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April 18, 2021

Mullum’s Coffee Gets Roasted

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Pat Solvyn behind the espresso machine
Pat Solvyn behind the espresso machine

Vivienne Pearson

It’s perfect that Pat Solvyn and Tamara Head fell in love over a coffee machine, as they are now co-owners of Mullumbimby’s first coffee roastery.

The Branches Coffee Roastery and Espresso Bar has only been open since Monday, though the couple have had their eye on a Mullum location for some time. ‘We’ve been visiting the area for 20 years,’ says Pat. ‘We love the wholesome community life here. Our only regret is that we didn’t move sooner.’

Both have strong hospitality backgrounds, mainly from their years in Newcastle. Both are baristas and have a desire to share their love of coffee, good music and honest interaction. In addition, Tamara focuses on the food, currently a simple but wholesome offering. Pat is the roaster, having worked around coffee roasters for twelve years.

You might assume that coffee roasting is a long way from his background as a visual artist but not so. Pat relishes the art that sits alongside the science of roasting: ‘It is an artistic process in itself,’ he notes. Visitors are welcome to watch the roasting process in action.

The Branches is located in the Mullum Industrial Estate. This is not an area famed for its food; however, this is changing. Another cafe also recently opened its doors and a food hub (with a production focus) is under construction.

The Espresso Bar and Roastery each occupy one of two connected halves of the building, echoing the art and industry involved in coffee roasting. The 15kg roaster dominates one sparse, concrete half.

The other half is the cafe, dominated by a bold mural hand-painted by a sign-writer friend. The entrance is surprisingly enchanting for such a location, with customers arriving to yarn-bombed poles and a pot of flowering perennials.

The pair’s immediate plan is to continue to ‘see more people coming in each day’, start supplying roasted coffee to other cafes and, down the track, to open on weekends. The vision for The Branches is for it to become part of the community and for people to share their love of the ritual and sensory experience that coffee involves. Pat reflects: ‘We chose the name as branches nurture life and support growth.’

Pat recently proposed to Tamara under a waterfall in India. A waterfall might be harder than a coffee machine to incorporate into their new venture, but with these two, you never know!

• The Branches Unit 7, 9–11 Towers Road, Mullumbimby Industrial Estate. Open 6.30am–3.30pm Monday to Friday. Facebook (The Branches Coffee Roasters) and Instagram (thebranches_).

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