Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reverence Specialty Coffee & Tea

In case it wasn't obvious, I simply haven't had the time to update my blog.

Since taking over at Atomica Coffee it's kept me rather busy and now i've decided to tackle another project with my sister.

We're opening a Specialty Coffee & Tea cafe in Ascot Vale, hope to see you there when it opens later in 2011 - Reverence

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Are these Sydney's 3 best coffee desitnations?

Yet another long-overdue post.
After my short stint in Brisbane I decided to fly home via Sydney, only having a few days I got the heads up on the must visit cafes - but already knew which three i'd be going to.

I got off the plane and took a taxi directly to:
Coffee Alchemy (Flint & Steel)

Not that the coffee in Brisbane wasn't great, it's just that my first coffee at Hazel's was memorable, a piccolo of Brazil Serra do Rola Moça (2008 CoE #20).
As a barista you know sometimes you just cant get everything right, well this was not one of those moments - there are some coffees you just cant forget and this was one of them.

On my first visit there was a 2 group La Marzocco Linea on the bench and a roaster out the back that didn't want to work.
2 days later I did a double take when I walked in, the Linea had grown by 50% and now had paddles and wafting in the air was the aroma from this thing...

Not only did I have my first coffee in Sydney here, I also had my last so for anyone visiting Sydney if you're taking a taxi it's not much of a detour on the way to the airport from the city.
A must visit coffee destination in Sydney, thank you Hazel and Dan.

Next day breakfast was at:
Mecca Espresso

Not a bad spare machine to have sitting around

A 5 minute walk from my hotel, Mecca on King St was the perfect start to the day and again I had one of those memorable coffee experiences here.
The Clover wasn't in service but pourover was available and the Honduras 2009 CoE #11 Otilio Hernández Cáceres - San Jorge ended up being the favourite at home for a few more weeks.

I also visited the Alfred St Mecca in Cirqular Quay, perfectly located if you're doing the ferry thing and need a coffee.
But it was King St that I kept going back to twice a day and even spotted Salvatore from St Ali having a coffee one morning - wonder if the Sydney rumours/plans are true...

Third on the must visit list was:
The Source
The first thing that you notice is how tight the space is with the roaster sitting next to the counter but I was soon distracted by some great coffees.
Interesting to note that the coffee equipment is all made in the US - Clover, Synesso and Renegade.

Again I bumped into some familiar faces including Emily Oak and Kiril and Josefin who were also making their way down from the QLD barista comp.

Had a fantastic clover coffee and lunch at the Source and then made my way back to the ferry.

The whole Melbourne vs Sydney debate still goes on, I believe the three cafes I visited are in the same league as Melbourne's very best but Melbourne has many more on that level and many more getting close, whereas in Sydney even others that were recommended weren't all that great.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I don't like the heat

Wanting to buy a cold drip coffee brewer for a while but not being able to justify the $100's I decided to have a go at it myself.

It can't be that hard, the massive one at The Maling Room looked pretty simple.
Cold water slowly dripping onto ground coffee, taking several hours to complete the extraction.

50 grams, a 500mL water bottle with a slit cut into the lid and at the other end for a breather hole, the bottom chamber of an aeropress and a couple of paper filters - 5 hours later the glass was full.

Tasted good, needs some fine tuning but i'm happy with the outcome, picked up some El Sal Siberia at Sensory Lab today and i'll compare the cold drip and pourover tasting notes.

BNE Brissy Brisvegas - Brisbane's best coffee

I haven't tried much coffee outside of Melbourne apart from in Europe, so needing a break from Melbourne I chose to head north for some coffee.

My trip happened to coincide with the QLD heats of the Australian Barista Championship where I had the pleasure of judging in both the Barista comp and Latte Art comps - unfortunately this meant I didn't have time to take any photos of the competition.

I had great coffee at 3 places, not quite as good as Melbourne's best standards when they're in the zone but not far off - I did only visit once though so not a fair comparison.

Veneziano - The First Pour

It felt like I spent most of my time in Brisbane here, a full days judging and an afternoon of coffee before I headed to Sydney.
Was treated to more of the Rwandan that was my fave of the weekend, caught up with Wolffy and drank one too - a double ristretto tulip.
If you've been to the Melbourne First Pour it's a similar concept but Brissy has food and it's definitely worth dropping by.

One Drop Specialty Coffee

Ben & Blaine doing great things in a fairly new cafe.
Had a great flat white and still recall the blueberry finish from the Harrar in the blend that's roasted locally by Clean Skin Coffee Co.
The Costa Rica Herbazu (guest coffee roasted by Veneziano) short black was one of my faves of the trip, just pipped by the Rwandan Josh used in the latte art comp.

Chic Espresso

Was given the heads up by Ben about this place but arrived too late for the cupping he was running.
Both coffees I had here a few days later were excellent, using 5 Senses Dean is doing his roaster and his equipment justice.
Wish them all the best and i'm sure you'll be hearing more about them soon.

Cup Specialty Coffee
One to look out for...

Monday, December 7, 2009

New kids on the block

No it's not about NKOTB re-forming!

Since my last post 2 months ago (yeah I know, very slack) I know of 7 great coffee destinations that have opened in Melbourne.

Proud Mary
Stanley St (Cnr Oxford St)

I'm sure you all know about that 6 group Synesso by now.
There's plenty more to be excited by, the Clover, siphon bar, Giesen roaster, Anfobur grinders (Roburs with Anfim dosers) and pourover and french press too.
Serving some great single origins and pretty special tea.

It's become a popular hangout for anyone in coffee, i've bumped into people i've worked with or roast for each time i've been.
I'm glad I got to check it out on the first morning, it's been pretty busy since.

9 Yarra St
South Yarra

Opened in mid September and once they got their oven connected started trading 7 days and now offer a breakfast menu.

Part of the St Ali group doing some good things, started off with a cold drip brewer and siphon but not sure if they're still available.

Dead Man Espresso
35-37 Market St
South Melbourne

Housed in the spot that was to become the much hyped siphon bar, Canvas Town linked to St Ali and although you might recognise some ex St Ali faces that's as far as the relationship goes.

I've had some great pourovers here including the Aricha Lot 16 Angus is pouring for me in the pic.
When not in the mood for a filter coffee you can choose from either their own blend or the Seven Seeds blend.

Foxy Brown
31a South Crescent,

Located in a residential back street, Pat's created a great coffee focussed cafe.
They offer their house blend and a range of single origins which are all fair trade certified.
I wont get into the whole fair trade thing, i'll just say that it's good to see someone put so much effort into developing a blend with their roaster (Josh Bailey), it's almost like blends have gone out of fashion with the great single origins available lately, yet since starting to roast i've come to appreciate the art/skill in creating a blend - might need to go into it in a separate post.

Worth trying is the 'flight of coffees' if you're up for 3 shots back to back, a ristretto, espresso and piccolo latte of your choice of blend/origin.

Market Lane
Shop 13 Prahran Market
163 Commercial Road
(Entrance on Elizabeth Street)

The home of Melbourne Coffee Merchants located at Prahran Market - another must visit coffee destination!
Synesso, Roburs, Clover, pourover, a 5kg Probat roaster and a twin barrel sample roaster.
Many of the great coffees coming to Australia currently are due to Fleur Studd of MCM and this is where you can try many of them.
Currently you can choose from their seasonal espresso blend and a range of single origins.
Cuppings are help regularly and it was great to take part in one on the weekend, it generated great interest from the public that kept popping their heads into the room who were welcomed and left with a greater understanding of what specialty coffee is.

495 Collins St,
Melbourne CBD

Brought to you by Joseph of Cafenatics, Eclipse is a cafe i'm yet to check out.
I've heard great things about the coffee being served by the team that includes the current Victorian Latte Art champion, Wil Priestley with whom I used to work.

Sensory Lab

297 Little Collins Street,
Melbourne (David Jones)

If you haven't heard about the latest outlet of the St Ali group by now you dont read the paper, blogs or watch tv.
Again I haven't been yet but it will no doubt be added to any must visit list of coffee spots in Melbourne.

Apologies for both the lack of photos and lack of quality, bought a camera today so should be much improved next time - i'm sure every other Melbourne blogger has already covered most of these cafes anyway!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Auction Rooms - North Melbourne

103-107 Errol Street, North Melbourne

Espresso: La Marzocco FB70
Grinders: Roburs, Super Jolly & Ditting
Roaster: 15kg Vittoria with a new addition on the way
Other brewing options: Siphon, French Press (plunger)

The red Vittoria roaster in the background has been moved offsite to Small Batch

Having lived in the area for over 20 years I feel quite at home in Errol St, but wow, has North Melbourne changed in that time.
I used to live in West Melbourne, it was considered industrial when I was growing up, now you're lucky to find a warehouse that hasn't been converted into an apartment.
I used to get my bucket of hot chips after school at the take away shop that is now a 7-11 and Sam & Mary's had the best schnitzel rolls but that's now a noodle shop.
Back then the only reason to cross Queensberry St was to go the NAB, but not anymore.

Now there's Auction Rooms down the hill - and it's fast becoming one of my favourite cafes (I also recommend the food at Fandango a few doors up).

The coffee has improved greatly in the last few months and the food menu has been simplified since opening over a year ago, yet still covers a wide range.
As with most specialty coffee cafes and micro roasteries they offer a single origin or guest blend aswell as their regular house blend, other brewing styles and also sell beans to take home.
Auction Rooms has a 3 burner siphon bar and last I heard were preparing over 20 a day on a weekend, not bad for a country that only drinks espresso.

Alot has already been said of the fit-out, food and coffee so I wont go into detail and let the professional bloggers do that:
Melbourne Gastronome
Ryan on Coffee

Auction Rooms - great coffee, excellent service, good food and beer on tap!

I disagree with rating or reviewing coffee as too much damage can be caused by a blog post or tweet, a repuation shouldn't be ruined by just one bad experience.
So if I do post about a cafe chances are i've been there dozens of times, they dont just do espresso and on the whole the coffee is great...and yes, at each of the cafes i'll recommend (including Auction Rooms) I have had an average coffee, but having been behind the counter for over 4 years I know that 100's of things affect each coffee and sometimes it happens.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Coffee Storage

The way coffee is stored can make a huge impact on your coffee - but this isn't a paper versus valve bag battle.

Working for a coffee roaster I was able to see many good but also many bad practices when it came to storing roasted coffee in cafes.

I sometimes get calls from accounts having difficulty with their coffee and it is usually due to poor storage.
Most commonly it was left near heat sources that killed the coffee before its time such as in direct sunlight or on a shelf above a toaster/grill.

Another problem is that in summer cafes can get quite hot, especially here in Australia, therefore most cafes are air conditioned, however cafe owners do not realise how hot their cafes can get overnight when the air conditioning is not on.
An espresso machine is like a giant heater and once you add fridge motors it doesn't take long for a cafe to heat up, especially when it's still quite hot late into the night.

At The Maling Room, Andrew used to have his air conditioner on 24 hours a day and even had a second unit installed to cope with the extreme heat Melbourne is having to deal with each summer.
Andrew soon had enough of his crazy electricity bills so looked into other options - wine fridges for coffee, a world first?

A temperature and humidity controlled environment
Good enough for wine, why not coffee?

After hearing of the great results Andrew was getting during the summer of 07/08, Nolan Hirte (ex Liar Liar) paid us a visit and soon after also bought himself a pair of the same wine fridges.

But the correct storage of roasted coffee is not the only issue.
More roasters are considering the impact of proper green bean storage, both from origin and also at their roastery - where I currently work we store our green beans in a basement to keep them in a stable environment.

Vacuum packing and flushing green at origin is becoming more common, some roasters are even air freighting green from origin but what happens to the beans between ports on a ship?
Where on the ship is the container located, is it on the outer side in full sun for the journey or packed further down, surrounded by other containers?

What the wine and fresh produce industries have been using for years are climate and humidity controlled shipping containers, why cant we use these for coffee?
Maybe it's already being done, please let me know if so.

Thinking about this topic it's made me realise how far we as an industry still have to go to provide the best possible coffee for our customers.