If you’re into your specialty coffee and you’ve been to Sydney, there’s a good chance you’ve already come across Mecca Coffee. This year they celebrated their 10th birthday, which in ‘coffee years’ is practically ancient (because let’s face it, it’s a ruthless market and who wants to go to a café that’s been open for more than three weeks?). However Mecca doesn’t run on ‘coffee years’. The guys and girls running this company are filled with as much energy as a hoard of glucose-peaking, party-hatting 10 year old humans let loose in the bouncy castle on the most important day of their calendar, and they have every reason to celebrate because for the team at Mecca coffee, things are just getting started.
Mecca has cafés located in Sydney’s CBD, Ultimo and Circular Quay, however it’s their new roastworks in Alexandria that caught my attention. This year the site was given a massive revamp to fine-tune the roasting operations and also make room for a gorgeous café that stands boldly at the front of the space. As far as headquarters go, they don’t get much better than this.
Paul Geshos, the brains behind Mecca, is a very proud man. Like those partygoers, he can’t stop smiling as he shows me around his new space (quite possibly the world’s coolest 10th birthday present). For a guy who’s been rocking the Sydney coffee scene for so long, it would be easy to now sit back and coast, yet that’s not the Mecca way of doing things – “the third wave is really just the end of the beginning” Paul states. We chatted for over an hour, but it only took a few minutes to realise that this guy has an immediate enthusiasm for the continued development of specialty coffee. I ask him where he thinks the world of specialty coffee is heading next; “well there’s now no excuse now for making a bad cup of coffee” – I couldn’t agree more, as a community our knowledge of how to roast and extract specialty coffee is certainly at an all time high, so if you’re not producing a good cup you’re probably not trying hard enough. Paul goes on to explain that we now need to be focusing more attention towards the green coffee stage of the process, not just to improve quality, but also to minimise the environmental impact of farming coffee (he’s pretty keen to see what we can do with high quality organic production methods).
It might be all smiles as we chat away but the 90kg Probat sitting ominously in the middle of the room is a clear reminder of just how seriously these guys take their coffee. Larger operations can sometimes make for closed-door philosophies when it comes to the sharing of information. Not at Mecca. The roastery is open to anyone, coffee-nerd or otherwise, with public tours taking an ‘open book’ approach. There’s no hiding of roast profiles (though admittedly it would be pretty hard to recreate the exact environmental roasting conditions at another site with different equipment) and the staff are encouraged to talk in-depth about their processes with anyone that fancies a chat.
The coffee itself is exceptional. I had a pourover on their limited release In The Flowers blend that mixes two of my favourite beans – the coveted La Esmeralda Geisha from Panama and the Duromina from Ethiopia with another Ethiopian, the Dumerso. Some might consider it blasphemous to mix coffees of this calibre for a filter brew, yet the result was a heavenly cup, full of delicate florals and light bergamot acidity at the top but very balanced with a softer, sweeter, juicy bottom end to finish on. I usually spend around an hour in a space when I’m on a shoot, but three hours after walking through the Mecca doors I was still hanging out chasing angles, chatting away and sipping brews.
Mecca coffee, fresh not old. Hit it if you’re in Sydney.
Mecca Coffee – Cafe and Roastworks
Google Maps Link
2/26 Bourke Rd