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Two days after Andy Gelman and Dean Atkins opened their upmarket café and coffee roastery in Gardenvale Road, the street was bunged to traffic for 12 weeks. Despite restricted access to the café via a dug-up footpath, noisy excavators and numerous barricades during the past eight weeks, customers have made the pilgrimage.
We could have not opened, but we saw it as an opportunity to set things up and do some fine-tuning, says Gelman. So weve had one of those mythical soft openings, and its been quite successful. The cafés name is taken from coffee mythology, too. Its the story of Sheikh Omar, a whirling dervish, banished to the desert for eyeing the emperors daughter. While there, he discovered a bird of marvellous plumage eating the fruit of a coffee tree.
Atkins, who also owns Brightons Rupert & the Fig, and Gelman planned the concept for Omars almost five years ago. Their vision, with its 12-kilogram Probat roaster, is another of the many DIY coffee operations blossoming across Melbourne (at least 10 new self-roasting cafés have opened in the past year). And, like many of its peers, the café is sourcing its own green (unroasted) coffee beans, too. Its a trend to independent ethical trading, bringing independently farmed, high-grade coffees from around the world to appreciative Melbourne consumers.
Andy Gelmans infectious enthusiasm for the Coffea bean began with early, and by his own admission, poor coffee-making attempts. Hes a self-taught barista and coffee roaster who gained experience at Woven Coffee (Icoco), Auction Rooms and Rupert & the Fig. Everyone used to be a secret-keeper in this industry, he says. So I learnt bits and bobs as I went along. Theres a lot more sharing of knowledge now.
Gelman is an avid coffee researcher and a passionate barista and coffee roaster. He roasts seven to eight different coffees each week; an espresso blend and a milk-based blend, plus two single origins are offered in the café and theres always a selection of take-home beans out the back.
Omar & the Marvellous Coffee Bird, 124 Gardenvale Road, Gardenvale
Phone 9596 4186
Barista Andy Gelman
Coffee Omar Coffee Roastery
Baristas choice Double ristretto
Open Monday-Friday 6am-4pm; Saturday-Sunday 7am-4pm
Theres a wow factor upon entry to this architect-designed suburban coffeehouse. The galley-style space a former hairdressers is airy, industrial and stylishly functional. A line of pine veneer-topped tables slides along clever metal tracks beside an exposed brick wall, and skylights and high windows capture loads of light. At the counter, ivory metal trim is used to good effect to frame the blond timber. Three grinder hoppers, containing blend and single-origin coffee offerings, rest in specially designed holders. The house espresso blend, which uses beans from Yemen and an Ethiopian yirgacheffe, has its own wow factor and creates a short, tight espresso with a viscous crème-brulee texture and luscious notes of lime and grapefruit.