The days when the BHP steelworks once dominated Newcastle’s inner-city skyline combined with the ever-growing coal loading port affords Newcastle with a reputation as an industrial city. The young team behind Sprocket, an inner-city café on Hunter Street, lends to this characterisation (on a much smaller scale) with their one-of-a-kind design for an on-site bean roaster that runs entirely on waste products, such as used coffee grounds and packaging. Unlike the coal industry, their invention propels their operation into carbon-neutral territory.
Located in a building that looks like a once grand bank (if the tall ceiling with intricate architrave is anything to go by), see-through pneumatic tubes traverse the wall along one end offering customers a first-hand view of the roasting and packing process. Their hand-stamped bags of various roasted beans line shelves and naturally a quality cup of coffee is always at hand. These guys know their coffee.
I’m wary of purchasing an at home coffee machine should my daily intake turn warp-speed but when I heard that Sprocket was hosting coffee lessons I jumped at the chance to learn my latte from my flat white just in case the occasion ever arrives. Which is likely given I can now weave a fern pattern into milk foam.
However I realise making a good coffee is about so much more than foam art. I understand how grind determines use, what ‘tamping’ means (the method of compressing ground coffee in a filter basket), how much ground coffee to use in each handle (8g for a single basket), the steps to a perfect espresso, the importance of good crema and how to get it, plus I’ve mastered the art of making velvety milk (from both cow milk and soy). I am well and truly on my way to operating a cafe at my own house.
The cozy interior even when it’s set up for coffee class.
L: The industrial in-house and one-of-a-kind coffee roaster R: The house special ‘Sprocket Rocket’
L: Mismatched crockery lends an air of old-school R: That’s a tamper in the foreground!
Freshly sealed coffee beans for the home coffee connoisseur.
Having a crack on the three different coffee machines.
L: Securing the filter baskets; the trickiest lesson of all.
R: Pouring the right amount of froth came a close second.
Inspecting a finished latte for correct froth ratio – it’s all about the froth.
L: Concentrating on coffee extraction R: Having fun perfecting foam art.
There wasn’t much sampling happening at 8pm, just lots of practice.
68 Hunter Street, Newcastle
02 4009 1237