Recently, I moved from the city of Melbourne to Adelaide—the capital of South Australia, just a seven-hour drive east of Melbourne. As always, there were a number of different motivations behind the move, but a large part of it was the opportunity to work vintage with natural winemakers in the Adelaide Hills. While it was sad to leave the booming specialty coffee industry in Melbourne, there’s a passionate and steadily growing scene in Adelaide that I couldn’t wait to cover. It’s serendipitous, then, that the first piece I headed out to write about in South Australia be on Dawn Patrol Coffee—a roastery located on the northern edge of the Fleurieu Peninsula wine region in Kangarilla.
This is no local corner cafe. Dawn Patrol is a beautiful, custom-built roasting facility created by Dom Ossa and Nick Suggit, a 45-minute drive away from Adelaide city, and open to the public only on Sundays. Besides these weekly open days, Dawn Patrol is a wholly wholesale business, supplying notable Adelaide cafe clients like S.A.D. Café, Stirling Cellars & Patisserie, and others.
While chatting to Ossa as he brewed some delicious filter coffee one sunny Sunday morning, I learned that Dawn Patrol’s rise as a roasting company was quite an organic progression. In the beginning, Ossa and Suggit messed around with the usual home roasting apparatus, the likes of popcorn makers, Hottops, and a Behmor sample roaster. From there they began roasting multiple samples to create kilos of coffee, and getting feedback on their roasts through their mates at S.A.D Café in the city. As Ossa explained, “S.A.D. was our testing ground. We were putting heaps of coffee through there… some good, some questionable—how else do you do it? Nobody shows you how to roast, so that’s how we did it. Then we started picking up more customers, and had to up our game.”
As they continued to learn and develop, they decided to set up a professional roastery, a step facilitated by Ossa packing up and moving to a house in Kangarilla—one with ample room for a roasting facility and tasting room. Here they installed a Has Garanti HG15 roaster, subsequently setting up a Slayer espresso machine, three Mazzer grinders for espresso, a Ditting for filter brewing and cupping, and an array of manual brew equipment including Hario V60s and Kalita Waves for coffee service.
With everything in place, they opened the doors to the public on Anzac Day this year (that’s April 25th this year for all you non-Antipodeans), with something of a different format than your typical cafe. “We had to try and figure out some sort of format for coffee tasting, because you don’t want people to be over-caffeinated straight away,” Ossa outlined. “Filter is one of my favorite things—so we serve a little bit of filter from different origins, people get their head around it, then move on to end it drinking whatever coffee they usually drink. Or, they can follow up with an espresso tasting, for those hardcore nuts.”
In finessing this format and their approach to the unique space, Ossa and Suggit found a lot of inspiration during a visit to Aunty Peg’s in Melbourne—a fitting muse in its similar “cellar door” approach to the roastery/cafe combination.
But how do you draw that analogy when coffee comes from thousands of kilometers away? Dawn Patrol currently source all their green coffee from overseas through quality green purveyors Melbourne Coffee Merchants and Silo Coffee. Ossa is hoping to find some quality Australian coffee in the near future, to bring it a little bit closer to home. “I’m going over to Queensland next month and I want to get some Australian coffee. I know that it can be really shit—I’ve tried quite a bit of Australian-grown coffee, and we don’t really have the altitude, I know that… but they grow some beautiful varietals up there so I’m going to try and find the best I can.”
It’s an exciting time for coffee in Adelaide, and Dawn Patrol are on the cusp of that. Places like Dawn Patrol and other newly established roasters such as Monastery Coffee signal the beginning of a new wave of options for coffee lovers here. It reminds me of the plethora of small, unique coffee roasters that continue to pop up in other capital cities like Melbourne and Sydney. Within this, Ossa sees potential for the industry to unite and learn more together, “Adelaide as a community needs something. We like having people talk and get together, and have a little bit of a coffee community.” I can’t wait to see what happens next.