Coffee: Small Batch
Mon – Fri: 7am – 4pm
Sat: 8am – 2pm
“Creativity, novel and out of the box ideas. They are frightening and exciting at the same time. The reason new concepts are considered scary is that no other has taken such route. Opening a cafe has a sense of familiarity, as many have taken the path by using a generic blueprint. What type of environment is going to be achieved when a cafe shifts its focus from espresso to filter? Is it time we all broke away from our strong and bold espresso and dive into the finer tastes of coffee? Filter by Small Batch is the newest venue to wave the filter flag in a location where espresso is in high demand – the CBD.
Filter is the latest project from the team – lead by Andrew Kelly – that created the much adored Auction Rooms and Counter. The launch of this café was a unique collaboration with Broadsheet and Bank of Melbourne in an initiative called ‘The Keys’. It provided an inside look into the many aspects of building a café. We got to see Andrew Kelly’s thoughts and execution – from inception to launch – with the assistance and input of some of Melbourne’s brightest restaurateurs and design-based minds.
Filter is predominately focused on a coffee experience. On offer are the choices of two pre-made filter blends [$3] and three brew-on-demand single origin blends [$6]. There is still the option for an espresso but as the name suggests, Filter is all about filtered coffee.
Quickly ordering an on-demand Ethiopian single origin filter blend [$6] for my morning hit, the presentation of the filtered coffee had its own aesthetic. Attached to the pouring flask was a fabric sleeved that was matched with the coaster – drinking in style!
The filter coffee was in a league of its own. The aroma had a subtle sweetness to it. The taste wasn’t as complex when compared to Miss SL’s brew; however I picked up on a mix of stone based fruits with hints of berry. It was a delight that certainly perked me up.
Complementing the filter coffee was an open and artisan like sandwich called the Jesper – Omelette, smoked eggplant spread, pickled mushrooms [$9.50]. Whilst being small in nature, the rye bread was unusually filling and complemented with a subtle and soft nutty flavour. The strips of folded egg were still moist and soft, without tasting like a boiled egg. The mushrooms were a strong performer – soaked in vinaigrette – it provided the punch needed, complementing the egg and spread. It’s not going to be for everyone, but for a before-work-breakfast it had all of the right ingredients to be sustaining.
Opting in the last minute to share an almond croissant, I was taken back to the days of Movida Terraza. This croissant was arguably the best I’ve had in a while, being crispy and baked to perfection with a sugary inner that was delectable.
What Filter has achieved is the perfect decor and environment to invite change in our coffee habits. A few important people over the years have championed change on a large scale; Filter only wants to invite you to change your espresso to a filter. It’s certainly an experience worth having.”
The concept is simple, clear and makes no misconceptions as to what this new venue from Auction Rooms and Small Batch is all about. The venue itself reflects simplicity and is clean, with limited seating to ensure maximum comfort. There is a display of pre-made dining options for you to see-before-you-eat so you know exactly what you’re up for.
The staff here are very knowledgeable about the coffees on order, with some of them coming across from sister-cafe Auction Rooms, and others coming across from the Small Batch wholesale business. They expertly walked us through the coffees on offer for the day and cracked jokes with us throughout the meal, making us feel at ease.
There were two pre-made filters ready to go on the third day of trading when Mr LB and I arrived for breakfast – a fruity Ethiopian and a nutty Colombian, with made-to-order options – two of which were variations on the pre-made blends and third being a blend from Rwanda, which is what I decided to try. When they say “made to order”, don’t be fooled into thinking that it will take a long time to obtain – within five minutes my coffee was done, maintaining its heat in a flask with a little wool jacket that matched the coasters.
The Rwanda filter had a complex flavour that seemed to have a gentle floral-fruit combination. What is interesting about filter coffees is how the flavour profile changes with temperature, becoming stronger as it cools down in the cup.
For breakfast I decided on the Wilma, coffee glazed bacon, tarragon butter, folded egg [$9.50]. There was no wait on breakfast here as it was all ready go in the counter – something I haven’t experienced before!
Quite small in size, I was dubious that this dish would fill me. In my first bite the tarragon butter made my still-sleepy eyes pop open – it was incredible! Sweet with a pinch of salt it was immediately obvious that this was the star of the dish. The folded egg was thick and dense like a pate and the coffee-glazed bacon was cut thick, cooked crispy and was almost slightly bitter from the glazing. The overall flavour, with all ingredients combined, was sweet with perfect balance. I was surprised at how filling this dish was despite being so small.
Despite being full, I felt that perhaps some brunch-dessert was required, and Mr LB & I decided to order something to share. We were tossing up between the eclair and the salted caramel doughnut, however, the waiter threw a curve ball and suggested we have an almond croissant. Tivoli Road Bakery provides the pastries here (ex Movida), and boy was the almond croissant good! Orange blossom flavours came immediately to the surface of this beautifully flaky croissant – easily the best one I’ve had in a long time!
Overall I really loved Filter. Quick, easy, simple and delicious. What more could you want?”
Final thought: “A must try venue, with quick turnaround on great food and coffee”