Like many curious passersby, I was drawn to the new Beats and Beans pop-up café. My Berlin-crafted love for electronic music, combined with Melburnian coffee-inclination, was in for a treat. Welcome to a new and fresh concept on the Melbourne café scene: live electronic music indulging coffee-goers alongside top quality coffee.
This photo was contributed by the lovely Karen Robinson, who I met as she was making her coffee order. Karen uses a 1932 Leica with a 50mm F2 Summar lens (1933) & black & white film! She has been photographing cafes and barista in Flinders Lane and other laneways in Melbourne for the past four years, and develops her own film as well
Most Melburnians love the smell of a good coffee in the morning. "Everyone has smell, but our customers are drawn by what they hear"," Alex said, who can also safely say from his research that it is the only coffee shop of its kind in the world. They bring DJs and baristas together, and their product is "coffee with the experience."
It is an outdoor set-up, a shift from the sit-in cafe- which can be isolating for some: pretentious and proper. "We wanna be on the street" Alex tells me. And sure enough, their music, chatty charm and energy compel most people stop and have a look. I asked if it was difficult to get there for a 6.30 start, but the curiosity, enthusiasm and people bobbing to the music keeps them going. Be sure to also catch a glimpse of the images projected behind them. And even once you've left, your rich aromatic take-away just keeps releasing.
So who is behind Beats and Beans? Perched at the entrance space of Liberty Social nightclub, this concept café launched on 27th May and is the love child of two young lads- Alex and Dylan- who I can really only describe as entrepreneurs.
I was baffled at the amount of ideas, plans and initiatives which poured into it. This includes the original concept of training struggling DJs in the art of coffee-making by Dylan. Alex mentions that many young DJs with great potential give up making music due to lack of money, or become lazy or side-tracked. Once trained in the coffee ways, the plan would be to have a flow-through of DJs playing sets and also making the coffee.
But the ideas don't stop there and even as I sat interviewing them they diverted on various tangents brainstorming possibilities and oozing thoughts. So it's so hard to complete this article without introducing readers to the story of how Beats and Beans came to be, and the other exploits of Alex and Dylan- who kindly agreed to an exclusive Weekend Notes interview.
Alex, 24, runs a company named fünf (founded in 2012) with Darius, who is also a mastermind behind the music at Beats and Beans. They tour, and promote events for, underground electronic music, including international DJs, the likes of which include Tiga, Hernan Cattaneo, Moby, Matthew Dear, Hot Chip and Jeff Mills- who will be returning in October. One of their numerous plans is to invite touring DJs to play sets at the café, simultaneously promoting their own performances. Any DJs interested in getting involved with fünf or Beats and Beans contact: email@example.com
Dylan, 21, is soon to launch a specialty Melbourne-style café named Soldier On in early July. It will include beans from 6-8 roasters, all from Melbourne, and alternative brewing methods such as pour-over, aeropress and cold drip. He is well versed in cafe culture, and recently spent some time in Europe "working out in drunk manner" what he liked about different hospitality cultures of different countries. Dylan worked previously for 3 years with Artful Dodger Trading Company- managing cafes, accounts, roasting. Their coffee blend – Penny Box is currently used at Beats and Beans. Dylan plans to bring single origin's and other brewing methods to Beats and Beans down the track.
They met only because Alex had been in contact with Dylan's father through Gumtree for an office space for fünf, which is to be a level above the Soldier On cafe.
The best part is that neither are particularly knowledgeable in, or diehard fans of each others' trade. The pillar of their whirlwind bromance is that they have complete trust in each others' judgement and input. When I first met them I thought they had known each other for years. Turns out to be the rather converse figure of 3 months. Beers one Tuesday night, the best concept "in the world" by Wednesday morning and a name eight days later.
I asked if they considered the risk of such a speedy partnership but they are not worried. They connected on the fact that they are on the same page. "In a sense, we're both business cowboys", Alex reflects. I couldn't omit that quote.
I had a great time chatting to these creative marketing-management-mavericks, MMM if we are to take on Alex's love for acronyms and, incidentally, the sound you'll make when you taste their coffee. So I encourage all readers to spread the word and swing by for some beats and beans. And tell them I say hi.