When it opened two years ago, in the old WB Ellis auction house in North Melbourne, Auction Rooms quickly grabbed attention. Its accessible location, edgy warehouse look and its determined “third-wave” stance on specialty coffee made it irresistible to inner-urban caffeine worshipers.
There was still a bit of tweaking going on with food liquor licences and opening hours, but the message about its commitment to food and coffee was unmistakable.
Owner Andrew Kelly, who had operated coffee carts and was running a small coffee-roasting business, didn’t have a long background in coffee, but was determined to refine his knowledge.
Kelly is now one of a handful of Australian coffee experts to hold a “Q Grader” qualification from the Coffee Quality Institute in California.
During its short life, his café has made a vivid mark on the Melbourne café scene. It’s spawned some of the city’s most talented baristas, influenced a number of new café openings and is one of the more heavily populated cafés around town.
Kelly rapidly understood the movement beyond espresso coffee in Melbourne and embraced alternative brewing methods and the move to single-origin, grower-sourced green beans. The most impressive aspect of all is his willingness to share knowledge.
Will Glover leads one of Melbourne’s busiest teams of baristas. He’s New Zealand born and has been in Melbourne for two-and-a-half years, working with Jason Chan at Batch Espresso in Balaclava and then, last year, helping set up Dead Man Espresso in South Melbourne. He joined Auction Rooms in February and is now head barista, leading a team of five.
Glover says he’s fascinated by the scientific side of coffee and loves having a “curve ball” thrown at him in the form of an unusual, or even flawed, coffee bean. Espresso is all about mastering a theory, he says, but working with a syphon filter allows exploration.
Auction Rooms, 103-107 Errol Street, North Melbourne
Phone \ 9326 7749
Barista \ Will Glover
Coffee \ Small Batch
Barista’s choice \ Syphon coffee
Open \ Monday-Wednesday 7.30am-4pm; Thursday-Friday 7.30am-10pm; Saturday 8am-10pm; Sunday 8am-4pm
Light and space is the first impression at Auction Rooms. The next is the fast-beating pace of an efficient café “machine”. Exposed brick walls, white-painted windows and timber shelves holding bags of roasted coffee beans add to the warehouse look, while decorative curios add inner-urban chic.
Low-hanging lights are suspended from one section of the ceiling, creating the impression of a church pipe organ; coloured milk crates, covering half the “roof” area of the open courtyard, suggest a child’s climbing frame. Two baristas operate the espresso machine simultaneously, while another runs the syphon filter.