Located just up the road from the workaday hustle and bustle of North Sydney’s CBD, Humm Coffee Roasters are taking control of their coffee, and inviting you to do so as well. Set back from the constant burr of the Pacific Highway, entering into the high ceilinged location the open bar at hip height lets you see straight into the core of the operation, and allows baristas, chefs and wait-staff to stay in touch with those who drop by.
While most counter-top space at cafes is taken up by large espresso machines which obscure customer’s vision of the magic happening in the barista’s hands, owner Jin Lyu has decided to place the machinery underneath the counter in the hope of opening up a conversation.
“We want to share how to make coffee with the customer,” described Lyu,”which is why we chose the Modbar.”
Seen in a few cafes across Sydney, the Modbar places the boilers and piping of an espresso machine underneath the counter, with only the group heads rising above the bench. Still drawing on the elegant and sleek aesthetics that we have come to know in coffee machines, the Modbar removes the bulk of the contraption.
Building their philosophy into the design of the café, Lyu and barista Chris Chung are hoping that Humm can be a place where harried office workers and busy locals can take a break and learn more about the beans that Humm roasts themselves.
“Baristas are busy and they're always like, ‘Here's your coffee, time to go.’ We're learning about the coffee all the time, and I want to just share all the parts of the process of [making] the coffee.”
Bucking the trend of lighter, fruitier roasts, Lyu settled upon a darker roast for the house blend, which contains the rich, chocolately notes that suit a milk-based beverage, and as he himself highlighted “I want to feel the coffee flavour.” Being on the darker side of roasting also allowed Lyu’s customers to have greater confidence when brewing with Humm beans at home, as the recipes are less finicky about extraction times and ratios.
“People always ask me, ‘Where does this coffee come from, how do you extract the coffee?’ We give them recipes. We used to hide it but these days you have to open up for the home barista who has a coffee machine [at home], because they want to make their coffee same as a commercial cup.”
Lyu and the Humm team have taken control of not only the brewing and serving process, but are involved at each stage of the process from bean to cup. Roasting through Collective Roasting Solutions and sourcing their own green beans allows for Humm to have a unique flavour profile and offering, despite being a relatively small operation. After having spent some years behind the machine himself, when taking the leap into opening Humm, Lyu wanted to be fully immersed in the coffee he was serving.
“When I was making coffee three or four years ago I wanted to learn a little bit more about coffee and I wanted to go further. I was like, ‘How about I go to the roastery and I just control ever single step.’ [From] importing the green bean and roasting and extracting from the coffee machine.”
Being involved at each stage of the coffee he is serving allowes Lyu to speak with confidence to his customers, and know that what he’s serving to them is coming about through their relationship, unlike many of the other cafes in his area.
“[In] the North Sydney CBD area there's so many cafes which you come in and ‘What's your coffee?’ ‘Flat white.’ Then there's no waiting, one to two minutes, and there's no relationship between the customer and the barista or chef or waiters. So we just want to share it.”
After all, reminded Lyu, “what is hospitality, it is [being] hospitable, which is making coffee and cooking and serving and the food.”
With this in mind, make sure to take the time to share and enjoy the flavours Humm is serving.
Humm Coffee Roasters
Shop 2B/211 - 223 Pacific Hwy, North Sydney
Mon – Fri, 7am – 4pm
Sat, 7am – 3pm
Sun, 8am – 3pm