Is Newcastle the next coffee capital of Australia? It can’t be far off according to Australia’s coffee loving home baristas community who have just voted two cafes and roasteries in Newcastle among Australia’s best with Merewether’s roaster and café owner Nathaniel James from cult café Frothers Espresso scoring the highest ever score for its popular house blend, Colour Dot Foundation.
In the latest round of the Home Barista Awards, Colour Dot from Frothers and the specialty house blend Mullet from Lords Coffee & Associates beat ten other beans and blends from microroasters across South Australia and Queensland to take gold and bronze medals respectively, and feature in the latest Home Baristas Awarded Box, along with silver medal winner Brasil Specialty Coffee from Mount Gambier in South Australia, and Quest on the Gold Coast.
Merewether’s favourite local Frothers not only received the highest scores for taste, aroma and bean appearance last quarter but also scored the highest ever score to date from a total of forty-seven coffee roasters featured by Coffee Selectors to date.
“Locals have always been proud of our coffee culture in Newcastle but to be nationally recognised and awarded by coffee obsessed home baristas from all over Australia really puts Newy on the coffee map, said Jessica Sullivan, Owner of Coffee Selectors, Australia’s only subscription that features four different roasts and blends from a new coffee destination monthly so customers get to virtually travel to the best cafes and roasteries around the country.
Home Baristas raved about Colour Dot’s ‘perfectly balanced blend that is delicious as a long black with great acidity and sweetness and yet cuts through with any type of milk for piccolos as well,” while the silver winner Brasil from Mount Gambier was applauded for the flavours that came from its natural processing producing an initial fruit flavour on the palate followed by its deep chocolate finish. Lord Mullet’s blend ‘brewed up sweet on the first sip and then followed through with a real punchiness’ said another Home Barista.
Coffee-tasting is fast becoming the new wine tasting said Sullivan, and the growing number of home baristas joining Coffee Selectors is testament to this trend driven also by the popularity of at home espresso machines becoming a kitchen essential especially during COVID lockdowns, she added. “Home Baristas are loving the learning and educational journey as much as the tasting experience, said Sullivan who includes detailed tasting notes about every coffee in boxed collections. Since Coffee Selector’s inception last April, over forty-eight coffees have been tasted and rated by home baristas all over Australia who give the unique Newcastle-based small business over fifty-seven five-star reviews.
“Australian coffee tastes have grown far beyond the ubiquitous flat white,” said Sullivan. While we have enjoyed a world class coffee culture for years, there’s the new generation of coffee drinkers seeking a whole new level of coffee appreciation and the thrill of experiencing the monthly variety of beans and blends that we hand select from the best micro-roasters all over the country. Just like wine connoisseurs, these coffee lovers are relishing different kinds of origins and roasts with their palate and tastes coupled with a strong desire to learn more about the coffee they drink more than ever before. The coffee industry is one of the most exploited industries so consumers and the microroasters we work with all share a desire to ensure its beans are ethically sourced with transparent and fair-trade prices and practises from grower to roaster.
Ensuring the best quality of bean at origin and paying the farmers the best price is the core philosophy of Nathanial James‘s success at Frothers. The Merewether café owner and roaster humbly credits Colour Dot’s award-winning blend and popularity back to the origin of bean and hard work of the farmers in Brazil and El Salvador – as well as the generosity of Floozy Coffee Roasters who allow him to roast his beans at their facility using their ‘amazing Loring S7 air roaster which brings out slightly different characteristics from the high-quality green coffee beans,’ said James. What Nathaniel saves on buying his own expensive roasting equipment allows him to spend extra on buying the highest quality beans available. “I only buy from reputable importers for which we believe have an interest in ensuring the conditions at the origin are benefiting the local community and increasing the quality of life of the farmers and their employees,” added James. Our coffee changes with the seasons, we buy in small quantities and being a micro-roastery means our blend is ever evolving.
He strongly attributes Newcastle’s enviably homegrown coffee culture down to one key factor – community. “We’re lucky to have so many special neighbourhood cafes like Frothers which are servicing the locals as well as the broader community it creates,” he said. It’s not all about profits he adamantly insists. “It’s about community.”
As COVID lockdowns loomed in recent weeks, Frothers have seen a huge increase in retail sales. “It’s lovely to know that even if people are not getting coffee from Frothers every morning, that there is a little slice of Frothers in a lot of homes around Newcastle. We have just roasted a Kenyan coffee that tastes like grape bubblegum,” he said.
Newcastle’s newest coffee stars, Nathaniel James from Frothers and Daniel Brown Mullet Lord, both young guns of Australia’s current coffee roasting generation and inspiring tomorrow’s no doubt – homegrown and ready to take on the world. Watch out coffee world – Newy’s coming.
What Home Baristas are saying about the latest top scoring coffees
“Colour Dot coffee was such a balanced blend; it was delicious as a long black with nice acidity and sweetness, and it cut through pleasingly with milk (oat milk for me) in a piccolo. Yum.
“I also loved the way the Mullet Lord brewed up sweet on the first sip then followed through with a real punchiness. Maybe the coffee represents something about the coffee roaster’s personality too – all nice and business at the front, party at the back?
Steph Heysen, Selector for Adelaide’s box and Home Baristas Club subscriber @bookspluscaffeine
“As a coffee lover I got to the point where I was searching for more and more interesting and different coffee experiences, and I signed up to Coffee Selectors for the constantly varied experiences and to discover blends and coffee roasters I wouldn’t otherwise have known about.
“Brasil was one of my favourites (the silver medal winner) because I personally love naturally processed coffee and I was so excited to taste this blend which didn’t disappoint that I finished off the bag in record time. The initial fruit flavour forward on the palate, with that earthy chocolate coming through underneath, nice clean finish with an enjoyable depth and complexity of flavours.
Kirsty Loschiavo, a Home Baristas Club subscriber from Melbourne.