Learning the Art of Coffee at Haven, Surry Hills

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I have to admit, I was never really a coffee person. While some have a ritual cup to wake them up in the morning, and others crave it simply for the taste, I was indifferent - attracted to only the smell of coffee, as opposed to the drink itself. That all changed when I visited Haven.

The philosophy of Haven is all in its name. They take pride and joy in the ultimate tailored coffee. As well as being well-known for their Asian fusion cross Modern Australian menu, it's really all about the coffee experience at this café. A coffee haven, if you like.

Enjoy your cup of coffee in a light-filled, hipster café space dotted with white accents and polished timber tabletops just across from Central Station.

The concept of coffee tailoring is both an art and a science. It's an art because the perfect coffee is quite a subjective matter, however the precision involved in making the perfect cup resembles a science that is mastered over many years of experience.

Head Barista Bruno Koo

I was lucky enough to be invited to a coffee tailoring workshop thanks to Zomato, where we got to learn all about the art of coffee and tried our hand at making my very own pour-over coffee and latte art. This was lead by head barista, WBC Sensory Judge and international latte art champion, Bruno Koo.

It was at this workshop that my coffee indifference turned into an appreciation.

Coffee connoisseurs are spoilt for choice here, with three different types of single origin coffee beans on offer: fruity, nutty and chocolaty. Each is classified according to the flavour and aroma of the bean, and comes either as a pour-over coffee, which is served hot using a precise pour-over method, or as a cold brew (think the chill factor of iced tea, only with pure coffee and water).

Each different bean is served with it's own special accompaniment, which Bruno tells us enhances the flavour of the respective brews. The fruity blend is served alongside almonds, the nutty with cocoa nibs, and the chocolaty blend with sweet currants. The idea is to nibble on these between sips of coffee, which brings out the flavour and vibrancy of the beans. The difference is quite astonishing. 

The fruity brew is bright and vibrant, while the chocolaty beans which have a rich, deep, dark flavour. Of the three, the nutty beans are the most full-bodied. The best way to savour your coffee? Take small, quick sips, drawing in air as you suck up the liquid to aerate each mouthful. We watch the baristas do this with a professional air, although when I try this myself I feel like I look nowhere near as skilled as them. 

As part of our workshop we got an insight into the art of pour-over coffee. This is where the real tailoring concept comes in, with elements like acidity, sweetness, aroma and aftertaste customised to your own taste depending on the bean grind size, water temperature, blooming time, coffee to water ratio and bean origin.

Bruno demonstrates this difference by brewing the coffee using water at two different temperatures - 95 degrees and 85 degrees. While the coffee brewed at the higher temperature has a more vibrant, acidic flavour, the second cup is more fruity and mellow.

Baristas at work
To help us appreciate the art of pour over coffee, we are taken through the meticulous process step by step. In a nutshell, this method involves pouring precise amounts of tempered water over the beans in order to let them 'bloom', after which the brew is then extracted using a filter before drinking. 

Pour over coffee brewing
This is carried out over a set of special coffee scales, which not only weighs the beans and water, but also displays a timer for optimum coffee brewing. Measurement and precision is paramount here, where even the slightest change can result in a different tasting cup of coffee. 

Weighing the beans
First the coffee beans are weighed, then ground to lend an aromatic, toasty flavour. The filter paper which lines the filter is moistened, after which the ground beans are placed in. 

The pour
Just enough freshly hot water, boiled to the desired temperature, is poured over the beans in what is known as the first pour. Following this, the wet coffee is left to bloom for thirty seconds to allow carbon dioxide to be released from the beans and produce a more pungent, full brew. 

The second pour lasts twenty seconds, during which water is poured over the beans in a circular motion, then left to settle for fifteen seconds. 

Coffee extraction
The last pour is the fastest, and the one in which the largest volume of water is poured over the beans. Finally, the coffee is left to filter through the paper into the cup to be enjoyed. What a process! This carefully and lovingly brewed cup of coffee is one that begs to be appreciated.  

We were also able to learn all about latte art from the master himself. And I can tell you, it's not as easy as it looks.

Latte art
When it comes to latte art, there are three main shapes that baristas tend to create. 

Creating the swan-shaped latte art
The tulip is a conventional circular pattern, and the swan is a touch more difficult as it involves shaking the milk jug as it's poured into the coffee. The rosetta is a combination of the tulip and swan, created using both shaking and draping gestures. 

Ever wondered why you can't create the same perfect latte art at home? Bruno tells us it's all in the wrist movement and the angle at which the milk is poured into the cup. 

A gentle angle pours in only the hot milk, while tilting the jug more towards the lip lets the light, airy froth flow into the cup. 

These coffees are ultra smooth, rich and full in flavour, and the perfectly aerated milk adds just enough sweetness so that no extra needs to be added. I could happily wake up to a cup of this every day.

Perhaps the most Insta-worthy menu item at Haven is their Hong Kong style waffle. 

Made to order using an authentic dimpled cast iron pan, which is flipped during cooking to create those signature, semi-spherical bubbles and a crispy top, they're every bit as exciting and tasty as Instagram makes them out to be. 

Kimcheese waffle in the making

Awesome Kimcheese ($16.50)
Kimchi, parmesan and ice cream? Eaten in one mouthful, it's a mind-blowing explosion of sweet and spicy, hot and cold. The kimchi isn't placed as a garnish on the waffle, but is thoughtfully mixed into the batter so that it's flavour is imparted into the waffle and melds with the salty parmesan. The vanilla ice cream provides a nice temper to the waffles but don't be fooled, this is more of a savoury dish rather than sweet. 

Hokkaido Red Bean & Matcha ($16.50)
Employing the classic combination of red bean and matcha, this egg waffle is smothered in a thick, sweet red bean paste and topped with a scoop of matcha ice cream. It's served with a beautiful tea pot of creamy matcha sauce, which makes for a fun bout of DIY pouring. The flavours here are much more subtle in comparison to the kimcheese waffle, and it's not as sweet as you'd expect. 

Banana & Nutella ($16.50)
Another classic flavour combination - how can you go wrong with banana and nutella? The banana is cooked in butter to a caramelised, toffee-like softness, with a delicious chocolate ice cream and the crunch of toasted walnuts. Smears of nutella coat the plate, and eaten warm while still crunchy this will make your heart melt with pure joy. 

On the regular menu are more intriguing fusion items like their signature Pork Belly Kimcheese Burger, Sweet Potato Falafel and The Edible Garden, among other café favourites which I'll definitely be making a trip back to try. 

Seeing the pure dedication and focus of the baristas at work has developed a newfound admiration of the art of coffee, and opened up a whole other world of hot drink that I can't wait to explore more of.

I was lucky enough to visit Haven and partake in their coffee appreciation and latte art workshop thanks to Zomato, however all opinions are my own.


Haven Menu, Reviews, Photos,
Location and Info - Zomato 

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  1. I love how you get the little bowl of currants alongside your coffee. The egg waffles are pretty luxe too.

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