These days you can’t open a cafe and just expect customers to walk in the door. There are now so many that people are spoilt for choice and often rely on their social media feed to determine the place for their next hit. The problem is that everyone tries to outdo each other with great service, interesting menu items etc. and as soon as one cafe does something new and different, it becomes a trend and everything on your Instagram feed starts looking the same. So in December 2015 Lisa and Paul Baggio opened The Craft & Co. in Smith Street Collingwood. Offering Melburnians a very unique space that you would usually expect to find outside the metro area, where they make most of what they serve including their own cheeses, sausages, bread and pastries. It houses a distillery, a micro-brewery and most importantly; a coffee roastery, all run by some of the most experienced people in their respective fields. You can eat and drink here and with renowned chef Daniel Southern in charge the food offering is damn good too.
James Kilby started roasting back in 2008 for Padre at The Brunswick East Project on a journey to understand the product he loved working with so much. What sets him apart from many roasters is that he encourages people to enjoy coffee the way they like it, not the way he tells them to drink it. By creating an espresso blend that is clean and approachable, built around South and Central American coffees, it can be anything anyone wants it to be. They can add milk, they can add sugar, according to James it’s all good as long as they walk away happy. The current Seasonal Blend is made up of 60% Nicaragua Selva Negra and 40% Guatemala Renacimiento which provides a medium to full bodied brew that’s sweet and floral with choc-malt notes and a touch of stone fruit acidity.
This is only the beginning though because the coffee is part of a much bigger picture. The Craft & Co. is all about collaborating and bringing makers together under one roof to create amazing things, and James has worked together with the head brewer and master distiller to create two new coffee centric products. One is the Mocha E.S.B using the roasted coffee beans which are brewed in their brewery kettles and then distilled, before being added to the finished beer, giving it a distinct roast coffee profile. The second is a liqueur being released this month using the same method of extracting the coffee and will surely prove to be a big hit in this Espresso Martini obsessed city.
The Craft & Co. is that the concept harks back to a time when people couldn’t afford to buy everything and made the most of what they consumed using fresh, local and seasonal produce. It is how post-war European immigrants turned nothing into something and influenced the way Australians now eat and drink. It’s about sharing knowledge and experience, from cheese or sausage making classes to learning how beer is brewed. They even have a farm in Bangholme, open Thursday to Sunday set on a 40 acre vineyard where they also produce their own amazing wines.
It might begin with an espresso and end with you sipping on some coffee liqueur but there will always be so much more in between.
The Craft & Co. – 390 Smith St, Collingwood The Craft & Co. Farm – 170 Riverend Rd, Bangholme