Annie Martinu and her brother Andreas opened their first café together this year, on January 3 – Annie’s birthday. It was the ideal time to get to know the locals, while they were in holiday mode and had time for breakfast, a couple of brews and a chat.
The pair grew up in hospitality, working in the family’s Café Beelzebub in Fitzroy in 2006, and have followed the specialty coffee movement for the past six or seven years. They are locals too.
Annie runs the five-month-old business, while Andreas, the head roaster at Atomica Coffee in Fitzroy, creates the café’s house blend, Carousel, which is a combo of El Salvador San Emilio and Honduras Aguas Dulces Cup of Excellence lot #14 beans.
It’s a creation that Annie says will change with the seasons, and the café is supplementing it daily with coffees from guest roasters such as Atomica and Small Batch.
As an espresso, the house blend arrives in a sexy orange cup and saucer. It’s chocolatey and bright, with a hint of blackberries and spice.
The café also offers a selection of Camellia brand specialty teas from around the world, which are carefully weighed and brewed to exacting standards. My Oriental Beauty (a Bai Hao Oolong white tea from Taiwan) was a delicate honey-flavoured delight.
“We have a long way to go in improving how we treat tea in our cafés,” says Annie.
She considered becoming a chef, but after working in cafés and learning about food, coffee and service, Annie decided to do it all.
“It’s really much more exciting to have a say in how everything goes, from the food menu to the service and the coffee,” she says.
Annie, the head barista, has worked at Atomica and The Maling Room, learning her coffee-making and roasting skills in both places. She roasts the café’s filter coffees on her own one-kilogram Yang Chia roaster for use in the café’s cold-drip, AeroPress and pour-overs. She’s adding to her barista team, hiring an experienced part-timer and training another staffer, so she can keep her hands busy with the whole operation.
155 Union Road, Ascot Vale
Phone \ 9375 2170
Barista \ Annie Martinu
Coffee \ Reverence and guest roasters
Barista’s choice \ Pour-over
Open \ Monday to Friday 7.30am-4pm; weekends 8am-4pm
It’s hard to believe this tranquil, fresh space was once a solicitor’s office, with bulging in-trays, squawking phones and piles of files.
The original pressed-metal ceiling and broad bay-style windows have been transformed by a subtle charcoal paint job and an uncluttered approach to furnishings. A tangerine rear wall creates a soothing sunset-like glow across the ivory-washed walls.
Polished floorboards add warmth and a well-equipped barista’s station featuring a trio of coffee grinders, three water boilers for single-origin teas, a three-group GB5 La Marzocco espresso machine and a collection of filter coffee devices pay homage to coffee bean and tea leaf.