Zoe, Kōkako's Business Development Manager, headed to Melbourne last month for MICE 2018. Below is her report on what's going on over the ditch, at MICE & beyond.
I arrived in Melbourne with a desperate need for (good) coffee – I had so much to achieve and so little time. Where does one start? My accommodation was in Brunswick so headed straight for Code Black and All Day Donuts before I jumped on a bike and made my way to Rumble Coffee Roasters, to catch up with my brother who roasts there.
Code Black — 15-17 Weston St, Brunswick and All Day Donuts — 12 Edward St, Brunswick
The next day began with a ride along the packed cycleway to Kines, a very cool café/furniture pop up store with music played on record. Its in Brunswick East and has a coffee roastery at the back of the store, the coffee was epic!
Kines — 11 Hope St, Brunswick
I dropped the bike off and jumped on a train to the CBD visit Dukes on Flinders, such a small space that is just so busy! With an Ethiopian filter coffee to warm my hands I make my way up to Emporium, a big shopping mall which has a 3rd floor food court. The design and function here is top level, it’s a beautiful space and shows the direction shopping precincts are heading. Across Elisabeth Street and up the laneways I wander into Short Stop and love the space. Donuts dreamily stare up at you while you order coffee. I loved the use of space and small wooden seat out front to enjoy your coffee!
Short Stop — 12 Sutherland St, Melbourne
Further up the laneways I head to Krimper, coffee by Maker, great service and as always in Melbourne a single origin is offered for black coffee. I had a Colombian Long Black, which wasn't the best I’ve ever had. Lunch here looks great but I'm already on my way to Operator 25.
Operator 25 is sitting 1st equal in the places I went to in Melbourne, everything here was perfection! It's busy, slick and fun with a great menu and efficient staff. It's housed in an old phone transfer building and it's all playing off this theme.
After lunch the next coffee stop is Industry Beans on Little Collins which has a 4 group Mod Bar setup and makes 900 coffees per day. It's a pumping shop very clean and beautiful design. I had a great time chatting with the manager here about the Mod Bar - it was great to learn more about this cool piece of kit!
Mod bar at Industry Beans — 345 Little Collins St, Melbourne
That’s far too much coffee, off to Rumble Coffee Roasters now for a seminar. It was run by Nadi Ellis who has written a book called Count More Beans. Nadi is an trained accountant but is also a café owner and has a few tips for our industry on how to make a profit, no easy feat! It was a great seminar where I met some inspirational café owners. By the time my brother and I get home we are starving and ready to cook dinner. What a day!
Rumble Coffee Roasters — 8 Thompson St, Kensington, Melbourne
Whilst at Krimper the day before I noticed a place called Brick Lane, so on
day three I jump on a train and head here for breakfast. I gave this place a 1st equal rating with Operator 25. Everything here from the coffee (Rumble) to the service, environment and food was epic. Originally set up by Rustica but recently sold its good to see the new operators carrying on the high standard here.
Uptown I head to Axil for a coffee date with Fu, ex-head barista at Kokako Café, it was great to catch up but Coffee I wouldn’t repeat however! Around the corner Little Bean Blue is a coffee shop punching in a heavy weight class for a small spec - something Melbourne cafes do so well!
Hash is the last one on my list today, cool space hidden down another lane. By this time Im coffee’d out but a sparkling Matcha hits the spot.
MICE – Melbourne International Coffee Expo
A quick coffee stop at Breakfast Theives (amazing, I have gone back for breakfast if I was staying longer!) to see my step sister who was on the machine there and then I was on my way into town for breakfast at Higher Ground with Sam, our Head Roaster at Kōkako. I love Higher Ground and it's obviously been a long road to get here for the group who created it. It's an exemplar of what can be achieved with the right bank balance, experience and staff training. It ran like a well-oiled machine and is busy all the time!
Higher Ground — 650 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
MICE has been something I have wanted to attend for a few years, it’s the biggest coffee trade show in the Southern Hemisphere. I had a bit of a list of things I wanted to check out - new grinders, cold brew makers, steam wands, milk dosing systems and machines. I also wanted to get to know some more industry professionals from across the ditch. I came across some great new items which I look forward to learning more about as they come to NZ. It was great to visit and I would have liked to stay longer but we had to get off to the airport to be back home in time for The NZ Coffee Festival.
The Melbourne café scene has always been first rate and it was fascinating to get back here again, my last visit was in 2010. All the good coffee shops I visited this round had a La Marzocco machine, 2 electronic espresso grinders (one for single origin black coffee one for white coffee), an EK43 and then on top of this either a cold batch brew or a cold drip or a cold brew on offer too. I saw an interesting selection of bubble teas, and other cold drinks to complement the coffee service.
The cafes that stood out to me had friendly but efficient service which unfortunately wasn’t as common as you would hope. A lot of the time the barista were not engaging with their customers and at times this would come across as arrogant, very different to the commonly chatty NZ baristas. There is a balance to strike when making coffee well while talking with customers but I think engaging with your coffee drinker is a really key part of our industry and something NZ baristas do very well.