Writer, photographer, educator, explorer of places new, with a passion for adding fun back into life.
Published May 29th 2016
Spoil Your Coffee-Loving Friends
This is the place to treat your coffee-loving friends. Suggest a 'Sunday Drive', pile in the car and meander through the fresh air and hills of the McLaren Vale wine region. Trees arch gracefully overhead as you get closer to your destination. Point to the beautiful gums on the right and they are bound to miss the left-side blackboard hint to the surprise destination. Pull into the dirt road that leads to Dawn Patrol.
A short drive along Days Road and you will see an expanse of vineyards on the right and the wild animal signage for Dawn Patrol Coffee Roasters on your left.
'Let's stretch our legs and see what's here,' you might say. Wander through the gate and up the drive. Enter the unassuming shed and pull up a stool.
Dom will greet you an explanation of the flavours of the day as you sample single origin coffees from Columbia, Ethiopia, Brazil or El Salvador.
As you savour the flavours, Dom uses words that swish around your mental tastebuds - chocolate and honey, red apple acidity, honey and caramel sweetness.
Dom also runs SAD:Cafe in Ebenezer Place in the city. Seeking to provide the best local coffee led him to develop his own roast. Listening to Dom speak about his passion is fascinating. He has a wealth of knowledge about how coffee flavour is influenced by the altitude at which the beans are grown, their country of origin, region and variety. He selects high quality beans grown on sustainable farms. Dawn Patrol's website provides all the information a home barista needs to achieve that perfect brew. Beans are available as espresso or filter, depending on whether you wish to make your coffee with an espresso machine, plunger, aeropress, stove top, syphon or pour over. There is a detailed brewing guide on the website to help you draw all the variables - grind, grams of coffee, temperature and millilitres of water, pouring motion and time - together for your choice of brewing apparatus.
I was amazed at the number of different brewing methods on offer at Dawn Patrol and asked why Dom didn't have a favourite method that he always used. Different methods accentuate the flavours in different ways, he explained. He noted that it is important to balance the acidity with sweetness. Pour over works well for tasting due to its accuracy, gentle flavor and clarity.
We firstly tried a Sidamo type Ethiopian pour over coffee, smelling the beans and then the brewed coffee, before tasting the hot liquid. Dom described it as 'old world coffee from an original source. It has an acidic, citrus taste with a black tea finish,' he described. To my surprise, the coffee did change in flavour as it cooled. My non-coffee-connoisseur description was 'orangey, that mellowed out' towards the end of our tasting sample.
This was followed by a fermented Colombian coffee from the region of Antioquia. With a flavour reminiscent of rhubarb, it really wasn't my cup of tea, or coffee. As more people drifted in to taste, we ordered our lattes from Nick. I could not go past the 'chocolate and honey' choice from El Salvador. The weather was fine on our second visit to Dawn Patrol. We took our coffees out to the beautiful timber slab table outside and sat in the sunshine.
Observing that different animals were linked to coffee beans from different countries of origin, I asked about the missing crocodile. 'The saltwater croc's for up North,' Dom replied. One of Dom's dreams is have an Australian coffee on offer. He spoke about the coffee plantations of Mareeba, North Queensland. Here the altitude isn't as high. Coffee is normally grown at 1000 to 2000 metres above sea level, so growers have to stress the trees (with less water) to substitute for altitude. The coffee beans are organic because there are no pests in Australia. Trees produce more caffeine to fend off pests, so Australian coffee is naturally lower in caffeine.
An Australian coffee tree.
Sustainable, traceable, GOOD coffee is roasted here.
Even on a rainy day the atmosphere is warm and the vista of vines calming. There is no instant or fast here. It is a place to take slow breaths.
Wrap your hands around a warm cup of special brew and relax. There is a small selection of food and a choice of natural timber outdoor or cosy armchair indoor seating.
No doubt you will gain some new doggy friends before you leave. You may even spot the woolly lawnmower at work. One thing is for sure. There's every chance you have just found your new Sunday local.
Chill out to the sounds of vinyl from the treasure chest. You may have to share your comfy seat with a four footed friend.