Here in Australia, the word ‘piccolo’ or Italian for ‘small’ has become part of our coffee vernacular and a popular little drink, but overseas, it just doesn’t exist. You will however come across something similar called the ‘cortado’ prepared with equal parts coffee and milk. Derived from the Spanish word for ‘cut’, the theory is that you dilute or cut the coffee with densely textured milk to reduce the acidity without losing the flavour. It’s pretty much what I drink, with more milk than a macchiato, but less milk than a piccolo.
Wanting to celebrate this little known beverage, Alex Samoun and Brett Ellis started Cortado Coffee Roasters in Thornbury exactly two years ago after meeting at a previous job working at a coffee company. They both shared similar journeys, beginning as baristas before moving into sales, but it was when they both left their respective roles and Alex went travelling through Spain that he came across the cortado. He returned home, reconnected with Brett and they decided to form a roasting company with the logo of a bull made from shards of broken mosaic, inspired by Antonio Gaudí and Alex’s visit to La Sagrada Família in Barcelona. The aim was to give Melburnians well roasted specialty coffee that has substance, without being over engineered so that it’s accessible to baristas and drinkers alike.
Also wanting to make a difference and create a business together were brother and sister Jimi and Sue Tsinis, when they opened their cafe The Valley Foodstore in Malvern East at the beginning of December 2016. Both with backgrounds in hospitality, they wanted people to feel at home, experience a sense of warmth and generosity and leave wanting to come back. This is very much a family operation, with their mum Vicki cooking in the kitchen preparing home made Greek treats like spanakopita and baklava, and their dad Evangelos helping with food preparation and grocery shopping. Jimi and Sue decided Cortado, not only because of the shared belief of wanting to provide service and a quality product at a reasonable price, but also their level of support and desire to go the extra mile.
The custom blend they use is a hybrid of Flamenco and The 35, containing five beans from three origins – Brazil, Colombia and India. Brett and Alex matched it with the milk being used and also to The Valley’s La Marzocco FB70 so Sue and Jimi could run one grinder with their own house blend, perfect for both black and white coffee. The result is a smooth, rich brew that’s just so easy and enjoyable to drink and the siblings are very proud to serve it.
In a world where everyone loves delegating duties to others, it’s nice to see two guys roasting, packing and delivering coffee to their cafes, jumping behind the machines to lend a hand when busy and generally making sure all is running as it should. If you haven’t come across the brand, here are a few cafes where you can experience their brews and find out how Cortado is all about cutting the crap but filling your cup with a whole lot of bull!
Where you can try: The Valley Foodstore – 75 Chadstone Rd, Malvern East Fed Up Project – 210 Clarendon St, South Melbourne Smug Relish – 510 Lygon St, Brunswick East Melbourne Vintage Audio & Espresso Station – 39 Station St, Malvern Coffee Rush – 201 Spencer St, Docklands CBD Salte Cafe – 9 Alpine St, Ferntree Gully