July 01, 2024

Oh hi friends! Welcome to July. We’re smack bam in the middle of winter so it’s the perfect time to bring you some new coffee that will really warm you up. This month we’ve got two amazing coffees by the talented gang over at Victoria based Prodigal Coffee Roasters.

Started by industry pro Caleb Podhaczky, Prodigal kicked off during Covid, with Caleb revisiting his passion for roasting. Fast forward to today, their brand new roastery is located at the base of the Mornington Peninsula, in the bay side town of Hastings, only an hour drive from Melbourne. They also just opened up an espresso bar onsite which is a must visit.

Aside from their impressive Hastings HQ, Prodigal also has a fantastic cafe in the neighbouring town of Tyabb. Next time you find yourself weekending on the Mornington Peninsula make sure you drop by and visit them!

The  Interview

We caught up with Prodigal Founder and Head Roaster, Caleb Podhaczky, to talk about his journey to launching his own coffee business, where he thinks the industry is headed and where the name ‘Prodigal’ came from.

Tell us about you! What’s your coffee background?
It’s been a long journey! My first coffee job was in 2002 as a barista. Then I
landed a job at Melbourne’s 5 Senses Coffee in 2007 and ended up becoming
the Head Roaster there. In 2013 I jetted off to Annapolis, Maryland in the USA for
4 years and worked as the Head Roaster at Ceremony Coffee Roasters. When I
came back to Australia in 2017 I worked with my good mates over at Commonfolk
and now here we are. Oh also, I did have a spell in the Barista Championships
back in my glory days! I won the Victoria state competition in 2010, 2011
and 2013.

How did Prodigal Coffee Roasters get started? Talk us through the process
and challenges.
It’s actually a very different kinda story. After heading home from the US I was
in horrible shape – mental health wise. I’d stepped away from coffee, almost
lost my life to suicide, was addicted to alcohol and in an absolute hole. Living
on the streets was looking like a reality. In 2019 my folks and I chatted about
doing something to give me purpose and hope. I was 4 months sober and
missing coffee, so we snagged a 1kg Probatino machine as a hobby roaster.
To be completely honest, it all moved forward organically from there. Covid,
staying sober, a marriage breakdown and financial crisis were all setbacks
but the process, overall journey, people I met and the opportunities have been
phenomenal. It’s the most satisfying and fulfilling thing I’ve done.
What do you consider your most notable coffee achievements?
As wanky as it seems now, the Barista Championships and winning the Vics
those 3 years opened a heap of doors for me. It helped connect me with
amazing people and guide my career. It’s taken me overseas, radio interviews,
created jobs and the best part… made some lifelong friends!

Where did the name ‘Prodigal’ come from?
I come from a very ‘Christian’ back-ground, the Prodigal Son was a story I knew well. At the point we started Prodigal, I had no real faith or beliefs. However, it was my return to specialty coffee. It’s a bit tongue in cheek. Prodigal basically means ‘reckless living’ which was where I’d been living for years. Next is our tagline ‘Drink Recklessly’ which is also tongue in cheek!

What are you looking forward to in the coffee industry at the moment? Any
cool trends we should keep our eye on?
I feel like the industry is pairing back a little. The $200 cup of coffee BS has come and gone, and light roasted lemon juice has come and gone. It seems like the industry is shifting back to a more ‘approachable’ style of cup – which happens to be one of our pillars. I think consistency is also one thing a lot of us are focused on, which is huge.

How would you describe your coffee to someone who’s never tasted it before?We have coffee for coffee nerds and coffee for our everyday drinkers. Simple, approachable and delicious!


The Coffee


Looking for an epic go-to espresso blend? This is the one for you! Steadfast is the ultimate crowd pleaser. A yummy blend of Colombia Arboleda-Nariño and Guatemala Huehuetenango Quetzal make up this coffee of champions. Tastes of butterscotch, chocolate brownie and plum. If you find yourself at one of Prodigal’s cafes around Melbourne, you’ll notice this is always on the bar. Bangin’ in milk, killer black. Just easy and bloody delicious.

Coffee Origin:
Colombia & Guatemala
Tasting Notes:
Notes of butterscotch, chocolate brownie and plum
Washed Process

Dose in: 22g
Dose out: 46g
Time: 31-34 seconds


This is the coffee nerds’ go-to. It tastes like summer in a cup and just so happens to be roasted in Somerville! What makes this coffee unique is that it’s actually a blend. Prodigal combined Ethiopia Arsosala Washed and Ethiopia Arsosala Natural to create a delicious flavour profile of tropical fruits and booze. Refreshing and unique, this filter keeps you wanting another cup. Prodigal also pushed development a little more than normal in their filter profiles which kept things sweet and lush, while still having a big pop of fruit and flavour. Enjoy!

Coffee Origin:
Tasting Notes:
Notes of tropical fruits and booze
Washed & Natural Process

Recipe (V60):
Dose 20g to 320g water
Water temperature 95 °C
50g pulse to centre of the crust every 30
seconds for around 2:45-3:15 minutes