15/03/2005 - 21:00

The atmosphere of coffee culture

15/03/2005 - 21:00

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The world’s second most-traded commodity after oil isn’t guns or gold. It’s coffee.

The atmosphere of coffee culture

The world’s second most-traded commodity after oil isn’t guns or gold. It’s coffee.

Coffee’s an international phenomenon, a worldwide addiction. Its consumption is almost a ritual for many, and it has become so mixed within the routine of our lives that many consider it a staple.

Coffee has strong cultural connections on all continents, from South America and Africa to Europe, North America and Australia.

While coffee is no fad in Australia it has become trendy to scrutinise the way it is drunk, no more so than in Perth which boasts more restaurants and cafes per head of population than anywhere else in the country.

And with the proliferation of coffee chains such as Caffissimo, Dome and Just Espresso to name a few, Gusto asked those with a keen nose for coffee what ingredients are needed to make a perfect brew.

Paul Saccone, the owner and manager  of Fremantle institution Gino’s, explains that great coffee is 20 per cent blend, 10 per cent machine and 70 per cent expressed by the “hand that makes it”.

 “The grind is so important,” he says, stating that the texture of the grind at Gino’s is adjusted four to six times a day depending on humidity.

To account for such variations is an art, and in a cafe that grinds 125 kilograms of coffee a week, it takes expert baristas trained in what Mr Saccone describes as the “knack of great coffee”.

“I follow what my father taught me”, he says.

Traditional Italian roots also percolate Perth’s European Foods, a business spokesman John Ferrari describes as “a food business with a coffee heart”. European Foods has produced Braziliano coffee, one of the most successful coffee blends made in Perth, ever since John Re began roasting in 1936.

The brand has created what is described as a ‘coffee army’, whose secret weapon is the Braziliano Coffee School in Northbridge. The centre works to train baristas, educating them in the skills of grinding and extraction.

 “We set it up in 1999,” Mr Ferrari says. “Now, 4,500 people later we feel as though we are helping to create consistency. Perth has coffee consistency problems at the retail end.

“We were doing all the right things with the blend then a 16-year old with no training who gets paid a pittance delivers our product for us.”

Mr Ferrari suggests Perth’s best cups of coffee usually come from high-volume outlets, especially in Fremantle, a centre he says deserves its reputation for good coffee.

 “In Fremantle you have old Italian men who want their espresso done right. You can’t bury bad coffee in milk down there,” he says.

It’s a sentiment echoed by David Gagiero, owner of Caffissimo Fremantle Coffee Roasters. The man who started a coffee business on the cappuccino strip, the most competitive coffee market in the state, describes the venture as “daunting” but has enjoyed early success since opening in October last year.

 “I was roasting at 2am last week,” he tells Gusto, explaining that the daily ritual separates his coffee from the rest. The Caffissimo blend is a closely guarded secret, according to master franchiser Simon Monaghan, and Gagiero’s American-made roaster highlights the freshness in the beans.

It adds to Fremantle’s coffee culture, important to pundits such as Mr Ferrari who describe the drink as “all about atmosphere”.

And atmosphere and good coffee is in plentiful supply at Fremantle’s 173 cafes and restaurants.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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