Brisbane Cafe Review: John Mills Himself, CBD

From the team of geniuses (Oxford says that’s the official plural) who brought you Bunker, comes another spectacular reclaimed space turned specialty coffee hotspot. Seriously. I believe these guys could turn anything, anywhere, into a cosy place for delivering stellar coffee experiences. And within a few weeks they’ll be offering up boutique beers as well. So you’ll never have to leave.

The name John Mills Himself comes from the building – apparently formerly a little stationery nook proprietored by John Mills, himself. The tile mosaic that greets you at the door of this space (down a hill, behind some buildings on Elizabeth St) is a beautiful homage to the store’s roots.

The exposed brick interior makes this a particularly comfortable bolthole, especially when the visual vibe is complemented by a beautiful old school bar with touches of marble, and there’s a piano. It’s a great space – and if early indications are anything to go by, once word truly gets out, these guys are going to be kept pretty busy.

I’d just been to Strauss, so didn’t have my standard flat white. And even if I had, I wouldn’t want to talk about it. The coffees at JMH are supplied by three of my absolute favourite roasters – Cup, Uncle Joe’s, and The Single Guys – Marcus from Bunker/JMH spent a fair bit of time trying to figure out how to both minimise drink miles and recognise the incredible standard of coffee roasting in Brisbane, when I spoke to him a while back he was trying to narrow down his choice, but I think the rotating approach, for a non-roaster, is both spectacularly generous to other parties in the Brisbane scene and a win for punters. I have no doubt that had I enjoyed a traditional espresso based drink John Mills Himself would have well acquitted the task. But I want to talk about something else.

The best filter coffee I’ve ever had.

This, believe it or not, is a revolution.

It was poured using the espresso machine. And why not? It is a multi-thousand dollar water heater. This approach was pioneered by St Ali’s Matt Perger at the World Barista Championships last year (video), and while Marcus took his lead from Matt’s approach, the finer details are of his own making. And the man has a palate.

If you’re not a coffee geek – you just need to know that this particular coffee, using an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe roasted by Uncle Joe’s, was delicate, sweet, fruity, and exceptionally well balanced.

If you are a coffee geek – or are aspiring to be – you need to know a little bit about brew ratios and stuff. Here’s how Matt Perger explains his approach to the “Coffee Shot” in PDF form.

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 6.47.09 am

 

Image: From the PDF mentioned above

Unlike Matt’s approach – which involved running the beans through a Mahlkonig EK-43 – a grinder not traditionally used for espresso production in a cafe setting (read more about the EK-43 from James Hoffman, a former World Barista Champion – Marcus is using a stock standard Mazzer Robur. Which he believes delivers a better flavour.

To really understand the geekery here – you’ll need to read up on coffee extraction percentages (James Hoffman again – weight of coffee to weight of drink produced) and “strength” which uses Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) as a measure (Gizmodo this time – concentration of coffee particles in the liquid). For a quick primer from wikipedia:

Extraction (Also known as “solubles yield”) – what percentage (by weight) of the grounds are dissolved in the water.

Strength (Also known as “solubles concentration”) – how concentrated or watery the coffee is.

Brew ratio – The ratio of coffee grounds (mass, in grams ) to water (volume, in litres): how much coffee is used for a given quantity of water.

Perger’s “Coffee Shots” challenged conventional ratios:

“Coffee shots reach and exceed an extraction yield of 24%; far above the now industry standard 18-22%.”

At the WBC, Matt Perger filtered his Coffee Shots through filter paper – JMH is doing this too. But they’ve adopted a slightly different approach. According to Marcus (if I heard correctly) their extraction ratio, from 19 grams of coffee, is closer to conventional (19%), but they are diluting the shots, with water, to achieve 7 grams per 100 mL (7%). I jotted this down on my phone’s notepad app after listening to Marcus – so I may have some of the figures slightly wrong.

Anyway. Coffee geekery over.

All you need to know is that these guys are serious about their coffee, in a seriously cool place. And that should be enough for you to check them out.

Brisbane Cafe Review: Uncle Joe’s Coffee House, Coorparoo

We’ve been driving past the old Red Rooster on Cavendish Road for about six months with the knowledge that it was slated to become a pretty special cafe. Brisbane, let me introduce you to the newest addition to our specialty coffee scene. Uncle Joe’s Coffee House. It’s pretty close to where we live so I’m very excited about the prospect of these guys opening on Saturdays (coming soon), and serving food that matches the quality of the coffee (also coming soon).

Adam, who was flying solo today because his business partner had a bit of a breakdown en route to work, is one of the nicest coffee people I’ve met. And coffee people, because caffeine is pumping through their veins, are generally some of the nicest people in the world anyway. He was busy, single handedly manning the beautiful and heavily customised Kees Van Der Western Mirage – it’s got longer than usual pre-infusion and enhanced temperature stability. Adam’s excitement about that was enough to mark him out as a guy with industry experience that is matched by the type of passion that keeps you getting up for an early morning commute from the Gold Coast to your brand new Brisbane cafe… for a 7am start. He weighs his shots and does other hallmark coffee geekery stuff to make sure the coffee is pouring sweetly and without too much cluttering bitterness or cloying roast-produced body. These guys are committed to getting the best shots out of the best beans. And I love that.

Here’s a Mirage in all its glory… just so you can see how special they look.

And here’s Uncle Joe’s Mirage in the wild.

The Supafly Blend isn’t named for the famous Joe Cartoon character – more for Adam’s reaction to tasting it once the decision was made to include the Rwanda Mig Maraba that rounds out the blend. The guys are committed to sourcing sensational beans from around the world, roasting them through their 3rd Crack Coffee Brokerage (and selling them green for keen home roasters like me).

The fitout was nice, full of earthy tones, nothing too cold, and full of bits and pieces of carefully chosen coffee paraphernalia.

The coffees were remarkably good. The blend was well balanced and delicious in milk, the Guatemalan was roasted light, just how I like it, so the characteristic sweetness wasn’t drowned out in a see of body and roastiness. And the coffees – as the sign says – were served at around 65 degrees. Perfect.

They’re also starting up a brew bar in the next few weeks, and Adam whipped us up a delicious Aeropress today on the sensational Guatemalan Santa Felisha that’s their current Single Origin (it was delicious in milk, outstanding as an espresso, and mind blowing as an Aeropress – Adam gave us a timer so we could track the changes in the flavour profile as it cooled, he said the 15 minute mark was the sweet spot – so we waited. And he was right.

The Aeropress coffee goes into the funky pouring kettle.

I’m thrilled to have a cafe producing this sort of coffee sourced from around the world by a world class sensory judge – Joe Hsu from Osir in Taiwan, who the cafe is named after – and blind tasted so us consumers are getting coffee that tastes good, not coffee sold on reputation alone. They’re still waiting on some top quality, high brow, porcelain cups – so they’re serving dine in coffees of all varieties in glassware at the moment – but this will be my local (alongside Grindhouse and Dramanti obviously).

Definitely check this place out. Add it to your coffee crawl itineraries. This was one of the best first time experiences I’ve ever had at a cafe, and I’ve been to lots. They’re only going to get better too as the fitout is finished, and the menu expanded. I seriously can’t think of a negative thing to say, even the music was good. Oh wait. Parking appears difficult. We parked out the back because we didn’t see the “tenant parking only” sign. There you go. But there’s a supermarket with plenty of space across the road, and the Coorparoo market next door, which also has heaps of parking. And people were just rocking up and parking out the front while we were there – so that’s not even really a negative.

They’ll be selling Aeropress kits with Able Disks and these funky kettles soon.

You can hit up Uncle Joe’s Cafe on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Creative design from the South

Get in touch with us!

Bad Behavior has blocked 281 access attempts in the last 7 days.