Umami Bar, 792 Hunter St, Newcastle West, Mon-Fri, 6am-3pm, Sat-Sun, 8am-2pm.
It is no coincidence that I have been writing a lot about Floozy Roasters of late. A year or so ago they didn’t exist and now they are the talk of the town.
Just like a café might suddenly appear on your nearest street corner and embody, under the one roof, all of the things that we love about drinking coffee, so too does this local roastery, and the two women who run it, symbolise our entrepreneurial espresso scene.
It is a scene, built upon a passion, borne out of a radical idea about the coffee business. Around here you can pay your bills, or even turn a profit, because of what you can create rather than how much you earn and own. So long as you are curious about your coffee and care more about your beans than your bank account, then your followers will love you for it. All you have to do then is keep grinding away.
If any Newcastle barista personifies this ethic it is Monique Ireland. When you walk into Umami, her new café in Newcastle West, among the first things you see is a shelf stacked with Floozy coffee. If that roaster and her café is, as Ireland calls it, a marriage, then it has a better chance than most.
The reason: as trite as it might sound, is respect – for each other, for a mutual commitment to quality and for empowering women to make their mark in the masculine world of coffee.
It is a respect that also extends from Umami to the customers themselves.
The lightly roasted blend at Umami combines Ecuadorian and Peruvian beans and a floral brightness of flavour that works with both black and milk-based coffees. It is a blend that fits neatly with a growing preference for less chocolatey, darker roasts that can often overpower the subtleties of the bean varietals. It is, in taste and appearance, a coffee made out of respect for the people who will drink it. A latte ($4) looks strong and glossy – light enough to host its flavours but heavy enough in body to remain on the palate.
As good as this blend is, this is a coffee that Ireland has chosen for more reasons than its lightness and versatility. For a barista that has worked in the Newcastle scene for over 20 years – since the days of the Tongue & Groove in The Junction – she has come to know what matters most when it comes to the beans on your shelf. The team at Floozy don’t just stand out for flavour, says Ireland, they stand up for ideas.
“Their integrity and their passion for their product is what I admire most,” Ireland says. “I wanted to be able to support their philosophy. The idea that you should care more about the small farmers you buy from than making a tonne of money. When it comes to coffee, your care and your passion is what matters,” she says.
A latte looks strong and glossy – light enough to host its flavours but heavy enough in body to remain on the palate.
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