It's hard to think of a more timely or compelling calling card for a fledgling coffee business than to be anointed roaster-in-chief at Sydney's pop-up version of Noma. Add a glowing endorsement from Noma sommelier Mads Kleppe - "Tim Varney is roasting and sourcing all our coffee. It's going to piss a lot of people off when I say it (and I haven't told Tim yet, but I'm sure he knows), but we're going to make the best coffee in Sydney" - and you could say that Bureaux Collective has arrived, even before it's officially opened.
The appointment hasn't exactly come out of the blue. Tim Varney (who makes up one half of Bureaux Collective with Tim Williams) established the "coffee program" at Noma's Copenhagen mothership a couple of years ago, and both Tims have gained a high profile in the coffee-obsessive communities of the UK, Norway and the USA over the past decade, particularly in the spheres of roasting and sourcing. Now they've both returned to Australia and plan to put coffee-roasting resources and skills in the hands of locals.
"Coffee-roasting equipment is expensive and not everybody has half-a-million dollars, and all the time it takes to negotiate landlords and red tape," says Williams. "What we're doing here is providing access to equipment and skills so that café owners and other people in the coffee community can get access to a state-of-the-art roaster [a Probat, from Germany], and to Tim's [Varney] skills as a roaster. People will be able to roast their own house blend."
The roaster will be located at BC HQ, a small warehouse in the Melbourne suburb of Cremorne, but the business isn't just about the roasting. It'll also be "an incubator and community space" where there's a flow of information (sourcing green coffee, for example) and, one weekend a month, a coffee "farmers' market" for those who "grow, roast and consume quality coffee that's ethically sourced and treated with care".
Bureaux Collective will be open for roasting at the start of May with Melbourne cafés Assembly, Patricia Coffee Brewers and Everyday Coffee already signed up. Noma might soon have some stiff competition for Best in Town status.
Bureaux Collective will open in Cremorne, Vic in May.