MCR has been finding great coffee for our readers since 2005. Our promises is choice and a voice to lovers of cafes and coffee wherever they may be. Please enjoy our articles on all things coffee. If you a roaster or a cafe, register with us (above). Welcome to MCR!
For a long time, I have tried to connect to the essence of our human nature through what is essentially only one man's observations through a coffee stained eye glass. I, along with others, wrote words to promise something closer to that sublime experience we all yearn for in our busy city lives.
When I started talking to roasters, semiconsciously what I wanted was to connect you, the coffee lover and enthusiast of all things coffee, to the real intention of the roaster. That intention is not just about flavour, while that's a big piece in terms of the craft, it’s also a reflection and a very real connection to people on lands far away creating coffee beans in a trade that is millennia old.
The business of coffee has at it’s roots, with coffee farmers on lands far away. These men and women support their families and support themselves by offering a little green bean that feeds into our big city coffee culture. Who wouldn’t like to stroll onto a farm in South America and sit with the farmer to enjoy and talk about the coffee, the forest around her, smells and sounds of exotic wildlife.
In that vein, when I sat with Steve from Industry Beans (IB), I was looking to connect to that, by osmosis if you like. Through Steve and Trevor (brothers in coffee) they could bring a little bit of that to our lives through their coffee. I am delighted to report that it’s as close as I have come to that feeling as Steve navigated through my questions and I was reminded why I love the coffee culture in Melbourne.
IB has as its touchstone in it's Fitzroy Street Blend. Off that, IB released its seasonal blends.
So, since I write this in the cold hard Melbourne winter (as beautiful as it is) we talked about how they go to the IB Winter blend. Steve describes it "The Winter comprises two coffees, both Africans, one washed from Burundi, the other a natural process from Ethiopia. We identified that the dominant flavours we wanted to express were present in the Matura Hills washing station in Burundi, however the challenge was finding something to magnify the somewhat delicate characteristics. By adding the lot from Korate, Sidamo, Ethiopia we were able to find the rich, syrupy texture and lovely sweetness to support the apricot and toffee notes in the Matura Hills, and round out the acidity nicely." I dug a little deeper into the process.
“...4 people blind cup (ie:taste according to a framework while not discussing what they are tasting), only afterwards comparing notes. We have actually developed our own internal cupping sheet, do the blind cupping and then we open the discussion. We cupped in May and released the winter blend last week. We do that every season, so we’ll start developing our spring blend in August".
So what are the customers saying? "Customers are loving it with both milk and without. Most attractive feedback from wholesale - round and satisfying!!"
A strong BUY recommendation from MCR...jump on!
How this works: IB has released, exclusively to MCR, a limited amount of their 'Winter Roast'. Click below to enjoy this amazing coffee!
Bill, Equilibrio's founder, was a old school roaster and blend developer when he decided to re-enter the industry as an independent. Burning with passion for the industry he chose to join with Mio, one of the stalwarts of the Melbourne coffee scene, and produce what he believes to be a return to the no nonsense traditional espresso coffee.
He told MCR “I miss the more traditional relationship with customers, which I think was lost in the boom of coffee over the last 10 years. Frank’s approach worked for me and we brought my thoughts and dreams into a no nonsense blend we call Equilibrio, try it and you’ll see!"
So, why Equilibrio? whats in the name?
Bill believes great coffee making is about balance, which is what Equilibrio means. "It’s a balance between great coffee, great equipment and great skills as a barista. We don’t just do coffee, we deliver on all three. It’s a dance of coffee if you like!”
In mixing these blends they tell MCR how they looked at what worked as an Italian style espresso, "we needed 4-5 different types of coffee! We believe that Robusta needs to be a part if that, and our prime objective and directive was to use Equilibrio as our third wave response to what was happening to coffee in the market. Classic Italian style; without that hint of bitterness. Try and balance acidity and astringency, Bitterness and body. There is a degree of bitterness so you need to ad sugar”. Ok, thats interesting… mind you most people MCR knows use sugar anyway, maybe making the coffee to suit that is not such a crazy idea.
Days to drink: 7-10 after roast. within 30 days of open.
Why partner with Mio?
Equilibrio is a startup roaster with an old School roasting company behind them. We see the tension resulting in great things for drinkers.
We've been reviewing cafes for over a decade now. It's time for a change of pace, a time to get to the core of the issue of great coffee and sublime experiences.
It's time to talk to the roasters!
There is a massive array of coffees across the world and tastes vary as much as there are coffee producers. For the record, I like a nutty chocolate coffee and my guess is that I am not alone. When I met with Jason at Naked Espresso Company (Naked's Founder), I was delighted to see his passion for all things coffee culminated in the Mega Choc blend, a 100% Arabica roast.
I asked Jason what the 'scoop' was with this Indian coffee. He assured me “There is a beautiful Indian coffee in them there hills, north of Bangalore”.
In the Buddan Ranges, Sethuraman Estate, they actually wash this Indian bean and ferment it for 24 hours. This produces a beautiful and unique bold flavour. It’s what we mortals love most about coffee!
The blend is comprised of 30% Indian (Sethuraman) and the rest is Brazil, Columbia and Indonesia. Not to diminish these countries, but like Hussein Bolt, we expect greatness from them.
Sethuraman Estate is one of the first plantations to grow Robusta right next to Arabica… How is this possible, you ask? Well, I am led to believe that there is an elevation zone that it is possible IF you get irrigation right. Basically, high altitude Robusta, washed Robusta and treat it like an Arabica...Mmm lets see what happens.
The farmer at Sethuraman (a 6th generation farmer) is an engineer by trade and has a complex (hopefully patented) irrigation system. Most other growers are ‘very old school’ and at the mercy of the weather. This is a real step forward and like all innovations, it will be copied soon (we expect greatness from you India).
Jason confessed he ‘fought’ with some customers about this coffee innovation as they were putting the blend together. “Indian coffee can be quite hard, that's why we soften it down...we were looking for that bold dark choice flavour. The Indian brings out those dark rich flavours!”
This is Naked Espresso's most popular bean and a stalwart of the business.
So, what do you need to know if you're using this coffee?
Making at home...as always, the slower the better. A fine grind is better, and a “35 second pour is what you will be looking for” according to Jason. “Being a dark medium roast, we have ‘pushed the sugars' (Carmalisation)… this is a hard coffee to over extract.”
What is the optimum time to drink?
You’ll get the coffee 7-10 days after roast. The ‘Harry Potter effect’ (the change) happens at 14 days and can be good up to 30 days. Optimal is 12-19 days. DO NOT PUT IN FRIDGE. Sugars and oils congeal if you put in the fridge...so you’ll damage the coffee. Definitely reseal. However, a dry dark cupboard is in order.
This is unique coffee that drinks well with milk or without milk. Filters, plunger, stove top...or espresso. It’s also great as aero press coffee.
When MCR drank it...
A delightfully delivered chocolatey coffee with bold notes and a distinctive sweetness. It delivers on its promise! In fact, we've been back a few times getting this story,.. ok I could have done it in one hit,.. but its good coffee!!
Overview of Naked Espresso Company.
This is a family business based in Melbourne with a strong heritage in coffee retail and wholesale. "We love talking directly to our end user, and having owned cafes myself, that's where my passion lies. We consider the domestic espresso market (home Barista) the cornerstone of our business and the industry."
We called the business Naked because we are obsessed by the naked group handle. Also, naked means transparency 'pure and authentic' - and maybe a bit naughty ;)
Special Deal for MCR
MCR has secured a limited release special deal for readers at a significant discount to RRP. Don't miss out!
Mega Choc Blend:
1kg: RRP $40 for $30 (limited to 50 units MCR only).
It was still dark as I rolled off my 15 minute attempt at meditation. I had been staring out of my balcony window listening to Nepean highway traffic slowly build from an occasional woosh to a hum of commuters in their giddy self talk in preparation for another day in the work place.
A moment later I am showered and in my car peeling through the early blue. Destination is Caulfield station to secure a free car park and a quick train zoom into the CBD. I read last weeks economist on my iPhone, and before I know it Flagstaff appears in the windows. I commence my steady escalation to the city floor headed for Ab’s, my barber of 15 years. I arrive at his shop and instead of the normal cue of middle aged hairy men waiting for service, I exult at spotting Aby sitting there alone, mind you it is 6.30am.
I’m greeted by old matey and offered my first shot of caffeine. I hesitate because I don’t do the pod espresso machines normally but I balance off the value of the moment. We talk as we sip or coffee’s with the conversation following the normal path, his business, my business, a guy he knows who is doing well, the economy in general and the last notable Melbourne underworld figure who got a haircut there. All the while I sense the mammoth journey of a million of these early morning Melbourne moments but notice that here, in these early hours, time stands still; an absence of rush if you like.
I am cropped and waxed (don’t ask) and I emerge from the shop scalp refreshed and renewed. I make my way down Little Collins street to Syracuse, an old mansion of sorts now a restaurant cum cafe bar owned by a buddy of mine. I grab my strategic and internet enabled spot, the managers greeting ebbs across the floor as he whips up the standard long mac he knows I take.
The music of the morning fills the room and I savour the last of the absence of rush.