All Posts By Jeremy Hulsdunk
Not long ago, I had never been to Albany. Not because I don’t like it or because it is a long way away, it was just circumstances. At least, I thought I had never been to Albany. I found out later that it was actually a regular holiday spot for my family while I was growing up — but that is beside the point. In any case, I was over the moon to have the opportunity to cruise down the highway to visit the newly opened café called Fredericks.
This week sees the start of the annual relationship between Hale School, Scope Café and the Australian Barista Academy — a partnership that has become one of the most proactive charity relationships in our calendar. Each year, a group of Year 11 students from Hale School in Wembley Downs, WA, get together to raise money for Nulsen Charity, a charity which provides services and support for people with a range of disabilities.
When I started to draw up a draft review of Uncle Joe’s, I thought I had the topics nailed. It’s an über-cool café down a side passage off King St. and already has a customer base among the hippest Perthanalities. What I discovered when I interviewed the owner Mark Cain is that the story runs much deeper. The ideas and culture that run through the café intertwine passion, ambition, family and a sense of community. These topics have visible influence on different aspects of the venue, the finest example being the name, Uncle Joe’s, which is a fitting nod to Mark’s Uncle, who played a big part in his life as he was growing up.
As a disclaimer before I get further into this article, I hope you are reading this on a mobile device because you want leave to get to Mount Street as quickly as possible. That’s because at the moment, Mount Street is without a doubt one of Perth’s best kept secrets – and it surely won’t stay that way for much longer!
I have been a regular in Leederville for a number of years. It is the closest café strip to where I grew up and in my stint as a student, Leederville was seen as Subi’s casual cousin. From that point of view, it would be negligent of me to write this café review for Foam and not mention Oxford 130, the super hip café of the 1990’s and 2000’s that once inhabited the space which Foam now occupies.
Choosing which single origin to test for this edition of the newsletter was pretty simple really. We were discussing what is coming off Jen’s ‘coffee boat’ and the Ethiopian Sidama came up as a recently harvested crop. So it was a bit of a no brainer, as it has always been a personal favourite. The Sidama has recently landed on our shore, and is sure to become a favourite with many other people as well.
After working in the coffee industry for a few years, the question I am most commonly asked is, “What country has the best coffee in the world?” This question is, unfortunately, so vague that it is actually impossible to answer, and even if I do give my opinion, it will be laced with ‘ifs and buts’ like these — “It depends on my mood” or “Is the only requirement espresso?” To be perfectly honest, most people regret asking me in the first place and can’t wait to go on their merry way.
I have to admit, I was a little nervous about this latest experiment from the Australian Barista Academy. When we come across common myths that exist in the coffee industry, we don?t normally subscribe to them until we have tested them thoroughly. This one though had slipped through the cracks. I don?t think I have ever properly tested (or if I have, at best it has been fleeting) the issue of why we keep coffee in the cupboard.
Following up on Ash’s ‘Super Automatic’ machine story, it’s clear that you can spend a lot of time and money buying a Super Auto, then playing with the settings to get a coffee that isn’t terrible, but it is much easier (and cheaper!) to get quality coffee using a filter.
It doesn’t take much for a day to turn from smooth to turbulent when you’re working in a café. I guess it is just part of the rollercoaster ride that defines the hospitality lifestyle! One of the things that can start the slippery slope towards anxiety is a coffee pour that just doesn’t add up — or a question posed by a customer that you just can’t explain.
On face value, looking at the quality of your puck may seem like a really weird thing to do, but it is essential to get the best out of your machine. The reason why this is becoming more important is because of the growing interest in buying electronically timed grinders over manual dosing models. So what is the dose? And how does that affect the quality of the puck?
Barista competitions can be extremely stressful. The only way a barista can prove their ability is by entering the competition, and therefore, everyone who makes it to the stage can be categorised as being in the top of the field. Competition preparation is daunting and the attention to detail is essential, which is why a competition barista will always be better in a café than one without competitive experience. With the lead up to the event being a bit of an emotional roller coaster, I’ve found that it’s crucial to be well-rehearsed and impeccably organised.
Here at the Barista Academy, whenever we grab a few seconds to make a coffee and relax, talk turns to cafés and dining experiences. Usually our conversations result in all of us going to try the latest new place in the market. On this occasion it was a little different, with Graeme from our technical department telling us every week of a little café in Manning called Whirlwynd.
How can you be sure that you’re buying a coffee that doesn’t exploit the people who grew it? The good news is that it’s actually easy to support the farmer who has laboured for many hours to grow and process your coffee.
As Australia’s appreciation for espresso culture grows, so does the popularity of home espresso machines. For some people, attempting to create the same balance of flavour that their favourite barista produces can seem extremely difficult. Actually, the secrets aren’t as clandestine as they seem to be. If you follow a few simple rules, it’s easy to make great coffee at home.
To manage workflow efficiently in your café, you don?t need to be a drill sergeant, shouting orders at the staff as if you?re facing battle conditions! Managing workflow is all about creating an effective structure and efficient operating systems. The goal is not simply to make coffee more quickly, but to do so while maintaining a high standard of quality.
After working with ‘moo juice’ for a number of years at cafés scattered around the globe, I have come to ask myself one thing; why did that first person milk a cow and drink it?! On a more professional note, I have found that milk is yet another of those pesky variables in coffee making. The final steamed product can vary, not just because it’s skim, hi-lo or full cream, but due to seasonal variations in the milk too.
One of the curious things about coffee making is that, historically, there has been no formal training structure. Most parallel pursuits (cooking, wine making etc) have formalised apprenticeships and education systems. Coffee making is often learnt from more experienced coffee makers or coffee roasting companies. This can lead to the perpetuation of some practices that are a total waste of time …
The naked portafilter is a tool that has applications in both a café setting and for the home enthusiast. Like one of those ‘magician reveals-all specials’ on TV, to an espresso enthusiast, the naked portafilter strips away the mystery as to what makes a terrific espresso coffee.