasted coffee from Sumatra, a micro lot, and that day changed my view,” he said. “It’s the reason I roast now.”
He realized beans from small farms were more flavorful and fresh. That Sumatra coffee changed things for Amy, too. She said she tasted apple in those beans and realized coffee could have subtle flavors.
“That bag inspired my husband to roast,” she said.
The Angelos are as serious about coffee at home as they are at the cafe.
“It’s a big coffee culture in Australia, we would compete with friends at barbeques to see who could make the best coffee, and who had the best coffee things,” he said.
For his 40th birthday his friends gave him an Italian Rocket single group head espresso maker. When the couple moved to Florida, he rewired the house to run a 220v outlet in from the laundry room to power it.
“Scott makes me a cappuccino every morning. Regular soy milk, double espresso, no artificial flavor because each country has its own flavor in the bean,” Amy said.
“I’m a mom, I will drink it cold, but I haven’t microwaved it in 10 years. It’s not good to reheat that way, the best is to use the steam wand on the espresso machine,” she said.
“This will do the least harm to your delicious coffee. I know as a stew on charter, like a mother with two young children, it is hard to drink an entire cup of hot coffee in one sitting. Someone will need a special meal or a head will need to be cleaned.”
Today, Oceana Coffee has grown and added another cafe in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and they plan for more locations. The Angelos have even broader goals.
“We see having direct relationships with farms and communities in coffee growing regions so we can better assist the farmers, their families and their communities,” Scott said. “And continuing the coffee education into South Florida and the yachting community.”
They train crew how to tamp, how hard to press, how to grind; just how to make a great cup of coffee.
“I’m a barista,” Amy said. “I took courses in Australia to enhance my skills onboard for our charter clients because coffee is treated more formally in other countries.”
And they currently ship coffee to several large yacht clients around the world.
The Angelos think coffee is important to yachts, too. Because as Amy said, “the two things chief stews have nightmares about running out of are coffee and toilet paper.”
To find more on Oceana coffee, visit www.oceanacoffee.com.