Monday, May 31, 2010

out and about in Melbourne coffee town!

The image says it all, really...

FTR _ all of these images were taken on my Iphone using Hipstomatic....lovely app that!

Espresso, St ALi - lovely citrus zip on the finish...

Cold Syphon @ Outpost - its the biz!

Mistral @ Dukes Coffee Roasters (Dukes of Windsor?)

Pla @ Outpost - if there's a better front of house person in Melbourne they had better put their hand up right now!

Ahhh... The age old question... Seven Seeds Vs BBB... for my money its BBB phenomenal attention to detail and coffee to die for!

More of the above @ BBB

The incomparable Auction Rooms in North Melbourne - where great coffee is made finer by excellent imbibing surrounds...

wheel of fortune at Market Lane Coffee Roasters...

its all about the process at market lane...

nice, er, stack!

well, as you can no doubt tell, I've been busy recently frequenting Melbourne's finest cafes in search of the illusive perfect coffee. Does it exist? Who can tell? Its certainly subjective anyway, but here are some images of a few of my favourites. Above is a Flat white from Proud Mary, in all its fineness...

Here's an image of a naked light bulb at Monk Bhodi Dharma in East St Kilda - and yes, they have damn fine coffee!

Atomica in Brunswick Street - no coffee journey would be complete without it...

Some green beans at the Mailing Room

Brief respite at Atomica from drinking 15 coffees in one day!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

coffee n stuff

Wow! Can it have been so long since I blogged last?

So much has happened in so (seemingly) little time! So its about time I set the record straight (or at least updated it!)

Firstly and perhaps most importantly we've tweaked our espresso blend for the umpteenth time - and I'm really happy with the coffee we're producing at the moment

And that's saying something as I'm a bit of a perfectionist - so I'm not generally happy unless I feel that we've accomplished our goals in certain areas

But here in one avenue that I'm definitely proud of! I've been working closely with our master roaster, Joshua Bailey of Bailey Coffee, in Errol Street, North Melbourne, and his soon to be opened warehouse project: Provost Works, in the street of the same name (you heard it here first folks)

ANd we've been experimenting with and running with around a dz single origin coffees at the cafe, in addition to our espresso blend - and I must say it makes my work life interesting and keeps me motivated always having fresh, new, and exciting coffees to play with!

And having spent many years of my working life as a sommelier, I feel that I have a pretty good palate when it comes to accessing coffees, and to me it takes a good palate and a clear vision of the flavour profile that you want to create, when it comes to creating an espresso blend

For me I was pretty happy with the blend that we had been using, but I felt that it needed some cinnamon / spice flavours combined with raisin toast flavours on the mid palate - and adding some El Salvador El San Molino washed arabica orange bourbon to the mix - really helped to bring out the flavours that I was looking for

And as an added bonus the blend drinks exceptionally well incredibly young - say four days post roast - which is far from ideal when it comes to ageing coffee (I personally prefer our coffees 11 days plus post roast as this best suits the roast profile), but is realistic from time to time when we get an unprecedented rush on coffee

Besides I would rather drink fresh coffee that's a bit too young (as long as its drinking well and not just all bubbles) than stale crap that's been sitting on the shelf or warehoused for too long - any day of the week!

So we arrived at the blend by a variety of methods - but not least of all by mixing ingredients together 'on the fly' - when we're busy, and by tasting and evaluating as we go

Also, I like to watch how the coffee - or a combination of coffees - pours through the espresso machine, as this too provides an indication as to how its going to taste

When you know that the grind settings are right, and the coffee comes out all gooey and syrupy, with a nice dark brown / brick red colour - you can be pretty certain that you are onto a good thing, and the palate backs this up...

What else is new?

New staff of course! We've been getting busier and busier (as anyone who's been there on the weekend will soon attest - today we had folks cueing at the door, waiting to get in!) - which means more staff to cater for more customers

ANd I'm loving the vibe of the place when its packed to the rafters and the food and coffees are coming out smoothly

It becomes kind of elemental when you find yourself hitting your stride, and everything just seems to fall into place

Which is not to say that mistakes don't happen and that folks don't complain from time to time - they most definitely do! But its the mark of any establishment - how you cope under pressure and how well you can service customers when things don't go according to plan

Besides which we've been trading for an incredible seven months now - and I think its taken us easily that long to get our procedures in order, and our systems in place. And this is always an ongoing process as staff change from time to time, and the roster changes constantly - so you're always in theory at least working out new dynamics

Looking forward to a few changes around the place - still waiting on a second POS terminal to relieve congestion behind the counter (how long can it take!) - and we've got some great artworks on the way as soon as we get the picture rails up!

Changes to the menu have been implemented - well... it was more like building some of the popular daily specials into the menu structure, really, and more changes are currently afoot... but you'll have to keep coming in to find out what they are...

ANd our new and impressive range of organic and gluten free cakes and our muffins (all of which are baked in-house) have been selling like, well... hot cakes!

This autumn weather is great for business (as long as we're not rained out) - as coffee and cake sales have been going off in the afternoon

We've also recently cracked a few milestones: 300 coffee per day days on the weekend and around 150 coffee sales per day (on a good day) during the week - these were the targets that I set for the store upon opening - so now its time to raise the bar higher!

ANd while we're at it - how come Friday's are so busy? Its's like people are saving up all their coffee credits until the end of the working week!