We love our coffee here at Dapper Vigilante and spend much of our time out of the office at local cafes. The Australian coffee culture has exploded in recent years with new cafes and roasters opening regularly. To get some insight into the industry and the local scene in Brisbane we met up with Nick Carter who is a long time barista and a consultant to several cafes in Brisbane.
Hey Nick, thanks for taking the time to share a coffee and a chat. Now we know how passionate you are about your craft but what specifically do you love about coffee and being a barista?
Well as cliche as it sounds I feel that with coffee you pour a bit of yourself into every cup. I love the relationships that I have with my regulars and the daily chats. I know that people return not only because they love the coffee but they also enjoy the experience and the interaction with myself and the cafe’s staff.
Yeah the delicious coffee and loose chat we had kept me coming back. With the coffee, what impacts the flavour and determines the quality of the drink?
There are numerous factors that impact the flavour profile and quality of the coffee. It all starts with the origin of the bean and the process in which it’s roasted. A poor quality bean or an error in the roasting process dooms the final product before it’s even started. When making the coffee the extraction time and temperatures must be accurate and consistent.
So where is most of the coffee from and does the location affect the flavour?
Coffee trees are typically found at high altitudes and in a tropical climate. Besides location, the variety of the plant, the composition of the soil, and the amount of rainfall the area receives can affect the beans. The combination of geographical factors is so complex that variation in beans can vary greatly even if they're from the same plantation.
While there are coffee plantations in many countries around the world I’ll list out some of the most well known.
With coffee being grown in all these different countries are the type of beans the same? We've heard the term 100% Arabica before.
The two main bean varieties are Arabica and Robusta. The main differences between the two are taste, growing conditions, location and price. Arabica beans tend to have a sweeter taste with tones of fruit and berries. Robusta, however, has a stronger, harsher taste with twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans.
Arabic beans are typically considered superior to Robusta and come with a higher price tag. The cafes I work with only use Arabica beans. While the types of beans being used in coffee and at cafes hasn't changed, the industry here in Australia has seen massive change over the last decade.
It seems like there are new cafes popping up everywhere and the market in Australia is not dominated by the large chains like they are in the US and perhaps Europe.
The industry in Australia has exploded over the last five to ten years. The increased competition amongst local cafes and a discerning customer base have pushed the quality of the coffee and the cafes to amazing heights.
What are your favourite cafes and roasters here in Brisbane?
There are so many new roasters and cafes popping up that my favourites are constantly changing. I love what Odyssey Project Roasters are doing with their local roasting here in Brisbane. John Mills Himself is an epic cafe which turns into a bar at night. If you're a fan of both scotch and coffee, which I certainly am, there is no better spot to enjoy both. If you're looking for a great cafe to get brekkie after a few too many drinks the night before, Scout cafe is my pick.
So the next day after having a few too many scotches at John Mills Himself, where do you typically go to hang and unwind?
Days off? What’s that? At the moment my days off are few and far between. On top of consulting in the cafe scene I'm also a partner at a clothing boutique called Stock And Supply. When I do have some spare time I'm happy to be anywhere with good food, sun and a drink. I Love a good barbecue down in New Farm park with some mates and some beers.
Since you're also in the fashion game how would you describe your personal style?
During the day if I'm keeping it casual I guess I would describe my style as a New York skate kid who never really gave up on being a rock star. But instead of being from New York I’m from Brisbane...
If I'm having a night out on the town I love rocking a beautifully tailored suit and to play the part of the dapper gentleman. So I guess I have two very different looks but I try to always stay true to my individual style.
Well thank you Nick for your time and for the coffee. Now shall we take this party to John Mills Himself?