Code Black Coffee Roasters, the most recent project of Australian coffee maven Joseph Haddad, has established itself in a little more than a year as a strong contender in coffee-crowded Melbourne.
Although Haddad hasn’t yet expanded Code Black into a chain of cafés–as he did with Cafenatics, a venture that now has twelve outposts–one of his relatives has recently opened a Montreal café that shares the name, the look, and even the spirit of his Australian model.
“I’ve known Joseph since childhood in Lebanon, we are cousins and best friends,” explains Montreal transplant Gus Haddad. “He moved to Australia, I came to Canada, but we have always stayed close. It was during a trip to Melbourne that I started to catch the passion for coffee that Joseph has had for a long time.” Gus says that Joseph agreed to let them use the Code Black brand, and sent over a team that included Code Black chief roaster Archie Chiu, to help with the opening. (Gus, who shares the ownership with Montreal-based partner Asha Haber, insists that his cousin, though not involved financially, acts as a “godfather” for the whole project.)
Café Code Black enjoyed a quiet opening during the holiday season and is now starting to find its groove. Located in a long, narrow space on Saint-Laurent Street–Montreal’s “Main”–the café recalls its Australian namesake with ample use of wood, steel, and concrete. There is a glass-enclosed ‘atelier’ at the back of the café where Haddad plans to host cuppings, demonstrations, formations, and different coffee-related activities.
There are two La Marzocco espresso machines (one in the atelier) and the staff is working according to the guidelines of Code Black in Australia. Unfortunately, they are not using Code Black Coffee at present time. “We had some for three weeks at opening, but the cost of importing coffee from Australia is really prohibitive,” explains Gus Haddad. “We are trying to find a way to roast here in the future, and Archie's presence this winter helped us with some good insights on that. For the time being, we have made a deal with Canadian Roasters Phil & Sebastian.”
Gus hopes to be in the coffee business for the long haul and wants to take his time. “Many people criticized us for opening at the worst time of the year, but that gave us a few months to experiment and to make sure everything was running smoothly. We have plans for expansion, other cafés on the Plateau, but I’d rather wait a full year of business before going ahead.
“Specialty coffee is not an ordinary business. You cannot just put money on the table and open a café. You have to be passionate and take pride in everything you serve. It’s especially true for me as every coffee served here bears the name of our family business. At the end, I feel future associates will have to be in the family, at least in the ‘coffee family’!”