SAMPLE COFFEE'S Sydney-dwelling coffee connoisseur Reuben Mardan opened the single shop-fronted Surry Hills Coffee Bar in 2011, adding St Peters Pro Shop & Roastery three years later.
The latter setting is a pared-back, high-ceilinged, naturally sunlit dream, replete with exposed metal fittings and curvaceous tiled counter dotted with wooden stools. The delicious modern Australian menu, incredible coffee and super-friendly service pull in a local, smart, creative crowd – in short, it’s all you want from a neighbourhood coffee haunt. We caught up with Reuben to chat about coffee, aroma and travel.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOU & THE BUSINESS
Sample Coffee has been operating for almost five years. We started with a small shop in Surry Hills, which was just doing coffee and then almost two years ago we opened Sample Coffee Pro Shop with the roaster, supplying wholesale and also, supplying to both shops.
We also launched an online subscription, which has been really popular – it’s called Brew Crew. Each fortnight we send out a different, interesting coffee with a bit of a story behind it.
I’ve been working in coffee for almost 15 years now. We try to source ethical and high-quality coffee. All of our coffee… we know where it comes from. We know the path it’s taken to get to us and who it’s travelled with. It’s mainly sourced from Central and South America, and Western Africa.
WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WORK DAY LOOK LIKE?
I wake up at 6.10, head to Surry Hills, check in with those guys and drink some coffee with them. I’ll check if anything needs to be fixed. Then I come back here (St. Peters Pro Shop) and do some roster work… the boring stuff. I do a bit of everything. I guess you could say I’m the glue – all the cogs are there, I’ve just got to make sure things keep running. We’re still very small!
HOW DOES SCENT RELATE TO YOUR WORK?
It’s all about flavour. Coffee is chosen on flavour but it goes without saying that flavour is linked to aroma. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to eat or drink something with a blocked nose. You don’t taste anything. Without aroma and scent of the coffee beans, there’s nothing. The two – aroma and flavour – very much intertwine.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT SYDNEY?
I would have to say its diversity. It’s got really good food culture and the weather is pretty great too!
ANY UPCOMING TRAVEL PLANS?
I will go back to Colombia in November/December and then Ethiopia and Kenya next February for work. I’m planning to go to Tasmania at the end of the year to see my family – they moved down there – about half an hour south of Hobart. It’s cool – I will get a chance to explore. It’s really beautiful down there.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL WEEKEND LOOK LIKE?
My weekend tends to be: wake up, get coffee and pastries and then drive to the Blue Mountains to go rock-climbing.
EAT: Sample Coffee St. Peters Pro Shop
I like to try as many new places and drink as much different coffee as possible, but it’s easy to come here. We have Penny Four's pastries, which are as good as any in Sydney. The coffee is good. It’s convenience too – it takes an hour to two to get to the Blue Mountains – you don’t want to faff around too much!
Surry Hills Coffee Bar, 118a Devonshire Street (cnr Holt St), Surry Hills. samplecoffee.com.au
St Peters Pro Shop & Roastery, Suite 1.03, 75 Mary St (cnr Albion Lane), St Peters. +61 2 9517 3963
DRINK: Cassiopeia, Katoomba, Blue Mountains
This is a pretty good little spot in the Blue Mountains. Cassiopeia is all about the coffee. The fit out is cool – very laid-back The team that work there are really friendly too. The mountains lack in restaurants a little, whereas Sydney has such abundance.
Cassiopeia Specialty Coffee, 79 Lurline St, Katoomba, Blue Mountains. +61 2 4782 9299
PLAY: Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym
I head to St. Peters during the week and the mountains on the weekend. I like it because you just detach 100% from your workweek. It’s like really good yoga, something where you are in the moment and not thinking about other things.
Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym, Unit 4C/1-7, Unwins Bridge Rd, St Peters. +61 2 9519 3325, indoorclimbing.com.au
Brought to you by Luxe City Guides in collaboration with Lumira.