Sometimes when I hear of another cafe opening in Melbourne, the skeptic in me often wonders: is there even space for more in this town? There do seem to be more and more cafes popping up that do pretty much the same thing, but it’s refreshing when something different actually comes along. Enter Acoffee. Walking along Sackville Street in the inner-northern suburb of Collingwood, Acoffee is located within an eclectic mix of a brewery, a mechanic, a nursery, and housing.
Acoffee, which opened in April 2017, is a strikingly minimal space with one not-so-simple focus: coffee. The Acoffee brand began as a stand-alone roastery close to a year before the Collingwood space opened, when Byoung-Woo Kang (known as BW around Melbourne, formerly a roaster at Market Lane) set out on his own, turning beans brown on his brand-new Probatone 12 in a corner of the Sensory Lab production facility in Port Melbourne after his initial space fell through.
Over time, through supplying folks such as Slater St. Bench and Little Rogue, a unique partnership was formed with Frankie Tan, Nick Chen, Clay Tobin, and Joshua Crasti, which led to the collaborative opening of the Collingwood location (and the permanent home for Acoffee’s roasting operations).
Designed by the team of owners themselves—and with architectural and building experience and insight from Crasti specifically—Acoffee was transformed from an empty warehouse shell to a purposeful coffee haven, echoing the simple and transparent nature of the company’s goals. This process led to a design aesthetic that is largely minimal with one long white bench down the middle, encompassing the espresso machine, filter coffee brewing, and seating. Upon entering the space, this long line leads your eye toward the coffee roaster and the green storage at the back (sourced from Melbourne Coffee Merchants, Cafe Imports, Shared Source, and Caravela), making it incredibly clear what the focus of Acoffee is.
Talking to BW, it’s clear that every element of the place is incredibly deliberate. “A lot of people think of this place like a cafe, but it’s actually not—it’s a showroom where we showcase our product,” he says. “This is meant to be a place where people can enjoy our product and enjoy themselves as well and have a seat and do some work. So I’m hoping that this is a place where you can focus and just go into yourself.”
The brand design and packaging for Acoffee’s retail offering was done in collaboration with Remy Ventura Horta with a goal to keep the information to the essentials and nothing more. That same intention translated into the starting point for the Collingwood location’s operations.
Here, the offering stays in line with the aesthetic and is minimal—espresso coffee is brewed using a La Marzocco Linea PB (flanked by Victoria Arduino Mythos One grinders), while filter coffee is brewed exclusively using Hario V60s and Baratza Forte grinders. Pastries come from Penny for Pound in Richmond, with unique savory treats in the cabinet from Kolache Cravings in Preston, including delightful Czech-inspired items such as bread buns with fillings like pulled pork, or even ham and cheese.
This simple but deliberate ethos has gone over well with the busy Melbourne coffee world, with Acoffee showing up as guest coffee at places such as Lune Croissanterie and Market Lane Coffee, and Collingwood locals (among those further afield) finding their way there regularly.
“People come in here, and they don’t really see much, but to make it work we pay attention to a lot of the details,” says BW. “We just wanted to do something that we could do well, and we could do better.”
Eileen P. Kenny is a coffee professional, winemaker, and Sprudge Media Network contributor based in Melbourne. Read more Eileen P. Kenny on Sprudge.
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