Dan Kim has worked in cafes all his life but it wasn’t until four years ago that he was able to comit wholeheartedly to a single thing; coffee. Having previous co-owned Heritage Coffee Brewers in Summer Hill, it was the birth of his daughter Ava that led to Kim to exclusively focus on coffee in his next outing, Primary Coffee Roasters.
“After I had a baby,” recalled Kim, “I just wanted to serve the coffee that I'm proud of for my daughter, buy the coffee that's in season, make sure that I know where the coffee is from, the farmer, the milk, all the products.”
This obsessive dedication to coffee can be seen throughout the purist, minimal space behind the Cross on Ward Avenue. The La Marzocco espresso machine occupies pride of place behind a pale wood bar, with stools around the front and a few tables in the split, lower level space below. Again, however, this set up came partly from personal necessity.
“I didn't need a tiler or any other builders,” described Kim. “Just two carpenters, a friend of mine is an electrician, a friend is a plumber, and they helped me and I had to do all the painting and that's pretty much it.”
“The first six months was tough, because not doing food, just coffee, a lot of people walked away.”
Upon opening, the reception was warm from Potts Point locals, however some were skeptical of a café that doesn’t serve food beyond a few pastries.
Since then, Kim has been able to prove that quality coffee, which he roasts himself, has more than enough to recommend it. Ensuring that the freshness of the beans is contained within the cup, Kim keeps the roast light for smooth cups of filter coffee and bright, sparkly espressos. Betting on the draw of a good coffee, Kim banked on the practice of coffee-lovers in Sydney who’ll go out of their way for a good cup.
“Where I live there five or six cafes but they're all crap so I never go there so I drive ten minutes to get a good cup of coffee and that's what a lot of people do in this country.”
For Kim, this is a culmination of his own journey in coffee. Having started out helping his parents in their coffee shop once he finished school, Kim has come to develop a great passion for the depth of subtleties of coffee.
I used to work for my parents, just making coffee right after the HSC and back then I didn't have any passion. Making coffee was just my parent's order, ‘Make coffee! This is our business, do it!’ So that's how I started and then we had that for five years and it made me [realise] this is what I want, so I wanted to learn more.”
Working in a few cafes that had roasters attached, Kim learnt how to not only brew coffee, but roast it as well. Now, Kim roasts one blend, three seasonal single origins and an organic single origin for Primary and wholesale customers. In store, Kim measurers the growing success of Primary by how many cookies his wife is baking per week.
“It started as maybe 10 or twenty cookies, now she's baking 150 cookies a week. We had less than twenty croissants a day and now we get 70 pastries on a Saturday, 70 on Sunday, during the week we've got 50.”
Keeping things simple has meant that this growth is manageable, and Kim can keep his promise to Ava.
“It's growing, but still I don't have to worry about food and [I] just focus on the coffee. It works.”
Primary Coffee Roasters
Tues – Fri, 6am – 3pm
Sat – Sun, 7am - 2pm
1/9 Ward Ave