Descriptions like ‘smooth caramel texture’ and ‘zesty aftertaste’ are the kind of uber-specific things baristas say or that you see written on single-origin coffee boards. Such recounts of subtle flavours make you take a second sip, thinking, did I miss something? Did I kill my tastebuds in my early twenties? Because these notes of caramelized walnut and peach schnapps taste a whole lot like water filtered over bean. Don’t worry, in a lot of ways Melbourne’s coffee culture is still perplexing and overwhelming.
If you are still a little in the dark but love coffee and would like to learn more, the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival have a 17 day installment at Southbank you must check out. This beautiful leafy pop-up invites visitors to “take your palate on a journey”. For only a few dollars you can prop yourself at the bar and taste espresso of different blends, origins and flavours. Rather than racking your brain for descriptive words and possible ingredients the helpful bar staff guide you through what goes into the coffee, how the beans are treated and how that alters the taste.
The space is a multi-platformed industrial cafe with crates arranged into sitting spaces and tables. Poking between the cracks of crates is an abundance of greenery. Coffee plants are growing on the roof of the establishment and up the slanted landscape of the cafe-cum-farm. Having coffee in all its forms on site gives a sense of journey and care as we see snapshots of the process – from plant to the hands of hipsters. The mixture of urbanity and nature feels appropriate for Southbank, a suburb sandwiched between the city’s skyscrapers and our major park and river.
Every day the urban farm is being hosted by different popular roasters. Stepping up to the coffee machine over the festival are baristas from De Clieu, St Ali, Top Paddock, Market Lane and other high profile coffee shops around Melbourne. The tasting station and mini-cafe both aim to show off not only the tastes of exotic blends but also the skills and techniques of some of the best coffee masters from around the city, a world first concept. There’s also a range of workshops to help you get around using your sensory skills to pick a blend, understanding the perspective of a producer, what the hell drip coffee is and how to make delicious coffee at home.
The farm has hooked into the popular trend of transforming into a different venue at night time. When the sun goes down the brew bar hands over the reins to the masters of bartending. Cocktails are being shaken by the likes of Black Pearl, Longrain, The Lui Bar, The Woods of Windsor and other prestigious bars and eateries.
To check out who is blending beans and constructing cocktails each day, check out the daily showcase here.
URBAN COFFEE AND BREW FARM
Coffee available 8-4
Queensbridge Square, 1A Queens Bridge Street
Images by Hannah Bambra.