Bump! This is the sound when a Kiwi Latte Art Champion, specialty coffee and a hole in the wall collide. It is also the name of a brand new coffee shop, just opened in the trendy suburb of Newmarket, Auckland.
After winning the 2013 New Zealand Latte Art Championship, and taking 6th place in the World Latte Art Championship, Auckland-based barista Sam Low decided to leave his role as a barista at Atomic Coffee Roasters to open his own shop; on the topic of this departure, Mr. Low told me he was “more inspired by the building than wanting to move away.” Walking through the city last August – winter around these parts – he bumped into this small space between buildings on Kent Street, and knew on the spot that he had to have a coffee shop there. Hence the name, Bump Coffee Brewers.
“Bigger companies are coffee focused, but there are reasons for people to visit them other than coffee,” Mr. Low told me by way of introducing his new cafe. “I want to concentrate solely on coffee. I am not doing this for money.” No fooling there. The tiny shop is only about 4 meters square with simple, Melbourne inspired décor–brick wall on the back, timber ceiling and concrete everywhere else. The façade is made of corrugated iron and a tiny wooden window that opens downwards, serving as a kind of standing table for gregarious guests.
Inside, a 2 group Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II and a Mazzer Robur take up most of the central space. Sharing the counter is a glass food case, serving classic Kiwi bites such as slices and Danishes from Atomic Roasters and Wildwheat Specialty bread. No trendy stuff like Cro-nuts here.
On the back counter sits the filter coffee setup: two Hario V60s (Sam is a big V60 lover) and a Baratza Vario grinder. Despite the tiny footprint of Bump, there is plenty of room behind the bar for the barista to swing around, making it a bit of a barista’s heaven of intimate, workable professional space. Right now there's a collection of beautiful iron and wood stools outside, and there will be additional outdoor tables in a few weeks (there's no space inside for chairs).
Reflecting a trend towards simple menus around the world, Bump offers just 3 types of drinks: black, white and filter, limiting the choices for consumers and concentrating on what is good in the cup. Mr. Low is using the Veloce blend from Atomic Coffee Roasters for his espresso. For filter, Sam will be using a couple of Auckland roasteries: Espresso Workshop and BeSpecialty, who offer a variety of seasonal single origins with high sourcing transparency.
“This is me, in a shop form. I visited a few different designers but they all went way off topic. So I designed this myself. Creating an identity was really fun. It feels like the project is really you.” Sam Low wants Bump to be someday recognized nationally and internationally, and he might want open more Bump locations in the future, though he wouldn't want the brand to go off track and lose its coffee focus. “You can’t have a shop that’s called Bump that has 70 seats inside. It has to be tiny.”
When we talked about his recent trip to Nice for the World Latte Art Championship, Sam told me it was “definitely an eye opener,” and he hopes it can help “put Bump on the map” in terms of recognition and customer base. A national championship win and placement in the World Latte Art Championship top 6 does carry with it a certain cache; though no award can guarantee customers, accolades like these help create a sense of trust that the barista knows what he or she is doing.
Bump is located in 2-8 Kent St. It is hidden behind the front building, nestled inside a newly renovated walkway alongside neighbors Pocket Boutique selling trendy international brands, and York St Mechanics, a combination motorbike workshop and restaurant/bar. Go check it out–they're open 7:00AM to 3:00PM weekdays, and 9:00AM to 4:00PM weekends.
Albert Au (@albertacp01) is a working barista based in Auckland, New Zealand. This is his first feature for Sprudge.com.