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Young alumni: Swan Valley cidermaker keeping it fresh

Alumni News

Since opening in 2016, FUNK Cider has won over Western Australians and tourists alike with its selection of aromatic beverages.

Martin Michael and Dustin Michael at FUNK Cider's bar.
FUNK Cider co-owners Martin Michael, 26, with brother Dustin, 30 (photo supplied).

Occupying the heritage-listed Valencia Winery on Benara Road in the Swan Valley, FUNK Cider boasts a rotating list of 16 preservative-free, raw and unpasteurised ciders. Each cider is made from fresh-pressed, locally grown fruits and crafted using traditional techniques such as barrel aging.

Compared with mass-produced ciders, which often contain sulphites and preservatives for long-term storage, theirs is a purer approach, and one that has helped FUNK Cider make a name for itself on the state and national stage. Last year, the company won the Experimental Cider and Cider with Fruit categories at the 2018 Australian Cider Awards, and Finest Local Producer Category at the 2018 Swan Business Awards.

The company has also begun branching out into beer and stocking its beverages at bars, bottle shops and restaurants across Perth and WA.

Curtin commerce graduate Martin Michael, who owns FUNK Cider along with his older brother, Dustin, puts the company’s success down to the mindset the two adopted at an early age while growing up on a wheat and beef farm north of Toodyay.

“Growing up on a farm gave us insights into wholefoods and the nutrition of fresh foods and how that is inherited from the quality of the land,” Martin says.

“All of our products are ‘Buy West Eat Best’ approved and have always placed health first, and are still uncompromising and incomparable in terms of amazing flavour.

“To have a link with local farmers and be able to add that value to our beverages is really satisfying for all stakeholders involved.”

Martin Michael at the 2018 Swan Business Awards (left); the Finest Local Producer trophy and certificate at FUNK Cider’s Swan Valley premises (right).

Martin Michael at the 2018 Swan Business Awards (left); the Finest Local Producer trophy and certificate at FUNK Cider’s Swan Valley premises (right).

FUNK Cider’s homegrown approach is in its DNA, with the company having been developed as an “alcoholic offshoot” of Michael Brothers Traditionally Pressed Juice, a company the brothers founded when Martin was 20. The company still operates alongside FUNK Cider and its juices are stocked at major supermarkets.

Martin says his Bachelor of Commerce in Property Valuation, which gave him an understanding of economics, finance, law, construction, sustainability and investment analysis, helped prepare him for the challenge of owning both businesses.

“A Bachelor of Commerce touches on all the basic elements of business, which is incredibly relevant for anyone running their own business or even just dealing with finances,” he says.

Michael and his brother don’t just have a commitment to supporting local produce.

Since 2016, they have hosted local initiatives such as Gig for the Homeless, where local musicians came together to support Orange Sky, an organisation offering a free mobile laundry service for the homeless across Perth. FUNK Cider has also organised competitions where locals could win the opportunity to create their own cider.

“Small business is all about engaging with the community, so that’s why we think it’s really important to support charity organisations, locals and WA producers,” says Martin.

Exterior of FUNK Cider

FUNK Cider is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and support of local produce, music acts and charity organisations (photo supplied).

Now, after so many years running both Michael Brothers Traditionally Pressed Juice and FUNK Cider, which drinks stand out to Martin?

“At Michael Brothers, we used to do a grapefruit and apple juice that had a lot of punch. It was too much for the average punter but it was my favourite.

“For those who are 18 and over, my favourite is feijoa cider – can’t beat those bubblegum aromatics!”

Alumni Innovator series

This story is part of our Alumni Innovator series, which recognises Curtin and WAIT alumni who’ve thought outside the box and excelled in their field.

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