I first heard about Code Black Coffee shortly after I moved to Melbourne in mid-2018. My friend from out of town was visiting and suggested we catch up at this place with “good food, amazing coffee and cool interiors” near her sister’s place in Brunswick. I still remember that day - the food, the coffee, the interiors (and my friend's company) - nearly 3 years later, and Code Black Coffee became my go-to coffee stop whenever I found myself in Brunswick after that.
When COVID-19 forced us into lockdown in early 2020, my real obsession with Code Black Coffee grew, becoming part of the daily ritual that kept me sane. I was buying 1kg bags of the 3056 or Ex-Wife blend, challenging my housemates on who could make the best coffee (Bialetti vs AeroPress vs cold brew) and who could drink the most (it was me, drinking about 5 cups per day at my peak coffee intake).
As I started to think about partnerships within the Brunswick community, Code Black Coffee were the first I reached out to, not purely because I was low-key obsessed with them, but because they had so many synergies with The Gospel. We are both progressive, forward thinking and connected to the Brunswick community. We have a shared philosophy of being guided solely by the quality and flavour of the liquid we produce. We like them as much as they like us, and I couldn’t be happier to be working alongside them.
As part of our Code Black Coffee Liqueur release, we had the chance to chat with OG coffee fanatic, Head Roaster Allan Yeh, to find out why coffee and the Brunswick community is so important to him. Check the interview below and go see him and the team working in the roastery behind the big glass windows at Code Black Coffee HQ, 5-17 Weston St, Brunswick VIC 3056.
Code Black Coffee Head Roaster Allan Yeh
-- How did you first become obsessed with coffee?
My parents had a small cafe in New Zealand since I was 7, so I grew up literally under a coffee counter. I like to think that it was from watching my mum make espresso from that time, however, I didn’t start making and appreciating coffee until University. I would say a deep fascination for coffee began when I lived in London, UK more than 10 years ago, as the coffee scene at that time was just such a great vibe of old and new.
-- And what is your first memory of it?
My first memory of drinking coffee was when I was probably around 8-9 years old, I found some instant coffee sachets in my kitchen. I liked the way the powder dissolved and turned into a milky froth with the hot water. It tasted quite bitter from what I remember so I added about 8 spoons of sugar to ‘fix it’.
-- What was the journey that took you to becoming a coffee roaster?
I’ve always been fascinated with machinery and the way things work. After working in cafes part time through Uni and during my working holiday in the UK, I was exposed to a vibrant assortment of great coffee experiences which really fuelled my curiosity for coffee and flavour. I wanted to know more about what happens behind the scenes and so stepping into the production side of things was just the next step. My interest in coffee flavour and the mechanics of roasting combined in the best possible way to lead me to doing what I do today.
-- Where in the world has coffee and roasting taken you?
Brazil, Honduras, Colombia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala. Colombia has always been a special place for me in terms of coffee.
-- Where was the most memorable coffee you have had?
In 2017, my colleague Archie competed in the Australian Brewers Cup Championship representing Code Black Coffee. It was a uniquely processed Panamanian Geisha; floral, watermelon, peach, rose. This was a one-of-a-kind, single batch ‘nano-lot’ with only several kilos produced. It blew my mind at the time and I can still remember tasting it.
-- What brought you to work at Code Black Coffee?
I had just arrived in Melbourne from travelling and I’d heard of a beautiful new roastery opening in Brunswick. The cafe manager at the time; Bridie, was very approachable and could tell cared a lot about the venue, which carried a lot of weight for me. I felt comfortable to apply for a job, as a little kindness goes a long way.
-- Does Brunswick have an influence on your work or approach to coffee?
Not so much on our approach to coffee but it does influence our attitude and how we express who we are as a business. Brunswick is a place where you are free to be who you want to be, and we feel that it’s the perfect breeding ground for expressing who we are as a coffee company; unique, vibrant, and rough around the edges.
-- Besides coffee, is there anything else you are equally obsessive about?
Over the past 3 years I’ve really found a passion for indoor rock climbing. It combines exercise, problem solving, and mental perseverance which I find extremely satisfying.
-- What excites you about Brunswick and the community of Brunswick?
It is such a diverse, multicultural area of Melbourne, with all the classic, traditional parts, as well as all the new elements of an expanding cosmopolitan city. That means there are so many different faces, places, and experiences here. It has everything!
-- What is your favourite place to go in Brunswick?
Small Axe Deli on Sydney Road - the owners are such lovely people, and their take home lasagne is delicious.
-- Lastly, what's your favourite hidden gem in Brunswick?
Barkly Hot Bread for your Banh Mi fix.
Code Black Coffee HQ, 5-17 Weston St, Brunswick VIC 3056