Think you know your coffee? Tell us where to find the best coffee in Australia for your chance to win a copy of new book Coffee Trails by Toby Smith. Not only does this java master sport our favourite name, his cool cafés in Sydney and hip espresso bars in Melbourne make our mornings much more bearable. Take a peek at Toby’s caffeine-fuelled travels, from the hills of India to Jamaica’s jewel-bright ranges.
1 What kick-started your love affair with coffee? I was first inspired by the taste of an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, more than 20 years ago. It was quite startling. Once I tasted Yirgacheffe, everything I thought I’d known about coffee was turned on its head. It wasn’t the bitter, slightly nutty, chocolately flavour I’d been used to from my regular flat whites. It was so different: floral, fruity, citrussy. I’d never known coffee could taste like that.
2 Which country is your favourite coffee destination? The last place I visited while researching Coffee Trails was Panama. Every country has its jewels – you just have to find them. In the past, Panama was known for mass production, but these days there’s a demand for high-altitude coffee, sustainably produced, which has led to a varietal awakening.
3 Your book covers the world’s great coffee-growing regions, including Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Brazil and Jamaica. Tell us about unique coffee fixes in these places… In India, make for the Baba Budan hills in Karnataka [Smith tips SwaSwara boutique hotel] and then seek out the coffee ‘monsooning’ (harvested beans are left out in the monsoon winds for a few months, reducing acidity and enhancing sweetness). In Jamaica, head up the hills to Clydesdale Estate for their great coffee (and rum). In Brazil (pictured below left), drink lots of cafezinho (an intense, sweet shot of coffee) and visit Museu do Café in Santos (95 rua XV de Novembro, Santos, São Paulo). If you’re travelling to Indonesia, check out the cool Bandung region of West Java, two hours south of Jakarta. Swing by Morning Glory café in the Setra Sari Mall and ask them to take you on a tour of the coffee hills nearby.
4 How have locals reacted to your new cafés and roasters in Singapore and New York? We now have a Singapore branch on Rodyk Street in Orchard, and a Brooklyn outpost in Williamsburg – in both cities, expats have been pleased to see us, and locals are curious and keen to try us out.
5 What do you always take with you on your travels? Lots of coffee, my coffee-brewing travel kit and not too many clothes.
WIN A COPY OF COFFEE TRAILS
Australian caffeine fiends, fancy winning a copy of Toby’s book? In the Comments section below, tell us in 25 words or fewer what is your favourite café and why. The competition closes 24 February 2012 and entries will be judged on creativity.