So it was my first time in South Wharf for perhaps a year – I think my visit left me with a fantastic impression – the coffee and the weather probably had something to do with it. I also finally figured out where Polly Woodside was too!
South Wharf is rather far away but having been invited to a coffee cupping session at Charlie Lovett, I thought it would be well worth the trip and I’m happy to report I was right! At first I was a little hesitant because it seemed like a chain store and I’m a little picky with my coffee but I’m glad to say I was wrong! Melbourne has always had fantastic coffee so it’s a competitive place to build a reputation in this field but Charlie Lovett shouldn’t have a problem at all.
We met Adam, owner of Charlie Lovett at South Wharf, who taught us about how they buy directly from the coffee growers, ensuring they had the freshest green beans and fair conditions for the farmers. He went through the laborious process of growing coffee beans and how they came to be those coffee beans we all know and love from being cherries on the tree. It was quite amusing because I remember a little girl whose family I stayed with in India had picked up a handful of those cherries and had told me how her mum pan fried them and then made a drink out of them. I thought she was joking but those were actually coffee beans she had in her hand.
This was my first coffee cupping experience and Adam guided us through the technique of smelling and tasting the two different beans that we tried that day which were Columbian and Ethiopian Limmu. It was a fascinating experience because I’ve tried beans from both countries countless times mainly in lattes and had always favoured the Columbian beans more for their sweatness and ability to cut through milk based coffees. However, when it came to cupping, my friend and I both found the Ethiopian Limmu to be more exciting having less body but more fruity after tastes. We were (wisely) warned not to drink too much while coffee cupping as we were going to be offered coffees made from the two beans after the session – whilst I didn’t get palpitations I did feel rather awake while walking around DFO later on after all the coffees!
The two photos below are before and after steeping – we were taught to use the two spoons to try skim the layer of grinds off as much as possible – I think we didn’t do too badly but we all checked for the odd grind stuck in teeth/on lips afterwards….
Interestingly, we both ended up liking the Columbian more when served in a latte (or soy latte as we had).
I was quite surprised by the quality of the coffee at Charlie Lovett and it is little wonder they won some medals at The Golden Bean Award 2013. Their beans are freshly roasted on site by quite an impressive roaster located right next to their cash register and they also offer roasting information sessions. Adam jokingly described it as free labour but if you’re a coffeesnob who is interested in home roasting, he has some fantastic tips for choosing easy beans to roast and roasting profiles – I think he’s inspired me to do more with my Gene cafe coffee roaster because so far, I only really use the same profile and watch the end temperature.
At the end of the session we all got to take home 250g of freshly roasted coffee to try out at home – I think we all chose Adam’s favourite – Honduras which he described as having a slight hint of vanilla. Can’t wait to try it out at home.
The coffee cupping sessions run weekly on Friday and Saturday for $30. Bookings are essential and as a bonus, DFO is right around the corner and Santa is visiting at 2pm on weekends! Parking wise, Siddeley Street parking was only $7 whole day on the Saturday and located just across the bridge from Charlie Lovett.
So for all the shoppers planning to go to DFO South Wharf and need their daily caffeine, I’d wholeheartedly recommend Charlie Lovett. A ticket to their coffee cupping sessions would make an interesting present for fellow coffee lovers too! I’m afraid we didn’t try their food but they are, as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival in South Wharf, offering $10 off when you sign up to their newsletter on their website so there’s no better time than now to give them a go!