Coffee is Italian. Ask my stepsister Deborah who comes from Lecce, in the heel of the Italian boot.
In Melbourne, Lisa and Fabio Costa opened a coffee shop at the entrance to the Queen Victoria Market, on Elizabeth Street. It is called Coffea. Though Fabio and Lisa were born in Australia and speak with the typical local Aussie accent, their words sounds like they have ‘un petit je-ne-sais-quoi’ as they move their hands and laugh. Doubtless, this musical speech is inherited from their parents from Calabria, and Veneto. Besides, like every Italian child, they grew up with caffe latte at breakfast, which gives a sense of how important the beverage is for them.
They were among the first ones to sell fresh roasted coffee in the city centre. And, this happened by chance, ten years ago. After performing her errands at the market Lisa would push the pram past this empty retail shop and think: « What a pity mothers like me can’t have a proper coffee after buying groceries ». She spoke to Fabio who was already working in the coffee industry. They rented the place and bought the roasting pot, which now has pride of place in the middle of the coffee shop. Their decision was the right one. In the first year, they doubled their turnover.
To make the difference, home roasting is essential, they insist: ‘Italian coffee is excellent, but by the time it comes from Europe it has lost its freshness. I buy my beans directly at a coffee broker’s place, roast them and create my blends’ Like a wine maker? Yes, he agrees. It is a science.
In this cosy coffee shop, we sit next to the roaster. Behind it, countless coffee bags stand on wooden shelves. The shop looks like an Italian bottega. It is a trip to Venice. Fabio is the one who roasts, on Wednesdays. But he won’t unveil the recipe of his espresso. There are 5 different varieties of beans, from Brazil and Indonesia. Each one is roasted separately to respect its type. The Indonesian, much darker, requires a shorter time in the heat. ‘I have developed this espresso for the softer water we have here in Australia compare to European water.’
Fabio dives behind the counter and grabs a card to show me. ‘This is one is the blend made by one of our customer’s to suit his own taste. After many attempts, he created it himself from New Guinea Peaberry, light and sweet, Moundheling, full body and strong, to which is added a flavoured Kenyan coffee.’ Fabio describes it: ‘It is a strong flavoured coffee with a sweeter finish at the end’.
When visiting Melbourne, have a coffee there, and try the chestnut, pine nut and rosemary cake. It is also baked from a secret family recipe that Lisa won’t share.
To order on line: http://www.coffeacoffee.com.au