There are so many characters within the coffee industry, that it's almost hard to find someone that has lead a normal career path. Angus Nicol is not an exception to this rule. We sat down with him at his latest project (Black Market Roasters espresso bar in Enmore) and chatted about many things revolving around the coffee industry, as well as his experiences within it. Here's a small taste of his story.
Angus' coffee career started off as a part time job in a Newtown cafe whilst studying Finance at Sydney University. From there, a period of travel ensued. "I lived in London for a year, like everyone else at that time. From London I travelled around Europe when I could." While travelling, Angus opened up to his love of coffee, experiencing brews in different environments and cultures and forming ideas about them. "I would sit in cafes and write down notes about each place. What was good, what I liked, what could be done better. It was a bit of an obsession.”
After a short career in his trained area of finance, Nicol decided to instead pursue his passion and opened his first cafe along with Jessica Hol; Swallow Coffee Traders, in the southern Sydney suburb of Rockdale. Located just between Princes Highway and Rockdale train station, Angus proved that a specialty coffee venture need not be limited to more ’trendy’ inner-city suburbs. Swallow is still open, and has recently expanded with the brilliant Nest Deli next door under the ownership of local Peter Bosevski. Following the success of owning and running Swallow, Angus and Jess repeated their formula with another cosy cafe, this time opening Top Hat Coffee in Clovelly in 2012. From there “the ultimate goal was to eventually be roasting our own coffee.” In 2014, Black Market Roasters was born.
Shortly after beginning Black Market, Angus sold off the cafe business of Top Hat. This allowed him to focus on building a clientele for the new roasting business. However, wanting to showcase his coffees and build brand awareness has led him full circle to the recent opening of Black Market Roaster’s espresso bar. Located on Enmore Rd not far from the iconic Enmore Theatre, the espresso bar keeps things simple yet classy. A Synesso espresso machine customised by Dan Schonknecht of Specht Design in Melbourne sits atop the counter, its American Oak panels and handles matching furniture throughout the light filled space. Outdoor tables add options for customers, as do a variety of cakes and sweets in a tempting glass cabinet next to the till.
As for the coffees, we enjoyed more than a couple. Washed Panama Volcan espressos presented a silky mouthfeel with notes of citrus and caramel. Many coffee bars give a complimentary shot of sparkling water to cleanse any other flavours on your palate before sipping your espresso, however ours were rather served with a shot of cucumber infused jasmine green tea, which still served the same purpose with the same effect. A very interesting and fresh (one day old roast) Mexican pourover provided peach flavours up front, building into a sweet lingering finish. Just before leaving, barista Anh poured us a delectable cold drip that was 50% Kenyan, 50% Colombian, and very refreshing.
What’s next for Black Market Roasters? Taking inspiration from internationally renowned baristas such as Tim Wendelboe, Angus says: “To be involved at origin. The journey of ‘tree to cup’ within one business, where you can be involved with every stage of the process from growing, to processing, to roasting, to serving the customer at your cafe… I’d love to be lying on a beach in Panama knowing I can send the best possible product home."
78A Enmore Rd, Enmore