We keep hearing whispers, rumblings, rumors of a highly advanced (and frankly delicious!) coffee scene taking shape in the Australian capital city of Canberra. Rest assured, Canberrans, we'll be sending a reporter your way soon to scope out the scene, and today there's one more cafe to queue up for that forthcoming report.
Picture it: a team of coffee nerds works together at an influential specialty micro-chain, band together to do their own thing, and bring in a geek's delight of fabulous gear and delicious coffee to make their dreams come true. It's a third wave coffee story as old as time, and it's happening right this very second in Canberra at Coffee Lab, set to open later this week. Let's get amongst it!
As told to Sprudge by Danny Wilson.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your company, and how it all got started?
My name is Danny Wilson and I’m the head barista and trainer at Coffee Lab. Our team has previously worked on a small chain of specialty coffee shops called Espresso Room, but when we were invited to open a shop in this new space we knew it called for something a little bigger…
Can you tell us a bit about your new space?
We’re located right on the edge of the Canberra CBD with a fantastic north-facing aspect which gets natural sunlight all day. The interior is much larger than many of the surrounding coffee shops but by using big windows at the front and creating a couple of cosy nooks it’s become a super comfortable space. I’m really excited about the massive concrete bar and our wall of coffee bags which genuinely looks like pallets of green beans stacked at the roastery.
What's your approach to serving coffee?
We love breaking down the science behind coffee. Not only are we looking at ideas surrounding extraction yield and TDS% but we’re exploring the chemical makeup of our water, looking at organic acids, and dissecting the content of milk. The more we can understand about the science behind coffee from the soil to the solubles and from the bean to the brew, the more we can improve quality and consistency in the coffee we serve. Expect to see on offer at least 2 milk-based blends, a single origin espresso, and filter options.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We have the fantastic privilege of working very closely with local roaster ONA Coffee. Their green bean sourcing division, Project Origin, is one of the best in the country not only because of the amazing product they source but also what they give back to the communities at origin. Thanks to project origin, I got to use one of the first natural processed coffees to come out of India at the Australian barista championships, and a week after helped raise money to put electricity in the homes of the people who picked the coffee–pretty special stuff! The roasting team is also pushing the boundaries of quality so you can expect some tasty coffees.
Our equipment line-up reflects our mentality of quality and consistency. We’ve secured 2 of the first Sanremo Operas to give us exceptional control and repeatability with our espresso service, something which is so important in the Australian coffee market. Unfortunately the machines are still on route from Italy: we’ve got a Nuova Simonelli T3 and La Marzocco GB5 until they get here. Filter coffees and teas will be brewed on an Alpha Dominche Steampunk, we’ve selected the Mod 2.1 to be mounted directly into the bar. We really wanted to offer filter coffee at the standard of a great manual brew with the speed and consistency we’ve come to expect from espresso. As for grinders, we’ve got a fleet of modified Mazzer Majors we developed in conjunction with one of the best brains in coffee, as well as the ubiquitous Mahlkönig EK43 on the way.
What's your hopeful target opening?
This week! The builders have put the final touches down on the fit-out and we’ll open as soon as the machines are installed and operational. Also keep an eye out as we’re planning a whole day of free coffee to celebrate the opening.
Are you working with craftsmen/women, architects, and/or creatives that you'd like to mention?
JPL Building have done an amazing job with the construction; they’ve really done the space justice.