Barista Henry Long
Stepping into the increasingly competitive coffee scene in South Melbourne was a bold move, but with more than 15 years' experience as a chef, Carolyn Mee made the move with confidence and a sense of fate. She’s a Melbourne girl who has lived and worked on the Gold Coast for the past 10 years and studied interior design for the past six. When the former Peter Watson space came up, she knew it was right, and says “I liked his products, so I’d be crazy not to keep selling them”. Freestyle Espresso is her first café, and she’s given it a strong menu emphasis using simple, wholesome, house-made food suited to quick snacks and casual business lunches. When it came to the coffee, she says: “I wanted a boutique coffee brand that would complement the food.”
The café serves the Allpress Supremo blend, which is a combination of beans from Colombia, Papua New Guinea and Guatemala. Mee prepares all the food in-house, offering an eclectic lunchtime menu that is suited to informal business meetings and generally leaves barista Henry Long to operate the espresso machine. “He’s got a lovely temperament and he makes a great cup of coffee,” she says.
The first time Henry Long made me a coffee, it was a takeaway piccolo latte. I’d drunk a lot of good coffee that morning and was pretty jaded. But somehow that short, carefully extracted jolt with milk textured to perfection, plus Henry’s charm, added an extra edge to my day. Long’s barista resumé includes a stint at Blue Train Café in Southgate, plus he’s done a bit of barista work overseas. For him, the job is as much about the people as the coffee. “I enjoy the whole aspect of it, from making the coffee to talking to the customers,” he says. “I’m liking this (Allpress) blend immensely. I enjoy drinking it myself, it’s a good coffee to work with and it seems to put a grin on people’s faces.”
Freestyle Espresso, 6 Union Street, South Melbourne
Barista \ Henry Long
Coffee \ Allpress Coffee
Barista’s choice \ Espresso
Open \ Daily 8am-4pm
Phone \ 9696 4396
Web \ www.freestyle-espresso.com.au
Its laneway location, pared-back interior and tiny outdoor seating area are decidedly Melbourne, but there’s a touch of Queensland in the reclining armchairs and cheery splashes of blue at this 10-week-old café. The black walls and the dark timber shelves holding spices and condiments are strong reminders of this café’s previous tenant, gourmet retailer Peter Watson, and there’s a sparkling glass window filled with ready-to-go sandwiches and pastries. Terrazzo-look floors, matte-black tables and chairs and a wall of colourful postcards keep the decorating theme simple and show off the gleaming La Marzocco espresso machine. From it, a well-extracted espresso is bright and fresh, with a light crema, a medium body and dominant notes of caramel and toffee.