After years of searching for a proper foothold in Melbourne, all the while operating their wholesale coffee business out of a teeny office in Richmond, Kiwi outfit Allpress have finally found the perfect spot in Collingwood, opening up a vast roastery and cafe in the red brick former Famco lighting factory on Rupert Street.
Originally founded by Michael Allpress in Auckland back in 1986, the Melbourne outpost is hidden behind a high brick wall, which gives way to a rare green space in this largely industrial area, parked in front of a paved courtyard with chunky wooden outdoor tables.
The Roastery Cafe itself is a sleek affair, with a mosaic-tiled bar that stretches the full width of the sprawling space, dotted with cream woven and contrasting multi-coloured patchwork chairs. A unique ceiling made up of wood shavings and cement was intended as insulation but looked too cool to be covered up.
"It's just the most amazing building," says Allpress's Melbourne manager, Kirsty van der Plas. "Famco were the sole tenant before us, so it was in pretty mint condition and hadn't been renovated every decade."
As swish as it looks, van der Plas stresses that it's all about the working roastery, with a vast glass wall ensuring the team can be seen hard at work from any vantage point in the café. "First and foremost we're a wholesale coffee company, we're a roaster, so the cafe needs to showcase our coffee," she says. "It's a billboard. We're trying to create a space where people are able to sit here and have a really good idea of what we do every day."
The centrepiece of the business end of things is the Air Roasting Technologies (ART) roaster custom designed by Mike, suspending the beans in a constant flow of hot air, with no risk of scorching or tainting from residual smoke, which van der Plas says gives a more even roast and a sweeter flavour. "Mike wanted everything on one level, so it doesn't matter where you are standing in the building, you'll be able to see the roaster," she says. "It's a constant reminder of what we do."
The green credentials are spot on too, with the smoke funnelled through a thermal oxidiser before heading back into the air clean as can be, water tanks under the car park and solar panels on the roof.
The cupping room sits between the beautiful ART with its diamond-patterned and shiny golden face, with daily quality control tastings and a constant stream of industry types coming through. There are plans for the public to get a look in down the line, too.
Roaster Liam Gubb is super-excited to be getting his hands on the ART. "We're really lucky, because this machine is pretty advanced," he grins. "It's good to learn some new techniques. I'm so looking forward to it. We'll be able to automatically load our four main single origins, but if we're doing a small, single origin roast, we can also load manually."
Coffee-lovers will be able to taste and then buy fresh-roasted beans to take home. The cafe keeps the food offering simple, with a menu designed by co-owner and restaurateur, Tony Papas. Fresh-baked breads and cakes sit alongside a breakfast platter with a boiled egg, avocado, tomato and provolone that can be served with either prosciutto or smoked salmon, and there's a yummy range of sandwiches including one stuffed with mortadella, artichoke and mint. "It's all about fresh ingredients," van der Plas says. "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel."
Allpress are committed to being a part of each community they settle in, so much so they even used the builders over the road, Ficus Constructions, to realise Mike's design. A huge space upstairs, with its own separate entrance, polished timber floors, soaring white walls and barn-like ceiling, has been given over as a community studio, with the idea being that students, emerging artists and musicians will be able to use it for exhibitions and events.
The gorgeous space has already played host to a collaboration between Muso, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's (MSO) music-lover initiative for 18-35-year-olds, Dumbo Feather magazine and Good Beer Week. Dubbed Beerhoven, the evening saw three of the MSO's world-class performers play classical music that was matched to beers from three of Melbourne's microbrewers.
"The site was a lot larger than we actually needed for the business, but we fell in love with it," van der Plas says. "So we did something special upstairs, and we hope that will cement us as a part of the community as opposed to just being a business. We're in it for the long haul."
Allpress Roastery Cafe | 80 Rupert Street in Collingwood
Website | 03 8405 5755
Mon - Fri, 7am - 4pm
Sat - Sun, 8am - 4pm
All Image Credits: Ryan Noreiks, The Urban List.