While doing an internet search for the location of Coffeehead, I stumbled on the urban dictionary’s definition of the term at www.urbandictionary.com I did have a laptop and glasses packed and I was wearing a scarf and an expensive outer garment that could unkindly have been termed a cardigan. But no mind, I was in like company arriving at this new café and retail space tucked behind Burke Road – there were even a few other reviewers on site.
Paul Mathis, a restaurant and café owner with more than 17 businesses and a five-year industry hiatus under his belt (Taxi, SOS, 100 Mile Café) has six new ventures on the go this year, including Firechief Pizzeria, Goldilocks Café and The Sharing House at South Wharf. Coffeehead is an adventurous concept.
Mathis hopes to stock 100 brands of coffee, coffee-making equipment, and to showcase every conceivable method of coffee brewing, including Greek and Italian-style stove-top.
For now, the house blend is North Wollongong company Delano Coffee’s Divino blend, which comprises Central and South American, plus PNG beans. It’s the blueprint for Coffeehead’s own Coffee 1961, which will be roasted at the Camberwell premises and may include Colombian and African beans.
“The people who work here will have to have (figurative) tattoos of coffee all over their bodies. Coffeehead won’t be just a roaster with its own lines, it will be a depository for all kinds of coffee throughout the country,” Mathis says.
Everything will be sold online too.
At a request for an Aeropress coffee, fellow staff members step out of the way as head barista and roaster Alan Chan swoops on a bag of single-origin Kenyan beans and promptly creates a bright, delicate brew.
His boss says this young man has “a coffee cup tattooed across his heart”, and Chan’s the first to admit he’s a coffee tragic.
“If you came to my house you would think I had started a mini café,” he says, claiming collection of “quite a few toys” including a Gene roaster, two espresso machines and three grinders.
Chan, who qualified in hospitality and management, has worked in a string of Melbourne cafés during the past 10 years. His most recent position was at Coffee Hit in Doncaster, where he worked his way into head barista and roasting roles.
He has also dipped his toe in the competition scene, triumphing over some big-name competitors in last year’s Veneziano Latte Art Smackdown.
8 Railway Parade, Camberwell
Phone \ 9831 1400
Barista \ Alan Chan
Coffee \ Delano Coffee
Barista’s choice \ Pour-over
Open \ Monday to Friday 7am-6pm; weekends 8am-4pm
The coffee devotion is clear: oversized red capital letters spell out the word above industrial black shelves holding caffeine-related paraphernalia – and signs promise there’s more to come. Factory workbenches and recycled metal tables painted red and green sit over seagrass matting on one side of the room and black-and-white chequered tiles on the other. A burnt-yellow-tiled service counter holds a geek’s dream collection of brewing devices, including a manual-lever La San Marco and a high-tech DC pro espresso machine. At the back of the room, completing the package, sit a pair of shiny 12-kilogram Probat roasting machines, one finished in gold, the other in silver.