They say siblings are meant to be alike, but Ecru in Hobart, Tasmania is nothing like its sister café, Villino espresso.
In a deliberate move to establish a café with a different personality, style and target audience, the newly opened Ecru has a Scandinavian flair with natural timbers and high ceiling, while its older sister, the five-year-old Villino, has a strong Italian finesse with dark timber furnishings.
“They’re like chalk and cheese,” says Proprietor Richard Scharamm. “We’re breaking away from the traditional mold and have created something fresh.”
Ecru is only “20 Richard steps” down the street from Villino, where morning cyclists, mothers and prams, and business office workers can enjoy specialty coffee on the go.
“We wanted to make our coffee accessible and make Ecru predominately take-away focused for the morning rush to ease the volume pressure at Villino and attract a new audience,” says Richard.
Branching out to a neighbouring space, Richard says Ecru is a breath of fresh air for the bustling inner city Criterion st, which has become quite the attraction for fashionistas, hipsters and business folk alike.
“Ecru is a fairly unique concept for Hobart,” Richard says. “Our coffee focus is on quality, we don’t cut corners and our reputation is completely about coffee.”
The café serves strictly coffee and no food, and roasts its own coffee on Probat roasters at an off-site location under the Villino brand. Richard says they’ve focused on sourcing high-grade beans from South America, Central America and Africa. The house blend is called Synergy, a full-bodied coffee with chocolate and sweet caramel notes. Richard says this is great in milk-based coffees but also adapts well in black coffee where drinkers will experience delicate acidity and floral notes.
Ecru offers seasonal single origins, using a La Marzocco GB/5, two Mazzer grinders and a cold drip brewing method.
“We’re all about the attention to coffee and building a culture of high quality every time,” Richard says. “There’s definitely a growing interest in the specialty coffee industry in Hobart – it didn’t take long to get the community on board, and now we’re spreading coffee goodness. a lot of baristas are educating people about single origins and customers are becoming more interested in exploring different flavours and not treating coffee as a generic thing.”
Customers can watch 2012 2nd place Tasmanian Barista Champion, national semi-finalist and Head Barista, Caleb Wilson, pour an award-winning latte. Guests can also watch 3rd place Tasmanian Barista winner and Ecru barista, Andy Nairn make an espresso.
After two and a half years roasting Villino coffee, Richard says the business continues to expand his passion for coffee with their wholesale beans and constant standard of consistency, to ensure Villino remains ahead of the pack.
“The selfish reason why I enjoy this industry is because of the opportunity to taste, explore and enjoy so many different coffees,” Richard says. “People have coffee to get through the day, but for me, coffee is my entire day.”