Earlier this week we visited Mecca's month old Roastworks Cafe in Alexandria, which you might remember as the venue for the recent Australian Aeropress Championships. While there we did the full monty of checking out the green bean storage area, through to spectating some roasting and cupping a few single origins and Mecca's renowned Darkhorse Blend.
A bit of history first, however. Mecca opened the doors to its original store in Sydney's CBD around 10 years ago, and for the first couple of years didn't roast their own coffee. A combination of a rise in consumer awareness as to the origins of coffee and a keen interest in operating the business in an ethical manner led the owners of Mecca to starting the painstaking process of sourcing and roasting their beans. This has led to a name that is very highly respected in specialty coffee circles around Australia, and a total of four cafes spread throughout Sydney.
Our tour of the new facility began at the back of the factory, where Mecca keeps their pallets of green beans. In order to source some of these products Mecca sends company representatives 'to origin' (visiting countries where coffee is grown, usually third world areas). For other products, such as some of their Kenyan coffees, relationships with reliable green bean importers mean that great coffees can still be sourced ethically.
The next stage of the process was witnessing roasting of the Darkhorse Blend. As normal, green beans are poured into a hopper and air pumped through to the 90kg drum of the Probat roaster. Being their blend, Mecca have their roast profile for it totally down pat, with very slight variations (literally a couple of seconds change in roast time) being used to keep the coffee tasting its best. Due to the seasonal nature of coffee, components of the blend are also changed occasionally. These changes are usually introduced over a period of time, in order to not shock the consumer with a very different flavour package.
What was very interesting was the next part of our tour, where we got to cup the blend as each individual component and as a whole. Currently made up of two Ethiopians and a Colombian, Mecca describes the taste notes of Darkhorse as dark chocolate, peach and winey. Some other coffees we cupped included filter roast profiles of the Ethiopian Dumerso and Duromina from the blend, another Colombian and a very interesting Kenyan Gachatha which is available in store currently.
Finally, we moved through to the cafe space with its great high ceilings to sit down and try the Darkhorse as espresso. Although mostly designed for consumption with milk, it is well rounded and balanced as an espresso as well with deep, juicy, chocolate flavours exploding in your mouth. The new cafe area also has a shady past that you'll have to go in store and ask the staff about if you're game.
2/26 Bourke Rd, Alexandria