Gary Mehigan seems to have brought his culinary prowess into the world of coffee. He has collaborated with his long time favourite, Veneziano Coffee Roasters (R&D Consultant and World Barista Champion, Pete Licata) and launched his specialty coffee range. You'll find the carefully curated blends at Gary Mehigan Specialty Coffee. Be sure to keep in touch and LIKE & FOLLOW all the social media pages as listed at the end of the article, or SUBSCRIBE for updates and SPECIAL offers.
He has MasterCheffed his blends so your everyday homemade coffee can be an occasion to suit the mood you're in. With an essential guide to coffee making at home, he has hit the mark as more Australians are embracing having their own coffee machines at home. It's perfect timing for all coffee lovers as they take comfort in their daily coffee routines, in trying times.
Whether you go for the blend that kicks your butt in the morning to get moving; go fruity with the weekender or stay chilled with your everyday; in typical cheffed up style, you can do more with your coffee than just drink it. We all know if you want your food to have the best taste, use the best ingredients, and you can certainly do that with GM's coffee in desserts. Gary is a massive fan of using coffee in food and even though dessert seems the obvious choice, he's not shy about pairing it with beef eg. coffee glazed short ribs, amongst other recipes.
I was granted the opportunity to interview Gary and Pete and here's what they had to say.
Renown for being a chef and hosting food events, what made you go into the coffee business?
GARY: As a restaurateur of nearly 20 years great coffee has been inextricably linked to my businesses. If you don't do speciality coffee well in Melbourne you are not even on the radar. Both Melbourne and Australia have led the world with its cool coffee culture and put breakfast at the forefront of casual dining.
What makes your speciality coffee the one to buy?
GARY: My collaboration with Veneziano isn't by chance, I have loved and used their coffee since 2003, simply because they are one of the best speciality coffee roasters in the business. Everything from sourcing, roasting, blending and delivery screams quality, commitment and passion.
How did you come up with the types of, and number of blends you would carry?
PETE: In developing blends, it is good to find a preferred range to make the flavour desirable for everyone. So we focused on a fruit forward profile, caramelly sweet profile, and something with a bit more punch and a bitter edge that cuts through milk but still tastes great alone. 3 blends have great coverage of tastes without getting overly complicated.
Do you intend adding more specialty blends to the range in the future?
PETE: We will certainly look to adding seasonal blends or microlots to the range so people can experiment with different taste profiles.
Will you be selling coffee machines on your website down the track?
PETE: We currently sell brewing devices including the Chemex Coffee Maker which is one of our favourite devices for making a clean cup of filter coffee. We wouldn't rule out selling espresso machines on the website in the future. We'd love to create a one stop shop for people to create good coffee at home.
How is Pete Licata involved in your business?
GARY: Pete's expertise and input has been invaluable throughout the development and delivery of these wonderful coffees. We set out to put together three blends of coffee that would provide our coffee lovers with three very different and delicious coffee experiences. The very best beans sourced from all over the world, carefully and meticulously blended to give the drinker different profiles and flavours. Everything from berries, chocolate, honey, notes of apple like acidity and bitterness. Who would have thought.
Will you be setting standards and screen your stockists of the future?
PETE: We will be aligning ourselves with independent stockists that hold the same brand values as us - an appreciation of high quality, specialty goods.
Will your specialty coffee ever consider hitting the supermarkets for the general populous to buy physically?
GARRY & PETE: Our ambition is to reinvigorate people's enjoyment of coffee and making coffee at home. The process, ceremony and enjoyment of coffee however you choose to drink it. Espresso, aeropress, chemex or french press. We know the people are obsessed with coffee and the conversation is changing. Speciality has become more mainstream as we have learnt more about what we love. Where it's from, how it's grown, fair trade and sustainability, different varieties and locally roasted have all become crucial to our enjoyment or our daily cuppa.
GARY: I tend to have a 3 cup limit or I'm climbing the walls! Double shot flat white is my go-to kickstarter for the day followed by a couple of ¾ double shot flat whites or a piccolo or espresso later in the day.
What do you like to pair your coffee occasion with the most? eg. dessert, chocolate, a particular breakfast?
GARY: My first coffee of the day is a 'just' about the coffee, simple and pure enjoyment. If it's really good and hits the spot that might even turn into two…! I also really love an espresso with something intensely sweet that could be in the middle of the day with something like a melomakarona (sweet greek walnut biscuit) or at the end of a meal with a bitter couverture chocolate
What is the one 'coffee' thing you'd caution people never to do?
PETE: I don't know if I can tell people to "never" do something, but good advice is to stick with tried and true methods. If I had to steer clear of something, it would probably be to never drink so called flavoured coffee, which has been coated with an aromatic, oily additive.
Do you have any advice for the people as to which characteristics a coffee machine should have to bring out the best in your blend?
PETE: There are quite a few solid machines out there, and to avoid endorsing a brand out of the blue I would say you should look for temperature stability and consistent output of water. The best machines always cost a bit more, but can be worth it if you invest the time learning to use them right. Otherwise, an often overlooked aspect of coffee is getting a high quality grinder, which will make espresso remarkably better.
Thank you so much for your time and look forward to seeing you in Plate of Origin, Gary.
There you'll find his coffee chat with Craig Dickson, CEO of Nomad Coffee Group and Managing Director of Veneziano Coffee. Craig's sense of humour is apparent in the first couple of minutes, with his unexpected answer about why we love coffee.
Enjoy, and most of all, expand your senses and try out the new specialty coffee on the market.