When it comes to starting the day, many will argue the best accompaniment to bread or a pastry still warm from the oven is a cup of hot coffee. What’s more, many Australian bakeries have begun combining this duo and are now navigating the daily grind by roasting coffee beans onsite.
Mary Street Bakery / Offshoot Coffee
A frontrunner in the Perth baking scene Mary Street Bakery ticks all the boxes, from a local and sustainable ethos to an extensive range of bread and house-made doughnuts. If that wasn’t enough, in 2018 the team behind the store, Paul Aron and Michael Forde, decided to branch out and open a third arm to the business – the appropriately named Offshoot Coffee.
Aron said the decision to open the café was an organic one.
“Mary Street isn’t a specialty coffee shop, but we use a lot of specialty coffee practices. We try to make the best possible cup all the time,” he said to broadsheet.com.au.
“People see us as just a bakery, but coffee is a third of our business. We really care about it.”
Located at Hibernian Place in Perth’s CBD, Offshoot Coffee now roasts all the coffee beans used in each of Mary Street Bakery’s locations.
It was Mary Street Bakery’s coffee operations manager Rummy Keshet that led the charge, beginning with a single origin as an add-on to the business to feel out how it would fare with their patrons. Turns out it was an unmitigated success from the start.
“Do we know how to roast? Are our customers and baristas happy?” Rummy said about the early days.
“Paul asked me what’s the best roaster we could possibly find and I cheekily named the most expensive one.”
The roaster was a Loring S15 Falcon that had to be imported from the US. Rummy said while traditional roasters apply heat directly to the spinning drum that contains the coffee beans, similar to how a tumble dryer works, the Loring instead applies heat to the air inside the drum.
“A traditional roaster is like driving a truck and a Loring roaster is like driving a Ferrari,” Rummy said.
And the results speak for themselves.
Credited as being one of the initial Australian purveyors of the cronut craze that originated in NYC before swiftly taking the baking world by storm, Sydney’s Brewtown Newtown has long been a favourite with the city’s foodie crowd.
But it’s not just the “brewnuts” and extensive menu that Brewtown Newtown is known for.
The bakery café’s original owners Charles Cameron and Simon Triggs met while working at Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters, so it’s little wonder the duo soon added a house coffee range that was roasted onsite to the business plan.
That was in 2014, and despite a change of ownership and even a fire that tore through the premises in 2018, The Brewtown Newtown team still roast beans at the Newtown site each day. The coffee is used both in-store, as well as sold wholesale internationally.
The green beans are purchased directly from South American plantations to ensure not only high quality coffee but also fair working conditions for the farmers.
“Our guests aren’t just having a coffee on the way to doing something else. The coffee is the event,,” Charles said to Broadsheet Sydney prior to Brewtown Newtown’s opening.
“We’ve got a lot of coffee gadgetry, and if we think a particular origin is best at 95 degree Celsius then we can give the customer a really bespoke experience.”
Housed within the ever-popular Grounds of Alexandria, the Grounds Coffee Roastery has a backstory that reads like something out of a novel.
It begins when then-café owner Ramzey Choker decided he not only wanted to serve great coffee, but that he also wanted to learn how to make it himself. One quick Google search for “world’s best barista” and a phone call later and Ramzey had made contact with Jack Hanna, a World Latte Art champion, who taught him a thing or two about making the perfect coffee.
Fast forward to 2011 and Ramzey had a new ambition in his sights: to transform a disused industrial carpark in Sydney into a sanctuary that could be filled with wholesome food, gardens and, of course, coffee. So once again he teamed up with Jack and the rest is history.
The end result is The Grounds of Alexandria, a foodie and lifestyle hub that has gained something of a cult status amongst the foodie elite.
These days the former carpark looks a little different, and is home to not only the landmark café but also a restaurant and bar, bakery and patisserie, animal farm, florist, market and, of course, a coffee roastery.
“We love building places for people to connect. Most people who come here are either inspired or are escaping from their crazy life,” Ramzey said to Business Insider Australia.
The coffee branch of the business has also taken on a life of its own, with an entire team behind the daily roasting, which is sold both in-house and wholesale across Australia. There are also regular barista workshops, and in-depth site-specific training.
Jack may have stepped away from the hospitality industry, but he pointed out that is best piece of advice for other venues looking to expand into coffee is actually to not focus too much on it.
“As coffee professionals we might like a sweet, fruit coffee that’s very aromatic and floral, but the general public just wants a flat white or a cappuccino,” he said to Bean Scene Magazine.
Umina Beach’s Bremen Patisserie has made its name thanks to two items: the Flaming Ron pie, which at 1,463,700 scouville heat units is marketed as the hottest pie in the world, and the coffee that is roasted in-house.
In fact, according to Bremen Patisserie owner Ron Bruns the Arabica bean-based house blend is the business’s bestselling product.
“I get a lot of pleasure out of the theatre of coffee roasting and we like to share this experience with our customers who can come and watch the green beans turn a golden brown before their eyes and smell the sweet aroma of freshly roasted coffee that fills the bakery,” Ron says.
The patisserie also sells coffee blends from around the world with varying strengths and tastes. There is the Nicaragua Matagalpa blend with a soft yet intense flavour and lingering aftertaste, while the New Guinea Organic A Grade Light Blend that has a rich, full flavour with chocolate overtones.
“Roasted coffee beans are fresh for just one week after roasting, even with the advanced packaging we have available today. After this time the beans are stale,” Ron says.
“Unfortunately a lot of coffee drinkers have never tasted fresh roasted coffee. The beans have a uniquely clean flavour.”
If there is one thing Melburnites are known for, it is their love of a good coffee. Perhaps this is why many are happy to travel to Healesville, 52km north-east of the Melbourne CBD in the lush Yarra Valley, to grab a coffee at Habituel.
The brainchild of wine and beer mogul Phillip Sexton of Giant Steps and Innocent Bystander fame, Habituel’s sourdough – and the bakery’s starter, known as Leroy – has already earned itself a reputation of producing a standout sourdough with a crumb that is moist but keeps for longer.
But it’s the coffee, that is roasted upstairs, that is perhaps the real star of the show.
Roasted in a special prototype 20kg Buhler AG coffee roaster, dubbed the Roastmaster, two varieties are made in-house under the watchful eye of head baker and roaster Tahlia Davidson.
“We roast once a week. And so we have our blends that we use for most of our coffees and then just a single origin that we change fortnightly, but it’s been a bit hard trying to get in beans from everywhere with COVID,” Tahlia said.
“We’ve roasted our own coffee and made our own bread for a long time – we were a wine company originally so we needed good bread and good coffee to get us through a vintage – and there many other business in Healesville doing this 15 years ago.
“When we split the businesses up we found that our coffee and bread business was really growing and there were a lot of people travelling out just for our bread and coffee and so we opened Habituel four years ago.”
Tahlia said at Habituel the focus is placed on the core aspects of good coffee, bread and croissants.
“We want people to come here just for those. We really focus on having that perfect cup of coffee or that perfect bag of beans,” she said.