Allpress first got started in 1986 after Michael Allpress witnessed the revival of specialty coffee in the city of Seattle and decided to bring that experience back home to New Zealand with Allpress’s first coffee cart. Fast forward to today and they’re roasting in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore and The United Kingdom
We caught up with Cam MacFayden, Global Head Roaster at Allpress, to get to know more about our November Roaster Residence and to discover the coffee we’ll be drinking and sharing with you all this month.
How long have you been roasting with Allpress?
It’s just ticked over the 8 years mark a couple of months ago. It’s been an excellent place to learn the craft and I was lucky enough to spend a big chunk of that time in the UK working in our old and new London roasteries during a time when we were growing really fast which was super exciting.
What initially drew you to coffee roasting?
Going in for a barista training at a roastery and getting a glimpse of what was going on. At the time, I naively hadn’t really thought a whole lot about what happened before the coffee arrived at the café. I thought the beans just turned up and we did all the magic on the machine! Seeing it all in action, smelling the smells and meeting coffee lovers doing their thing was a real eye-opener and I knew I was going to pursue a coffee job “behind the scenes” eventually.
Which coffee will you be featuring this month? What is the recommended recipe?
Our A.R.T. Espresso Roast. It’s pretty forgiving but you’ll get great results between 17-18gm in, 25-28 seconds, 38-42gm out.
What’s the meaning behind the name A.R.T. ?
Air Roasting Technologies – this is the company that our founder Michael Allpress established to satisfy his pursuit for the perfect coffee roaster, and accurate control over the roasting process. We started on a path using fluidised bed hot air roasters some time ago, the first being a 70kg Sivetz that is still in our Browns Mill roastery in Freemans Bay. Mike enlisted his mate, another Mike (Scobie), to engineer some improvements to gain more control over the roaster. The Sivetz was heavily modified, with profiling software, variable fan drive, PID controlled burners etc. to allow us to slow things down and accurately and repeatedly profile the roasts. Following that, the first A.R.T. Roaster was built from the ground up for our Dunedin roastery, making more improvements again in the pursuit of control and consistency. Two more have followed for our Melbourne and London roasteries, with each model refining on the previous one.
What are the benefits of having a coffee roaster built by a roaster?
Having a founder obsessed with flavour is a huge advantage! We roast a certain style, big on flavour, big body and long rich aftertastes. Predominately in the medium to medium/dark range. We’ve been able to make efficient roasters with great airflow and fine control, meaning we can really take on the development of the roast to get maximum flavour without taking it too far. The fluidised bed hot air method is valued in the industry for producing coffee with great clarity, yet big body, sweetness and length without being smoky or tainted. By having a roaster built by a roaster we’ve got machinery that is perfectly suited to how we want to express the flavour in the cup.
How does A.R.T. espresso fit within the range of Allpress coffees? What makes it unique?
It’s the darkest blend in our offering. We like to speak about it as being “big, fat and chocolatey” – that kinda sums it up! It’s a good old school espresso, nice and sweet, chocolate and toffee are the main flavour notes, with a very subtle citric acidity for balance. Long dark choc aftertaste, it’s great black or with milk. It’s unique because it’s dark, but doesn’t have that dry, smoky, overly bitter flavour that a lot of dark roasts tend to get. We roast it carefully, but the roast method really helps achieve that too.
Michael Allpress has some pretty strong feelings when it comes to the F-word, flavour. What 3 words would you use to describe the flavours people have come to expect from Allpress?
Consistent, sweet, clean.
La Marzocco and Allpress have had a close relationship since Michael Allpress sent that famous fax to the late Piero Bambi back in 1992. Fast forward to now – Allpress recently was named the Denizen Hospo Heros Most Consistent Morning Coffee. Do you think the consistency of Allpress coffee has benefited from Allpress’ use of La Marzocco espresso machines?
Of course! The reliability of La Marzocco machines is legendary. Brewing espresso is not overly complicated once you understand what’s going on, but if one of your variables gets thrown out things can quickly unravel. We take care of the coffee side of things. Grinders are very important too. But you need to be able to rely on the water temperature, pressure, flow rates and dispersion to be consistent, shot after shot. The steam pressure is always spot on too and doesn’t interfere with the brewing. I reckon from a wholesale perspective, our coffee and La Marzocco machines enable our café customers to put out very consistent coffee and just focus on the other aspects of their business, the food and service etc. without needing to worry about the coffee, it’s in good hands.
That’s cool because you could buy a Linea Mini espresso machine and make some A.R.T espresso coffee at home and I’d say you’d come out with a pretty consistent brew.
What do you see as the next big trend in coffee?
I’m a bit late but it looks like oat milk is here to stay. I’m also starting to see a bit of a swing back to slightly darker roasts again too, after a few years there of everyone going lighter and lighter. That works pretty well for filter but I think you need a good amount of development for a well rounded espresso. As roasters get more control over the process, the ability to go darker while avoiding the introduction of burnt and smoky notes means you can get the most flavour in the cup. Mike gets it.
What is your morning coffee ritual at home?
My mornings tend to be a bit rushed and my first coffee of the day is at work most days, but I do love my weekend brews. Hand grinder, pour over brew, a cup each for me and my wife, followed by a cheeky half cup extra for myself leftover at the end.
When you’re out at a café, what’s your go-to coffee order?
The true test is a long black, there’s nowhere to hide. But I do mix it up with a flat white from time to time.
Any espresso recommendations for the summer when it starts to heat up?
I’m hearing great things about espresso, tonic & lemon and don’t forget about the trusty old iced latte either, guys. We’re also just about to release a cold coffee concentrate made from another of our blends ‘The Good Brew’. A shot of that over ice with soda, orange and maple syrup really hits the spot.