Having spent five years owning The Source, Russell Beard is no stranger to the specialty coffee scene and neither is Nathan Borg, who was The Source head roaster.
Reuben Hills is their new adventure, a café and roastery they say is all about “staying true to what you want to do”.
The café is located in the trendy inner- city suburb of Surry Hills, a place already teeming with coffee shops. However, with Russell’s reputation in the coffee scene, there’s no doubting the quality and enthusiasm given to the beans here.
The large space has two entrances allowing natural light to flow from both ends, complimenting the sleek design. Polished concrete floors and exposed timber beams complete the look and help to create a welcoming space for the aggregation of passionate coffee drinkers. A semi-circular cutaway above enables customers to view the roastery and coffee lab, something Russell wanted for the café from the outset.
“It took 14 months from start to finish and we always had in mind the fact that we wanted to involve the customers as much as possible and provide them with the opportunity to see the roasting process,” Russell says.
While two impressive German roasting machines are working away upstairs – a 30-kilogram Probat and six-kilogram Giesen, smaller micro-machines are doing their thing downstairs, such as the dual speedster and Mirage espresso machines. Aeropress filter coffees are available too and public coffee cuppings are held upstairs every friday.
Russell frequently travels to Central and South America to visit the farms during harvest and source the beans directly. Building relationships with the growers is something Russell regards as important. He’s currently sampling beans from Burundi, East Africa and the Mario Enero Jaramillio region in Panama.
One of Reuben Hills stand-outs is a cold filter coffee from Carlos Imbachi’s farm in the Huila, San Agustin region, Columbia, which Russell says is a “wonderful sweet cup, superbly scented with clean fruit notes”.
Coffee aside, Reuben Hills also offers a diverse range of tasty food items. Inspired by Russell’s Latino travels, Head Chef Megan McCulloch (who hails from Heston Blumenthal’s The Hinds Head restaurant in London), has created a menu that is unique and exotic. A popular favourite is the Honduran Baleada – a tortilla stuffed with pimenton spiced pulled-pork or egg, with black beans and cheese. The white chocolate and espresso milkshake and, quite fittingly, a “not-Reuben” sandwich with wagyu salt brisket cannot be overlooked either.
And the name? Russell was inspired by the 1920s coffee era. “The warehouse here is really old and so are the machines,” he says. “Plus, I really just liked the name!”