Breaking ground: Our unquenchable obsession with caffeine and wave of eclectic brews
The flat white is looking, well, f;at. And a plain old latte seems passe LINDY ALEXANDER explores the newest coffee trends brewing from nitrogen-infused iced drinks to coffaine-loaded "asskickers"
What type of coffee would you like? The question used to be relatively simple, but no longer. In cafes around the country the choices are endless: from single origin to microlot, filtered to cold drip, siphon to batch brew.
Despite the fact Australians are not the world’s biggest coffee drinkers (the Finns are number one, consuming a whopping 12kg per capita annually compared to our 3kg), we do have a coffee culture that’s defined by innovation.
After running Melbourne Coffee Tours for 12 years, Maria Paoli says she has witnessed endless trends. “We have seen deconstructed coffee, brew bars, coffee beer and lately, colourful lattes,” she says. “Lattes are now yellow (turmeric), green (matcha green tea), blue (algae) and rainbow.”
Coffee trends are constantly changing.We checked in with a few leaders in the industry to see what the ultimate experience is right now.
Elixir Specialty Coffee: There’s mystery around this coffee,which is a concoction made from filtered water and coffee according to a secret method.
“It’s a brand new flavour profile,” says founder Lee Safar,who launched it in Sydney but is now based in San Diego. “There’s nothing else like it in the world.”
Elixir comes in glass bottles and looks like tea, herbal tonic or whisky. “You can taste the flavour profiles of different single origin coffees in their purest forms,” says Safar. “It’s more like drinking a wine.” It is available at dealers in Sydney, on the US West Coast or by subscription and is served either cold or at room temperature.
Safar,who has a science background, admits that like many great discoveries, it was an accident. She was trying to poach a pear in coffee and had the idea to use music to bring out its nuances.
“I was studying cymatics, the science of the physical expression of sound,” she says. “As soon as I tasted the poaching fluid I knew it was the next big thing.” Bubble Cup Cold Drip: With a soft spot for bubble tea, the Taiwanesestyle drink made with fruit, milk and tapioca, the team at Industry Beans in Melbourne came up with the Bubble Cup Cold Drip.
“We start with single origin cold drip, then add condensed milk and soy milk, followed by our single origin coffee-soaked tapioca pearls,” says manager Clare Palmer. “As the pearls sink and the coffee floats, it creates a beautiful layered look.” Their newest beverage is a coconut and kaffir lime bubble cup cold drip. Coffee on tap: While it sounds more like beer, cold brew on tap is coming to a cafe near you.
Places like Plug Nickel in Melbourne’s Collingwood and Danes Specialty Coffee in Brookvale have been leaders of the trend, where coffee is cold brewed, chilled in a keg and infused with nitrogen. Served from a regular beer tap, it’s smooth, creamy and deeply coloured – just like Guinness. Asskicker: If your coffee comes with a health warning,you know it’s strong.
Viscous Cafe in Adelaide is serving possibly the strongest coffee in the world.The Asskicker cold-drip espresso packs in a whopping 5g of caffeine per serve (that’s 80 times the amount of a regular cup and 12.5 times the recommended safe daily caffeine limit).
Designed to be sipped over four hours, it’s definitely for those who like to walk on the wild side. Coco Coffee: At Sydney’s Dutch Smuggler, even coffee has not escaped the coconut craze. “We were inspired to create Coco Coffee after making cold brew,” says co-owner Chewie Stevenson.
“We added coconut water to the coffee to enhance the flavour, then some coconut ice cream and the combination was amazing.”
A sprinkle of raw cacao nibs over the top delivers a chocolatey crunch. “It’s really rewarding when you play around with mixing different flavours and something works,” he adds. Coffee pops: Wondering how people in Queensland could truly enjoy hot coffee in a sub-tropical climate, Penny Wolff and her husband Peter, of Dandelion & Driftwood cafe and Wolff Coffee Roasters, created coffee pops.
The couple developed six speciality popsicles – cafe latte, cappuccino, long black, hot mocha, hot chocolate and chai latte. Each pop contains a double ristretto of coffee.
“We like to see ourselves as incubators of the speciality coffee scene,” explains Wolff. “Our Queen of Pops brand showcases coffee in ways never seen before.” Hi-tech machines: You may have noticed that your local cafe is preparing your espresso on increasingly hi-tech equipment. Much of this world-class machinery hails from Italy and replicates automotive design.
At new Sydney restaurant Bacco Osteria, the owners installed a San Remo Cafe Racer,which is inspired by Ducati’s “Monster” motorbike.
“We stand by Faema,” says Rolando Schirato, Vittoria’s managing director. “The new E71 is arguably the best coffee machine in the world.”
The E71, with its digital control system and ergonomic features, was hatched by Giugiaro Design, the company known for its Lamborghini and Maserati designs.”