The café culture in Bali is blowing up right now, and with the opening of a new brew bar in Seminyak coming soon, we caught up with coffee master Shae Macnamara to divulge deep on his love for coffee, his thoughts on Balinese coffee, and how to make the perfect V60 coffee.
If you are one of those people that can’t start their day without a coffee boost, welcome to the club! Lucky for us, Bali is a place where good-flavoured coffee does exist and soon enough there will be a brew bar opening in Seminyak, next to the popular Sisterfields, that is sure to have coffee fans queuing up for their daily fix. Why? Co-founder of the coffee shop, Shae Macnamara, knows his stuff! We caught up with him to chat coffee beans, winning awards for his coffee and ‘Woodfire Flip’s’…
Hi Shae. Where did your love for coffee first start?
From about the age of 14 I would find myself attracted to cafes because of the social atmosphere and the smell of coffee brewing, but oddly enough I didn’t like the taste. I quickly made the decision that I wanted to drink it so I spent time training myself how to like the flavour profiles of different coffees. I started with drinking Mochas [a mixture of coffee and chocolate] before moving to cappuccinos, flat whites, piccolos, macchiatos then building the courage to try black coffee.
Sounds similar to us! You have travelled the world learning about the art of coffee. Where has been the most inspirational and educational place you have visited and why?
I love spending time at origin and seeing what happens at a farm level; looking at experimental coffee processing methods and getting an understanding of how the actions of the farmer affect the final product. But as for cafe scene, I think overall Australia has a very impressive scene, a strong barista culture and the industry itself collaborate really well together.
You have won a number of awards over the years, including the 2016 Australian Coffee in Good Spirits (CIGS) Champion. What do you have to achieve to receive this title?
I decided about three months before CIGS competition that I would give it a go and enter because in the past I’ve judged so many competitions that I thought it was time I entered one for once! From that moment, I dedicated just about every waking and working hour studying the competition guidelines, past winners and, most importantly, working on my routine to make sure I gave it my best shot.
A lot of the credit needs to go to the team who helped me to win the Australian competition, which then took me to represent Australia in the world champions in China. I worked closely with Archie Giotopoulos [from Grinders Coffee] who worked hard to roast the coffee I was using to create the best roast profiles for different brewing method. I also had an alcohol coach called Michael Nouri who is an expert in cocktails, and I was lucky enough to have accredited world barista technical judge, Michaela Gerard [Grinders Coffee], travel with me to China as my coffee/technical coach, to make sure I was brewing the perfect coffee every time! Not only that, but I had a great team of coffee experts who would volunteer their time to help refine the flavour profiles of all the drinks I had to make throughout the competition. The whole experience was a highlight both professionally and personally and I was definitely pushed outside of my comfort zone.
What is your signature drink?
For the CIGS competition my signature drink was a ‘Woodfire Flip’. I used a Costa Rican honey processed coffee mixed with whiskey, agave nectar, salt and raw egg. It was shaken together, topped with a Grand Marnier spritz and then put in customised smoking chambers that I made to create a smoky aroma.
Wow, sounds delicious! Bali has a huge café society and coffee culture; why do you think this is?
Through tourism, Bali has built a great culture and I believe the cafe scene in Indonesia is growing like crazy. Everyone, from western tourists or tourists from Jakarta and other parts of Indonesia, are all looking for a great cup of coffee. And there are roasters on the island who are doing a great job with a growing number of professional baristas who are creating a great culture.
You are adding to the Bali café society with your new venture, Expat. Roasters… Tell us about the concept.
Expat. Roasters is a specialty coffee producer and soon to be opened brew bar located next door to Sisterfields. It started as a passion project for 2 expat Aussie lads [myself and Adam McAsey] and is driven by a desire to produce an exceptional, unpretentious brew, from the ground up. As residents of the island, we work closely and respectfully with local Balinese farmers and producers to source the finest local product to compliment their nomadic collection of beans from around the globe.
There are so many coffee shops in Bali, how do you plan on standing your coffee haunt out from the crowd?
Firstly, consistently good coffee every time. It sounds simple but this is truly one of the things that makes one café differ from another. I’m also spending a lot of time educating our team of baristas so they can deliver a great experience to the customer. We have a big focus on educating the consumer and we encourage everyone to ask questions in order to find out where we are buying our coffee from and understand what flavour you should be tasting. We want everyone to feel comfortable to ask questions and be on the coffee journey from the crop to the cup with us.
What do you think about Balinese coffee?
‘Bali coffee’ [the way it is made through grinding coffee and pouring water over it in a cup] isn’t my preferred way of drinking coffee, but there is some beautiful coffee being grown on the island. The Kintamani region is the main place with coffee farms, and here the roasters are all doing a good job.
And finally, what are your tips on brewing the perfect cup of coffee?
Always start with fresh coffee for any brewing method. Whether it is a French press, a stove top at home or an espresso bar in the heart of Seminyak, remember fresh is best!
The preferred method for filter coffee used at Expat. Roasters will be using the V60. Now, the tech side is a little lost on us when it comes to making the best brew [we focus more on the drinking] but for those coffee connoisseurs out there that know the lingo here is Shae’s detailed best coffee making advice using the V60:
- Start with a light roasted [preferably single origin] coffee
- Grind your coffee coarser than espresso but not as coarse as French press
- Use approximately 6.5g of coffee for every 100g of water
- Don’t use boiling water! Let it cool down after boiling for a minute or so. If you can control the temperature aim for 92 to 96 degrees Celsius for most coffees.
- Always wash your filter, the V60 and the vessel you are brewing into with hot water (making sure everything is hot before you start brewing)
- To start with pour 30-50g of water in and let it bloom for 1 minute, then add the rest of your water [approx. 50g]. Always pour in a circular motion
- Once all your water has been added, wait until there is no more water coming through the bottom of the filter, then remove the V60 and enjoy!
So welcome to the island Shae – we can’t wait for the new haunt Expat. Roasters to open and to try your coffee creations. Honey’s, be sure to add it to your Bali brew list, doors are due to open soon so watch this space!