The 100-year-old building was originally the Cumberland Hotel, but so authentic is the renovation and the bakery concept that the pub has been all but forgotten.
“We did a good job of making people forget,” says Brunswick Flour Mill co-owner Joe Versace. With business partner Aprim Michael, he created the café four years ago, altering the building to bring back its character.
The bread is baked by Noisette in Port Melbourne but the café’s meals and snacks are prepared in-house. Breakfast includes pancakes, French toast, slow-cooked housemade beans and eggs aplenty. Versace says he’s been in the café business on and off for 20 years, and he and Michael have been in business together for about
10 years, previously operating the Aquarium Bakery Café in Northcote and Chapel Bakery Cafe in Glenferrie Road.
The café switched to Atomica Coffee last year and Versace describes the style of the roaster’s Dark Blend as being “old Fitzroy” – a classic style of coffee that is suited to the café’s concept and its customers. But he’s aware of how much coffee is changing, too, and ensures his baristas are young, energetic and aware of the coffee scene. The café also offers a daily single-origin option.
Andrew Clifforth travelled to Italy last year on an exchange placement as part of his arts/law studies at La Trobe University.
He didn’t work as a barista while overseas, but was struck by the difference in the coffee culture.
“The coffee in Melbourne is of a very different standard,” he said. “We are one of the coffee capitals of the world. In Italy a flat white is still just coffee with milk.”
Clifforth began his hospitality training while still at school and living around Kew. He’s worked at Sorriso Café in Malvern East, Deco Restaurant in Camberwell and Studley Park Boathouse in Kew, before arriving at the Flour Mill in 2009.
He’s part of a team of baristas who work on a pair of two-group retro-look SanRemo espresso machines, which he describes as operating “like a spaceship”.
“It’s fantastic equipment, so streamlined and the pressure and the steam wands are brilliant.” Clifforth says the consistency and quality of the coffee has improved since the café changed roasters and he takes particular pride in latte art and turning out consistent, well-presented brews.
Brunswick Flour Mill
337-341 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Phone \ 9078 0497
Barista \ Andrew Clifforth
Coffee \ Atomica
Barista’s choice \ Strong flat white
Open \ Daily 7.30am-5pm
The countrified appearance of this inner-urban café seems out of place in multicultural, eclectic Brunswick. Yet locals and out-of-towners appear equally at home perched on timber stools at the front window bar or at compact table settings, ordering from the all-day breakfast and diverse lunch menus. Split-level and separated spaces, plus high windows and tall ceilings, belie the size of the crowd catered for so capably here. Exposed bricks, corrugated iron, polished boards, framed photographs, metal shelving and retro-look cream-coated espresso machines are part of the theme – completed by the abundant display of rustic loaves of bread for sale.