An urban coffee jungle in the middle of bustling Queensbridge Square?
Sure, why not? Meet the Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar.
Created as the centrepiece of the 2013 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival the brief given to international multi-disciplinary design house Hassell was to educate the public about where coffee comes from. Most coffee is grown within 20 degrees of the equator and needs sun and altitude to thrive resulting in many farms relying on a terraced structure for planting. Hassell thought it would be nice to have a jungle but, let’s face it, we are in Melbourne not the tropics (although it may have felt a bit like it this summer!) so instead they chose to broadly represent these exotic places and evoke the idea of where the coffee comes from.
Using the existing the red steps at Queensbridge Square as the base, over 1200 timber pallets have been laid over shipping containers to replicate the terraced strata levels found in the farms dotting the landscape of Guatemala. The pallets and shipping containers reflect the story of the journey of the beans from farm to us: coffee is one of the most highly traded commodities and travels thousands of kilometres before ending up in our morning latte.
As you move up the mountains of Guatemala, distinct microclimates are evident in the terrain. At the Urban Coffee Farm, clever groupings of trees (including coffee trees of course!) running vertically up the pallets represent the changing altitude. A truly clever design. I have heard a few people say they don’t get it, that it’s just levels of plants, open spaces and sunshine. For me that means that they nailed the brief – that’s what coffee farms are.
It is what happens inside this amazing installation that for me really represents Melbourne the way in which we have come to be known around the world – a city of excellent coffee and cocktails. By day a rotating schedule of some of our best barista’s can be found behind all manner of coffee making machines to provide your caffeine fix. Expand your knowledge by sampling a coffee tasting flight; PROCESS presents one varietal produced through three different processes, VARIETY showcases three varietals from the same region, and REGION compares one the same varietal from three different regions. Each uses Guatemalan coffee and comes with tasting notes. To really unleash your inner coffee geek also on offer are a series of daily workshops, hosted by various cafés and roasters.
As the work day winds up it’s time to shift focus and indulge in the creative coffee focused cocktails from some of our best bars. I’m yet to try these but reports suggest I should. So I shall. The challenge will be choosing when to go.
There are some very tasty morsels available from Mill and Bakery if you feel like a bite to eat with your caffeine hit.
I was a guest of Melbourne Food and Wine at a special brunch and workshop but have returned again independently – the daily changing roster of beans, baristas and bartenders means there is always something new to try. The Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar is open daily throughout the 2013 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Have a little look here for details on the daily rosters and happenings.