I fucking love coffee. Although I am the first to admit that I am no expert, my coffee habits have come across as a bit cunty to those who don’t understand it. I buy my beans fresh every four to five days, and fuck me sideways if I buy coffee that was roasted more than a few days earlier. Every morning I weigh and grind my beans and set a timer for my french press, aeropress, or pour over. I full on judge anyone who uses K-Cups, a Mr. Coffee machine, or thinks that Starbucks is high quality. I also always pack a hand grinder, Aeropress, and fresh beans on every trip I take.
So with all that said, it should be no wonder why I love Australia. The land down under is the coffee culture capital of the world. Although you will find excellent coffee throughout the country, Melbourne is definitely where it’s at. I asked a few Melby friends I have met on previous trips to recommend their favorite cafes throughout the city. My friend Sam, whom I met in Hong Kong, sent me a list of ten places, one of which was Proud Mary in the janky-but-quickly-becoming-hipster suburb of Collingwood.
So one afternoon, as Pate and I were returning from a trip down the Great Ocean Road, we stopped for a parmy and a coffee in Collingwood. As we were walking down Smith Street, we popped into a craft beer store (because #duh) and started chatting up the manager. We asked where we should get a dope coffee, and he said, “Yeah, Proud Mary is great. But if you want an experience, go just a block further to Aunty Pegs - the roasting facility for Proud Mary and coffee bar”...
What the fuck is a coffee bar? I live in fucking BROOKLYN and we don’t have a coffee bar. Obviously, we went straight to Aunty Pegs.
We walked in and everyone looked like hipster Jesus. Seriously, it was too Williamsburg for Williamsburg - beanies, flannel, beards and long hair, whatever the fuck those Jesus sandals are that everyone wears, and literally every person in the venue slurping coffee. And while slurping is the correct way to properly taste coffee, it is defo off-putting and can seem a bit pretentious when you first experience a room full of people doing it. Also like, no one was slurping on the DL, you feel me?
Pate and I sat down at the bar (yes, exactly) and were handed a menu (yup, exactly). The lovely Asian Jesus man walked us through all three options: At Aunty Pegs, they don’t fuck with milk drinks. You want a latte or a flat white, go to some basic cafe. Aunty Pegs is a roasting facility and bar where you can either get an espresso drink, or a pour over drink (they also serve cold brew but were out when we got there). I fucking love this place.
Now is the appropriate time to let Americans know that brewed coffee isn’t a thing in classy coffee regions. The rest of the world makes espresso drinks. If you try to order “a cup of coffee” the barista will literally look at you like you have horns coming out of your forehead and say, “what kind?” If you want something similar to a brewed cup o’ joe, order an Americano (which is espresso and hot water, a classier and smoother version of our generic cup of coffee)
So Pate and I both ordered espressos (because their filtered coffees were between $7-10 for real) and they were fucking brilliant. There’s a reason these guys are the best. We happened to be finishing up our espressos at the perfect time as there was a free tutorial on coffee brewing. How could we turn down FREE INFORMATION??!
Oh my god. This shit was an SNL skit. Here we go:
The barista giving me, Pate, and a few very sweet South Koreans a tutorial began by informing us that for a pour over there should be exactly 6.8 grams of coffee per 100 mls of water. When he weighed the coffee on a small scale, he appeared displeased and then walked over to the giant industrial scale, where I watched him take out one bean. Ah. Glad it’s perfect now.
Then he told us the water must be 98* (I made a joke about the boy band at this point but it fell flat as fuck) but that you should boil it to 99* to allow one degree of cooling.
He explained that in a pour over, you do not just put all the water in at once, but rather in three separate timed intervals. The goal for a perfect cup of coffee, he said, is three minutes flat, from the time you begin to pour the water, to the time it finishes dripping. Any less than that? Under-extracted and fucking worthless coffee. Any more than that? Over-extracted and fucking worthless coffee. He drove this point home.
Guess what his time was?
4:19!! I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH DEVASTATION ON ANYONE’S FACE. He sulked and cursed himself, and then said, “Well, I guess I’ll pour you guys some of this so you know what bad coffee tastes like.”
Okay Diva, bad coffee is instant. Bad coffee is shit that was roasted and ground a month ago and then put through a drip coffee machine. Bad coffee is not your slightly over-extracted pour over.
So we all tasted (slurped, because when in Rome amiright) the coffee and Pate and I said, “yeah, but man, it’s still good hey!”
Don’t ever fucking say that to a coffee expert at Aunty Pegs.
“No guys! It’s not. Can’t you taste how dry it is??!”
And then one of the South Korean guys in our group fucking FAKE COUGHED and in the most dramatic I’ve-just-consumed-poison manner, croaked out “So dry, so dry.”
Bitch please, you had taken four fucking slurps from it before and you were fine. Cool your jets, bro.
The barista began another tutorial, hoping to improve his time, but Pete and I decided it was a one and done for us.
To be honest, some moments at Aunty Pegs absolutely gave me the shits. In the same breath, I really appreciate people who are passionate about coffee and treat it as an art. So while there is definitely a hint of pretension, these guys can totally back it up. The people here are experts, eager to share their knowledge, and the coffee is probably the best you will be able to get in the whole world.