While the Eurobodalla is promoting itself as #allkindsofnatural and working to showcase its local produce to the outside world there is one constant that every visitor needs: good coffee Thirty five years ago when I first arrived in the area the choice of coffee at a local cafe was either International Roast or Pablo. More upmarket restaurants had plunge coffee or filter coffee but these options weren't readily available to passing foot traffic. Over time the South Coast caught up and there were celebrations when cafe's like The AirRaid in Moruya set up their coffee machine. It was glorious and well maintained. Its baristas were well trained and the coffee beans were fresh and well selected. It was bliss. Over time more and more machines were introduced across the region to meet the ever increasing demands of locals and visitors alike. With the availability of a diversity of beans came the appreciation of regions and countries of origin. Overnight we became experts on international coffee options. No longer did we just swill down our coffee and accept bitter or burnt. Instead we smelt the whole beans and compared them to post grind. This in itself lead to arguments of how a bean should be ground and at what fineness of grind. It then became more common place to see us consider the aroma as the water mixed in the pour over that had us inhale the bloom as the grounds were first wet. next came the arguments about the temperature of the water and even the pressure of the water as it was delivered over the grind. Then lastly we learnt to take in the nose and we adopted descriptors such as flowery, nutty, smoky, herby and made reference to acidity, bitterness, sweetness, saltiness and sourness, all the while tilting our cups (yes cups... NOT MUGS) over the bridges of our noses to loudly and professionally inhale like the coffee sommeliers we had become.
Above: local baristas were invited to free coffee cupping and latte art workshops at Narooma, Moruya and Batemans Bay. Photo: Guerrilla Roasters With so many of our coffee loving visitors coming from Metropolitan Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Milan or Paris (notice I didn't say the USA) it is critical that we can meet their needs of a perfect coffee. Across the Shire there are hundreds of coffee machines. The fact is that there are very few baristas that I would trust to deliver me a perfect long black. My demands for a coffee are simple. Good beans, freshly roasted and medium-coarse grind, similar in size to a French press grind that has been freshly ground with a conical burr grinder. The temperature of the water must be just right, delivered to the beans compacted under the correct pressure to ensure the water passes through at the right speed to extract the flavours and oils. But then that is just about my simple long black. No doubt your coffee requirements are equally important to you. Having sorted out the basics of coffee next comes the demands of the milk folk - and what demands they have - added to all the consideration around the coffee itself they add layers of complexity to froth, milk type and artistic delivery. Added to the mix are the 'milk' options of almond, soy, oat, low fat and skim - and we won't even begin to talk sweeteners. To ensure our baristas are ready for the multitude of tastes and demands of our locals and visitors workshops were held this week with new and experienced baristas invited to free coffee cupping and latte art workshops at Narooma, Moruya and Batemans Bay conducted by Mathew Hatcher, co-owner of Guerrilla Roasters, that was founded in 2018 with Lewis McKenzie. Mathew and Lewis started with the idea of roasting the absolute best coffee they could get their hands on saying "Every bean we purchase is fully traceable and we only buy from suppliers who work with farmers on sustainability and quality. Our belief is that a great cup of coffee starts on the farm. We strive to visit our partners all over the world to not only follow the bean to cup but also to build lasting relationships between farmers and those tasting the finished product."
"Our aim is to lead the way and not conform to what people think we should be. We are a small batch roaster more concerned with quality than being one of the big guys. We want to work with like minded cafe owners who are in it purely for the passion and want a quality product." While the Eurobodalla might not grow its own coffee it is the providence of coffee that drives the demand for quality and enjoyment. There is little doubt that the demands of coffee lovers must be met and it is via our local coffee roasters that we are able to deliver. In the north there is Venetian Coffee in Batemans Bay who roast their own coffee and currently provide nineteen different blends. Moruya is well serviced with Guerrilla Roasters and Alfresco Coffee with their own blends of fresh, locally roasted specialty coffees sourced from around the world. It is of little surprise that many of our local cafes source their beans from these local roasters. But there is more to coffee and that is where a good barista comes in - able to deliver the coffee you order. Last night the Eurobodalla’s first ever Latte Art Championship was held in Moruya overseen by Mathew Hatcher, (below right) one of three judges along with Sammy Steiner of Alfresco and Aaron, a coffee grader from Kiama.
Above: Mossy Cafe legendary baristas in the making, (l to r) Viv Barson and Leora Kelly side by side in the latte art competition.... and the proud winner was ....
Photos: The Mossy Cafe