Perth is welcoming a new coffee shop to its shores – and it’s got some star power behind it.
Sprolo Owners Gabriel Tan and Darren Woon, along with Barista Rie Moustakas – 2014 Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) Australian Latte Art Champion and 2014 fourth place World Latte Art Champion – make up the star-studded team.
“Sprolo can best be described as a coffee nerd’s fantasy,” says Gabriel. “We’ve taken our love of coffee, experimentation, music, and barista talent and established our dream café.”
Gabriel is no stranger to the competition scene either. A licensed Q grader, he placed third in the 2011 ASCA Barista Championship and second in the 2012 ASCA Western Australia competition.
“Competition was a great experience but now I know what I want to focus on, and that’s roasting,” says Gabriel. “I still enjoy getting behind the coffee machine because I like the fact I can interact with my customers, but roasting is my time to ‘geek out’.”
Darren, an engineer by trade, and Gabriel, a long-time barista, have been friends for years. Gabriel says the timing was simply right to combine their love of food and coffee. “We had an initial discussion, and three months later the result was Sprolo,” Gabriel says.
The coffee bar opened in September 2014 and the team have pledged their dedication to not only serving great tasting coffee, but roasting as well.
“We wanted complete control of our business, from sourcing the green beans, to blending, roasting, brewing, customer service, and managing our own accounts,” says Gabriel. “To manage all this we set up Blacklist Coffee Roasters on the same site and roast on a 10-kilogram Turkish Has Garanti roaster.”
Customers can watch the roasting process unfold with the machine set up in the same space as the café, in addition to hessian bags and beans scattered around the place for added authenticity.
The design of the café is an ode to Darren and Gabriel’s love of music. Guitars are placed on the walls and beats blare through electric guitar speakers to create the perfect ambiance. “I used to be a professional musician in Singapore, so I thought ‘why not make it a feature of the café?’” says Gabriel.
Barista Rie uses a custom-painted La Marzocco Linea PB three-group to serve Blacklist Coffee Roaster’s signature blends. These include Étude (a French word meaning difficult musical piece), which is designed to cut through milk with chocolaty notes; and Forte, a more bold, earthy coffee with spice notes. A selection of single origin coffees are also available.
“We’ve had some standout single origins, including an Ethiopian Sidamo Chire. It’s a very natural, very clean, fruity, and super sweet coffee. A washed Ethiopian Yiracheffe Konga is also a great complex coffee that continues to blow me away,” says Gabriel.
What’s more, Gabriel and Darren have fun experimenting with their Mahlkonig EK43 grinder (which he waited three months for) and offer pour over, aeropress, clever coffee dripper, and chemex brewing methods.
Gabriel and Darren’s attention to detail extends to a custom-made concrete bench top weighing 1.4 tonnes, and a five-metre long communal table which doubles as a cupping table (made to Specialty Coffee Association of America standards) for regular cupping events.
To accompany the coffee a range of food items are available, including gourmet toasted sandwiches and bagels. The pièce de résistance is Sprolo’s traditional Singaporean breakfast, made with house-made Kaya (caramelised coconut jam) and sous vide eggs.
“We’re already getting a loyal following from customers. The local major came in for her coffee the other day too,” says Gabriel. “I love the vibe of the place.We want to make sure we go above and beyond for our customers. It’s my hope that one day people will come from far and wide to visit Sprolo.”