Seattle in the 1980's sounded like a great time and place to be alive in. A forward thinking and culturally dynamic city, many regard it as the worldwide home of specialty coffee. Starbucks had started their first cafe there in 1971, and although not considered highly by renowned coffee experts (yours truly) the sheer scale of their business is admirable. It was in this scene that Kiwi Michael Allpress found himself, albeit as a chef. Absorbing ideas from the coffee industry on America's West Coast, he then applied these back home in NZ to a coffee cart, and had his own roastery up and running by the early 1990's. From there the Allpress business has expanded rapidly, with roasteries in Dunedin, Melbourne, London, Tokyo, and Sydney, which we visited last week.
Our tour of the facility started off with the introduction of the Allpress signature air roaster. Taking up most of the warehouse space, the guys reckoned that it is one of maybe only two in the Sydney region. Where it differentiates from a normal barrel roaster is the way the beans are spun in the roasting chamber, which is by air. This reduces the contact time of the bean with any hot surfaces, creating a more controlled and even roast. Due to the way the pipes around the roaster are set up, most of the blasting hot air is recycled to conserve energy. Seeing the machine in operation is something to behold, as precise and large measurements of green beans are shot up in pipes to the top of the roaster, and then the roasted coffee sent by more pipes to containers above the bagging station. Although fairly automated once in operation, every roast is carefully recorded and tested by the team. Tweaks to the next roast will then be established in order to keep quality at a maximum.
After running over the roasting process we took some time out in the brewing office that looks out over the cafe. A couple of different roasts of the sweet Allpress Carmello blend were served as espresso, in order for us to experience how different roasting procedures could affect the final product. A fair few more beverages later (cold drips, pourovers, etc) we headed over to their green bean storage factory down the road. To get a feel for how big it is, scroll through the gallery below and check the perspective photo of the guys walking beneath the towering piles of sacks.
We finished up back at the cafe, in a near caffeine coma. Stylishly laid out with minimal branding throughout, Allpress let their coffees do the talking. A main bar serves espresso with sandwich and bakery options next to it, while a separate pourover bar allows you to get conversing with your barista and observe his techniques. Spending a bit of time in the cafe is a great option, be it for a meeting, with friends or just by yourself (the magazine selection is awesome).
Allpress Roastery Sydney
58 Epsom Road, Zetland
Monday to Friday 7.00am – 3.00pm
Saturday 8.00am – 2.00pm