16.5 C
Byron Shire
April 15, 2021


Latest News

SCU named as partner in two national drought hubs

Southern Cross University has been announced as playing a crucial partnership role in two new Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs.

Other News

Is it solar fair?

Meg Pickup, Ballina The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) draft rule change will result in solar households and businesses being...

Maybe Canberra needs a bit of distraction biff

Mick breathed in but his Cronulla Sharks football jersey struggled to contain his well-insulated six-pack and he held up his hand as he approached Bazza in the front bar of the Top Pub.

Interview with Jean Kittson

Comedian, writer, and social commentator Jean Kittson has the ability to distil complex ideas into commonsense. Jean is one of the national treasures in conversation with Mandy Nolan and Fiona O’Loughlin at No Eggs for Breakfast, a comedic chat themed around life beyond fertility! It seemed remiss not to ask Ms Kittson on her take on the debacle that is federal politics and gender equity.

Councillors move to create alternative housing market

Byron Council is aiming to make 10 per cent of local housing genuinely affordable within the space of a decade, under a brave and ambitious plan to implement a Community Land Trust (CLT) model across the Shire.  

Beware of flood damage scams

NSW Fair Trading is warning consumers about opportunistic tradespeople trying to take advantage during the flood recovery process as the state gets back on its feet.

SCU named as partner in two national drought hubs

Southern Cross University has been announced as playing a crucial partnership role in two new Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs.

Photo Craig Kirkwood
Photo Craig Kirkwood

Matthew Michaelis

Today’s coffee is a world away from the red-eye dark-ages of swampy overheated ‘cuppashinos’.

Coffee beans are making and breaking the banks of many an ardent grower. Bean counters are more than just over-protective accountants; they’re the growers, the roasters and blenders behind the bright young cafe owners that every day face caffeine addicts like me and maybe you. I admit that while others were stashing food away for the Mayan end of days, I was stoking an oversized commercial espresso machine I kept running in my garage for an exceptional morning macchiato. All the brouhaha was short lived as my electricity bill came and I wished it were the ‘end of days’.


I hark back to a time when coffee was predominantly served from tins and when, ironically, the big corporate coffee companies were buying the best Arabica beans the world could provide for coffee powder. The only thing that remains the same today is that these companies still have dibs on the best beans the world can grow.

Sheer buying power I suppose. Though, if you’ve passed a Nescafé pod shop, they’re especially ‘trying’. Stiff white shirts, dark wooden cabinets and walls decorated with recyclable pods that scream ‘classy’ as you run out the door to escape the zealots fronting these nouveau podderies.

So, in these somber times when a boutique coffee roaster is flogging their wares to a handsome boutique cafe, they’re generally very staunch and serious about their trade indeed.

A weak excuse

In the 80s such care and consideration for the fabulous brown nectar was all but non-existent.

I operated my first cafe during this time. It was situated in Balmain – Café de la Rue was my baby. This was a well-patronised cafe of the day. Overlooking Sydney Harbour and the Harbour Bridge, it had a distinct French feel created mainly through its large outdoor balcony, gingham napery and the ever-yapping population of small dogs sitting between large plump legs under tables.

Flanking the interior wall was a mural depicting a 1900s French cartoon with dogs pooing, cockroaches walking up walls, bow-tied and moustached waiters smashing plates. This was a ‘trendy’ place in the 80s; and what about the coffee, I hear you ask. At the time, we served the stuff in tankards with two litres of milk, high-rise froth and a fleck or two of unintended coffee grounds to garnish.

I had to leave the cafe urgently one day and, as I was stuck for a replacement, my teenage niece was in town and ensured me she knew her way around an espresso machine. She replaced me that day, and when I returned to thank her, I noticed she was making a coffee and hadn’t put the coffee in the filter. I quizzed her on this, she replied ‘Oh, really? I thought it added the coffee automatically.’

Not one of my cafe regulars noticed; neither had any other innocent customer complained during the hours that coffees had been served all fluffy with just a strain of coffee in them. If a cafe did the same these days, it would be tantamount to committing assault and probably just as serious a response would be levelled at the proprietor.

The shameful bad old days

Nowadays, through a steady diet of reality TV and gourmet snobbery of the sort that educated taste buds expound, our coffee is some of the finest to be found anywhere in the world.

One of the few lucky ones that had someone looking out for me upstairs, I was accidentally trained in the fine art of coffee by one of the world-weary Bar Italia brothers of the East Sydney cafe district. He dragged his deep black underlined eyes into me one bright Sunday morning and, like a gangster lifting his sunglasses a few centimetres, he said, ‘Maaate! I love this place, but you don’t know the first f—ing thing about making coffee… I need to show you how it’s done so I can keep coming here – okay?’.

I rose to the challenge and the rest is history. The resultant evolution can be seen in cafe society here in the northern rivers and anywhere where cafes group together. The folk being served daily are either blissfully unaware that they’re spoilt for choice or, like me, are trying to forget the shameful bad old days of the Aussie coffee house.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

ALP puts war power reform on the agenda

The Australian Labor Party will hold a public inquiry into how Australia goes to war if elected to government next year.

Help from Red Cross for flood-affected communities in NSW

With disasters coming thick and fast as the climate emergency worsens, Australian Red Cross this morning launched financial help for flood-affected communities in NSW.

Rocky Creek Field Day coming in July

As part of the Rural Landholder Initiative, rural landholders in the Rocky Creek area are invited to an Off-stream Watering and Riparian Habitat Field Day.

Professor Graham Samuel says dementia care is personal

In a moving address to the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, Dementia Australia Chair Professor Graham Samuel AC shared his personal experience of dementia – the anguish, bewilderment, frustration and torment experienced by his mother as she descended into the abyss of the disease.