Opportunities like this do not come around very often, so when Mark and Russell got in touch with Anette last year about coming to Sydney to hold a residency at Paramount Coffee Project, we jumped at the chance. For those of you uninitiated, Paramount Coffee Project is a collaboration between Mark Dundon of Seven Seeds Roastery in Melbourne and Russell Beard of Reuben Hills in Sydney. The cafe is housed on the ground floor of the old Paramount Pictures building on Commonwealth St, which also incorporate a cinema, bar and florist/food market on the weekends.
The previous residencies looked and sounded amazing, so we had a lot to live up to – the series kicked off with Klaus and Peter from the Coffee Collective in Copenhagen, and followed with Kyle and Charles from G&B in LA. Both brought their unique style of service and coffee choices to the table, with Coffee Collective having both experience in roasting operations and retail while G&B showcased their multi roaster concept and critically acclaimed special drinks menu from their bar in Grand Central Market in downtown LA.
For the first time, the residency would be taken over by a company who does not have direct experience in the day to day runnings of a cafe, since we do not have a retail space to showcase our coffee. Head Roaster Sang Ho and I were given the task of deciding on and implementing how the cafe would be run for the week, as PCP like to give absolute artistic freedom to the residences so that their customers can fully experience how coffee tastes and is served in other parts of the world. On one side of the cafe, the espresso service comes from a Linea PB and twin Mazzer grinders where they would normally pre-grind a la G&B, while the other side has a seated filter bar which serves mainly batch brew during the week, with a hand brew menu offered at weekends.
As we are big fans of grinding to order, we decided to swap out the Robur-E and pre-grinding for a Victoria Arduino Mythos One to help improve consistency. We also moved the EK43 from the espresso bar to the filter bar, as it had previously been used to grind for single origin espresso as well, and offered daily batch brew and hand brew options so as to be able to showcase 3 coffees at a time. We decided on Santa Lucia from Brazil, Los Monjes from Colombia and Wonago from Ethiopia – all great coffees showcasing each of the processing methods. On espresso, our seasonal blend Red Brick took care of all regular drinks, with Sweetshop and El Meridiano from Colombia being offered as additional choices.
The menu remained mainly unchanged, offering your usual mix of espresso and milk based drinks but with the addition of a one+one – split shot of espresso and single 5oz cappuccino, and a tasting flight to try all 3 filter coffees. We set the team the hard task of sourcing a slushy machine to hopefully play around with, and they came through with the goods! Since the weather was still warm, our coffee slushy went down a treat – an icy mix of Sweetshop espresso, Santa Lucia bulk brew, condensed milk, sugar syrup and a bit of extra full cream milk for mouthfeel.
Paramount employs some wonderfully talented people who run things daily, so we tried to not mess up their flow too much or be too demanding. Sang Ho helped out on the brew bar and kept things tasting delicious, with most of the staff wanting to spend a shift with the brew master himself to learn from his experience. Since we changed from pre-grinding back to grind to order, the staff and I had to adjust our workflow, and it took a full day for us to feel comfortable with changing up how drinks would be prepared, but once in full swing became really productive and increased workflow. It is inspiring to see a team of people who can adapt so easily, while still retaining such a positive attitude and professionalism.
Cupping and quality control are such big parts of our daily lives, so we decided to put on afternoon cupping sessions which showcased our current filter coffees and gave people an opportunity to taste coffees we are excited to work with. Each session invited 12 people around the cupping table, where we replicated our cupping protocols and had a great mix of baristas and coffee enthusiasts alike.
To give people an insight into Square Mile, we held an informal meet and greet where we spoke about our philosophy over a few beers, with Sang Ho making his take on an Irish Coffee for everyone in practice for Coffee in Good Spirits Competition. There were many interesting questions about how the company started and got to where it is today, along with our viewpoints on wholesale and how Sang Ho and Pete worked their way through the coffee industry to finally having the chance to work for a coffee roaster.
On the Friday, we held an intensive 3hr workshop incorporating Philosophy, Quality Control and Sensory Perception. This was aimed at coffee professionals who wanted to understand the way we maintain quality at all levels of what we do, and looked at Sang Ho’s study into the cupping sheet and ways that we can try to rework it to be more objective rather than subjective. Sensory perception showcased that our surroundings can greatly affect how we taste on a day to day basis, and challenged us to think about the choice of music, lighting and colour of cups we use in a cafe environment.
We can’t thank Dylan and the team enough, they were so inviting to us and made the residency interesting and fun. The team at Paramount Coffee Project have so effortlessly combined great coffee, creative and tasty food and charming hospitality that it is easy to see why they continue to be a force to be reckoned with. We only hope we can one day repay the favour and host you all in London.
With special thanks to Dylan, Koby, Laura, Jo, Julia, Anador, Annika, Hugh and the whole kitchen team for feeding us everything on the menu!