Sydney Espresso

Well, hi there.

This is my first ever authorship in terms of blogging, so thanks so much to Sarah and Ken for allowing me to use their space to do so. I’ve got a few things I’d like to post about, but for now I’m going to give you what will probably end up a painfully long and detailed summary of the recent coffee tour of David Cooper and his family when they visited Sydney last week after the recent WBC in Tokyo.

Dave is a sitting member on the WBC board and all round driving force in the UK – and a real character of the international coffee community

This is Cooper in his MacGyver coat which he bought to accomodate his multitude of camera lenses. Unfortunately when we pointed it out the humour was lost on him as he didn’t know who MacGyver was…seriously.

Cooper is writing an article on the Sydney coffee scene for the UK press, so he asked to be taken to a few different styles of location in order to get a good understanding of what is happening in Australia. As usual, he couldn’t believe the extent of espresso in our industry until he saw it for himself.

I’ve decided not to post on the coffee itself, as each place does a superb job in a unique and interesting style – just take notes on the very different style, location and setup of each.

Our first stop of the morning was Campos coffee in the inner west suburb of Newtown about 10 minutes from the Sydney CBD.

Campos at 11:45am – this was the quiet time we arranged to meet with the owner Will Young.

Campos was a stop for two reasons – one as it’s arguably the best example of a true Australian Espresso Bar around, and two as Cooper’s friend and international barista of mystery Deaton Pigot has been working at Campos since returning from 3 years travelling the international coffee scene.

Deaton and Cooper behind the counter while the other three full time baristas and the owner Will Young attend to the customers.

Campos is a bit different to many other espresso bars in Sydney. Not only do they pump out around 165kg per week in six days, 7 – 4pm but there is a (reasonably) strict policy of no talking between the baristas or generally to the customers while they’re working – not that they’d actually have time to talk!

They have a simple setup of wooden hoppers on the wall, vintage coffee equipment lining the shelves and a few black and white photographs of various coffee related items on the walls. Other than that the main feature of the shop is the long wooden bench dedicated to espresso production.

These guys are mesmorising to watch… and the truth be told I’ve never seen any set of barista’s work so fast, or so in sinc with each other.

Most of the staff have been working at Campos with Will for at least 3 years, and there is a kind of heirarchy in terms of what each barista is allowed to do in relation to coffee production. There is Barista 1 & 2 and then an allocated milk person who steams jugs of milk and grinds and doses the occasional decafe coffee. Deaton being very new to the team was milk boy!! (Steaming only, not quite pouring!)

Barista II pours a cappuccino for a customer – dusted with chocolate powder on the crema before the milk is added to heighten the Latte art.

The other interesting thing about Campos is they have a unique and creative ordering system for coffees which is paperless and complex – placement of spoons, icons and sticks on the saucers dictate to the baristas which coffee they need to make and in what order.

Double shot decafe cappuccino – hot…. I think!

Will and his team were incredibly generous and patient with their time and attention considering how stupidly busy they were, so thanks team!

After Campos the Coopers and I headed across town and south to Allpress Espresso. Allpress are the only importer and distributor of both La Marzocco espresso equipment and Clover in Australia, so they’ve got a unique position in the market and quite a different approach to Campos.

Allpress is originally a New Zealand brand which was bought to Australia by restauranteur Tony Papas and has a good commercial distribution across Sydney and the east coast of Australia.

The shop was recently renovated extensively and I was curious to see what they’d done to change it. Apart from an enormous amount of very expensive looking marble, they had installed what was until recently the only functioning Clover brewer in Australia. I only got to take two photos as they were not happy with us snapping the shop or the Clover, so here is the only other one I took of Cooper and Jacqui getting a Clover lesson.

We tried a Mountain Top Coffee Bundja Single Origin through the Clover. Just for a change from the usual espresso, but still the caffeine shakes were starting to show.
After we left Allpress we headed back into the city for some lunch… and maybe a coffee …

at Mecca Espresso Bar.

Mecca is well known in Sydney as probably the best cafe in terms of coffee, food and friendly staff, and owner Paul Geshos has the uncanny ability to attract some of Sydneys best baristas to come work for him. These guys are great mates of mine and always available for a coffee, chat and a hug.

Mecca – Paul Geshos (owner) Alex Kum and Reuben Mardan

I guess you’d call it italian style – the food is a variety of tasty panini, simple cakes and coffee. The centrepiece of the store is a 3 group Mistral which is responsible for most of the coffee, but their backup machine (used at morning peak trade) is a 2 group Synesso hidden on the back counter.

The boys use a combination of coffee from Rio Coffee in Adelaide and occasionally roast & experiement with their own on a small roaster installed in Paul’s garage (they can only use it late at night as the neighbours have complained about the smell!) Either way they do an amazing job which has seen them grow since their opening just over 18 months ago to an average of about 80kg per week in 5 1/2 days.

This is all in an area where we counted more than 15 other espresso bars within 2 minutes walk.

Again, these guys were incredibly generous with their time, space, thoughts and ideas…. cheers boys.

Paul, Alex, Cooper and Bradley behind the counter at Mecca.

So there you have it, a quick if albeit long blog around a few of Sydney’s espresso bars. We then took the Coopers out for dinner and a few drinks… but we’ll save that one for another day!

Thanks again Ken and Sarah – Emily x

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