Sunday, 19 February 2012

Single Origin Roasters

This week feature cafe belongs to Single Origin Roasters. This is my first interview with a roaster! For those who had read my earlier blog would have found this roaster name familiar. That's right, the beans that was used by Cafe Creasion is roasted by Single Origin.

Chef Yu Sasaki from Cafe Creasion recommended Barista Shoji Sasa from Single Origin for the interview. An interview session was aranged over the phone with Barista Shoji to be held at the Single Origin cafe in Surry Hills.

The cafe is located within walking proximity to Central Station and about 10 minutes walk from Haymarket. Surry Hills as a suburb covered a broad area with two very well known streets. Crown street is the heart of the suburb featuring many restaurants, cafes and fashion stores.

The other main street that draw the boundary of Surry Hills from Darlinghurst is Oxford Street which is lined with many pubs and is also the main street the annual  Mardi Gras Parade.

Surry Hills colorful profile is not an identity of the recent. Its colorful past from the 1880s to the 1960s has also given Surry Hills a reputation for crimes. Since 1980s, the suburb has took a turn for the better. With urban gentrification, many of the older properties were restored and are now tenanted by middle-class residents who are enjoying the inner-city living lifestyle.

Single Origin cafe is located on 64 Reservoir Street. As you walk from Elizabeth Street towards the cafe, you will find a line up of relatively posh restaurant, hairdresser and other boutique stores.

As you walk towards the cafe, what you will find is Single Origin "Sideshow". Sideshow is Single Origin cafe that caters specifically for takeaway customers only. The sideshow was setup so that it can move takeaway customers from the cafe so that dine in customers can enjoy their meals with less disruptions.

There is no cafe signage, in fact if you have a look at the top of the picture, you can still see part of the sign from previous business on the tiles.

Sideshow shop front concept also provides a street exposure to attract more customers and it also provide a good platform for the trialing of different coffee making form. Just check out the variety on the menu board.

By the way have a look at the decal sticker on the coffee machine, pretty cool isn't it? Is a butterfly with a skull head feature within. Next to the coffee machine is also a Japanese small toy, which sole purpose in this case is to provide a cute way to collect tips from the customer.

During my short stay there, one of the customers decided to put a coin on the box and a little cat paw will come out of the box to grab the coin. Finding it amusing, the customers "feed" the cat with a couple more coins.

At sideshow, you can also find a variety of coffee beans and a blackboard showcasing the coming attraction.

As for customers that would like to sit in for a coffee and a meal, you can choose to sit along the street or in the limited number of seats inside the cafe. Please note that the cafe is not open on the weekend.

64 Reservoir Street is the original location for roasting but Single Origin has now moved their roasting operations into a bigger venue at Alexandria in order to fulfill the high demand for their beans.

History and geography over, now to the interview.

What's the idea behind the cafe name?
The idea was to showcase single origin/single estate coffee. Single Origin deals directly with coffee farmers to source high grade coffee beans that are grown in a sustainable manner.

Single Origin was found by 4 people in 2003 and the two remaining founders are Dion and Emma Cohen.

Coffee Beans:
Single Origin Roasters

Barista Name:
Unfortunately Barista Shoji Sasa has to leave urgently prior to my arrival, but Charles Cameron who is the manager of the cafe was kind enough to entertain me.

Background of Charles Cameron
Charles used to work part with other famous roasters in Sydney such as Campos and Toby during his years of study at University of Sydney. Charles said that most of his barista skills were picked up during his full time barista position at Toby Estate. But Charles stressed the importance of learning the skills of making coffee in a non-stressful environment (ie Coffee School) to pick up the foundation skills prior to working in a cafe.

That's Charles walking towards me in the cafe

What do you like about working as a barista?
The constant social interaction with customers and making a customer happy through good coffee and a smile. The ability to make some positive impact on someone's day is very rewarding. He also felt a sense of community belonging, by knowing customers through the small chit chat during the making of a coffee.

Charles provide an advice for other budding barista. He stressed the importance on enjoying the ritual in making a coffee because other than the relationship with customers that are less predictable. The making of coffee is actually very repetitive and it takes alot of love for coffee to constantly produce a good cup of coffee.

What is your favourite coffee?
Double ristretto piccolo latte

Have you ever competed?
I haven't but I can recommend Chef Yu Yamamoto that did. No I haven't type in the wrong occupation, Mr Yamamoto is a chef but was good enough to come 4th in the NSW Latte Art Competition. In fact most of the team members at Single Origin are also substitute barista when the cafe need a hand at the coffee machines.

This is Charles' first try

An interesting note, when Charles brought out the cappuccino, the first remark from the barista at sideshow was. Does it have 12 leaves? It seems like there is a standard requirement on the number of leaves for the Classic leaf pattern.

Now with Yu mentoring, Charles' second try.
Can you guess which one is Charles and which one is Yu?

Finally, have a look at the staff serving at the sideshow, pretty funny lot. Now onto something that is not coffee related, Single Origin also work with Hands Lane in their cafe. Hands Lane has a similar philosophy to Single Origin as in their focus on working directly with small (Aussie) growers to grow in a sustainable manner. So people, come show your support for the growers either in a cup or in a jar.

On the left is Chef Matt Rothman of Hands Lane who also work at the coffee machine when I was there.


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