Trader Chats are an opportunity for our online community to get to know the unique business owners that call Albion Fine Trades home. First up, Alex Ridgway from Neighbourhood Coffee Roasters – pour a coffee, you’re in for a good read.
Neighbourhood Coffee Roasters is a coffee purveyor specialising in roasting on-site daily. Hidden at the rear of the precinct, this roastery produces the majority of its offering on-site, including five signature coffee blends. With the Alex and wife Steph leading the team, this cosy warehouse-like café boasts its own vegetable garden in the outdoor terrace which supplies the seasonal breakfast and lunch menus.
Eavesdrop on our coffee catchup:
Alex, explain the difference between Single Origin and Blends: A single origin coffee can best be described as one variety of coffee grown at one farm. It’s most often the case that single origin coffees exhibit a distinctive character but may lack in another, meaning they may lack balance when considering acidity, sweetness and body.
Coffee Roasters blend so they firstly can repeatedly offer a coffee with identical acidity, sweetness and body year in year out. It is also a wide space for creative interpretation of bringing coffees together in one bag that complement each other. As a guide, never buy into a blend with nine different coffees in it. Look for blends with only 3 different coffees, so you can enjoy all of them together.
What countries do you source beans from and how does the growing climate affect the taste of each crop? Too many regions to mention them all!
Yearly mean temperature and yearly rainfall affect the flavour of coffee in the same way it affects wine, so we might not always buy the same coffees each year due to this variation. What is interesting is the positive effect on coffee flavour when coffees are grown above 1,000 metres. They get more UV light due to less dust in the atmosphere and cooler nights which is better for fruit ripening.
Choosing a single origin where the altitude is mentioned is often an indication of a great green bean. It also increases the density of the coffee seed which can make roasting them tricky.
You seem to have direct relationships with those farmers – how do you manage these long-distance relationships? The internet has brought these relationships together where we can see images of the farms, talk with farmers even via Instagram, and understand their issues and how partnerships can form. We also must respect the role brokers play in the guarantee of quality.
What’s one myth about coffee roasting? The bigger the roaster the less control you have overheat, buy coffee from places who roast on less than 35kg batches and where the owner knows how to roast and has a passion for food and all things sensory.
On average, how many coffees do you have a day? Three
What’s your coffee order – your blend of choice, milk or no milk, preferred temperature etc.? I row and coach 4 days a week on the river, so I get up at 4:10am and make an oat flat white after that, staff hand me a lot of black versions during the day.
Word in the neighbourhood is that you provided the Australian Cricket team with a “coffee package” for the test hosted in England. How did this come about and how do you feel about fuelling “the boys!”. Cricket Australia is just around the corner and some of the guys took a machine on tour while in quarantine and we packaged something special for the lockdown.
Why do you think people get so attached to “their” barista? Barista’s are expected to work firstly at pace, have an intrinsic knowledge of the coffees flavour, skilled at calibration of the machine and grinder, remember many names and smile when someone wants 3 sugars in it.
In your view – what makes a good barista? A person who drinks coffee enough that they want to improve how they make it.