The Journal

Coffee tastemaker finds flavour in the everyday

Melbourne’s coffee scene is renowned the world over. And Fleur Studd is commonly referred to as the most influential woman in that scene... yet if it weren’t for a coffee tasting in another city during her twenties, the title may have fallen to someone else.

Today Fleur runs specialty coffee wholesale business, Melbourne Coffee Merchants, alongside Market Lane roastery and cafés, and is living proof that it’s the little moments in life that can transform our career trajectories.

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Fleur works the floor at Market Lane.
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Having grown up in a family that celebrated food (her father is international cheese guru Will Studd), Fleur was taught from a young age to be curious about flavor and provenance, but had never really thought about coffee in that way. “In my mind, it all tasted the same.”

But on a visit to Monmouth Coffee in London, Fleur was blown away by the diversity and contrast of flavour depending on the bean’s origin – with one sip she could taste the tropical notes of Kenya, another the chocolatey, full-bodied flavor of Brazil.

While that experience sparked her excitement for coffee, what keeps Fleur in the business is seeing how the trade impacts local communities in Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Bolivia and Rwanda, where she travels two or three times each year to source the beans. “We work very closely with coffee producers and some of the relationships have spanned a decade, so we have witnessed the role that paying a premium price for quality coffee plays in generating income for thousands of families.”

On a day-to-day level, Fleur’s reality is rather chaotic (two businesses and a young family will do that). But despite the chaos, she continues to keep the little moments that give life flavour front of mind – from watching her daughter learn how to crack an egg, to working on the floor at Market Lane. “Those are the moments that are most precious.”

A day in the life

First thing

I'm naturally a night owl, but I now get up quite early for the kids. Our day starts around 7am and the morning is quite special – I’ll feed Archie while cuddling with Rosie and we’ll have a little chat before we start the day.

My husband Simon and I take turns to exercise. It can easily become a low priority when there is a lot of work or chaos, so we will look at our diaries at the start of the week to schedule time for exercise while the other watches the kids.

We all have breakfast together before I head into work at the Prahran Market where we do all of our roasting for Market Lane.


A lot of my time is spent blind tasting and evaluating coffee purchased at its origin. We call that cupping – we will weigh the coffee so each cup has 11 grams then grind it, smell the aroma, and then pour hot water over it and smell the aroma again.

After a set amount of time we will taste the coffee with a spoon and drink the coffee like you would a really hot soup. It’s similar to how you taste wine – we swirl it around the mouth and assess the sweetness, the acidity, the overall balance so we can we can communicate how the coffee tastes and differentiate between them.

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Fleur spends time blind tasting the coffee beans.
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I'm constantly wearing two hats: one is looking after Market Lane and the other, Melbourne Coffee Merchants, where I also do a lot of the storytelling – it's really important to share the story of where our coffees come from and the people behind them.

Unfortunately this juggle means I often eat leftovers for lunch while I answer emails or am in a meeting. I’m trying to have more walking meetings, and sometimes we'll all go down to the market as a team, grab some yummy salads and sit down, which is a nice pause in the middle of the day.

When I can, I work on the floor at Market Lane, serving customers. I love talking to them about coffee. That really excites me – being able to engage with people and help them find beans that they'll love at home.


I normally finish around 5pm. I love that we work in the Prahran Market because I'm able to do my shopping while I'm there. It has also made me a lot more aware of what's in season, and that's fun.

I pick up the kids and head home to give them a bath, which is really a lovely time to just hang out and chat. The amazing thing about having kids is that they force you to be present. Mornings and evenings are really precious times and we try to make them as fun as possible (even wrangling to get them dressed). It’s a lovely bookend to the day.

Cooking is a really big part of the evening and a time to connect with my husband. We both really enjoy food, so often we'll cook dinner together and sit down and have a proper conversation.

Then I'm afraid to say, it's back on the emails, catching up on the day.

I’ll normally head to bed around 11. We try and have at least one night a week where we're not jumping online after dinner and get a really early night's sleep. I’m also trying to avoid taking digital devices into bed, so I’ll usually read some pages of a book and then collapse.

Tips for juggling multiple hats

Divide the day

I read Getting Things Done by David Allen and I found it really useful in terms of organization and dividing my time into blocks. For example, I’ll bang out five or six calls in a row, rather than chop and change between phone and email.

Have a work from home day

I try to have one or two days a week working from home. Often when I'm in the office, I'm bouncing from meeting to meeting, so having a couple of days at home allows me to have some space to think.

I save that time for things that really need a lot of attention and time. If I tried to do lots of small tasks, I don’t think it would work as well – I'd probably find myself staring into the fridge or putting the washing out!

Outsource where possible

On the home front, we've outsourced certain things to make our lives easier such as getting a cleaner. Even with groceries, I go to the same fresh produce stall in the Prahran Market and the owner gives me a box of fruit and vegetables for the day and I don’t have to think about it.

Be mobile

I've only just cottoned on to how good backpacks are! I wish I had worked this out a little earlier... it is so much easier to have the weight of what I am carrying evenly distributed on my back, especially when I am out with the kids and then have two hands to wrangle!

Likewise with the Bellroy phone case and wallet – that's all I need when I leave the house.

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Fleur's Designers Edition Folio Wallet for #thisismybellroy

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