Enlightening from between the Market street rif-raf of mechanical assemblies and catholic edu, wok-tossing and suit ‘n’ tie archetypes lies a white washed container throw together called Sifters.
A characterful concrete driveway leads punters down towards a tri-surround of corrugated glory which bays a quasi-kitsch cluster of school chairs, wooden wheels, milk crates and et cetera; and it is all white everything. Handsome wooden planter boxes sit on the outskirts pushing young vines up the wire criss-cross of the fence, a slow slither that will only build the café’s charm.
The Sifters space is a brainchild of siblings Ane & Neils Glahm-Blurtelstein and friend Alex Hooke, a relationship that sees them providores of container, carpark and haus in this collective venture.
Steps forward, back and to the side mean the original plans for Sifter’s take on a more dynamic approach to its business model, moving from bar, stool and booze towards lattes and donut-croissant hybrids.
Staying within this nouveau fashion, Sifter’s is now poised to populate the old house out front with a collaborative co-operative of lifestyle supplies.
Mel Cox is the meticulous barista behind the espresso endeavour that has breathed life into the unpigmented container car park. The Sifters’ Espresso is arguably amongst the best of this brew type served in the Illawarra, a place with an enormously developed coffee culture for its size.
Mel cites a dedication and understanding of every aspect of the coffee process as the key behind making the perfect joe – “from the coffee farm, to the roasters, to the barista and the machine. What people might not realise is just how fragile the coffee process is—and that when so much can go wrong, it’s practically a miracle that anyone can get a good cup.”
People now needn’t walk further than 500m to retrieve their daily roast from an expert barista, but what is it that makes a killer cup so darned enthralling for all might be just that.
As Mel believes, “specialty coffee exists as an industry because people want something real. It’s a daily luxury for people, and a direct reaction to generic, mass-produced culture. Customers don’t spend money at a good cafe because it’s cheap or convenient, they do it because they get to experience something that someone has cared about. Years of passion and the knowledge of a global industry are distilled into one convenient lil’ cup, and I think people are really starting to appreciate that.”
Brewing with grinds of Single Origin Roasters, one of Australia’s leading coffee roasters has also given Mel countless opportunities to further her craft by spending time with them and learning about every intricate step of coffee process. From where each and every kilo of beans comes from, to countless cuppings and even the international coffee expo, Mel soaked up all she could from the coffee aficionados.
Having worked with and around the velvety emulsion that is coffee for six years and counting, Mel had always wanted to own a café. “I got a job at the uni at Rush 2 and learnt everything from there. I was lucky enough to be working with baristas that were extremely passionate about the craft of coffee and that was passed down to me,” states Mel of her bean loving counterparts.
“Since I was a kid, I knew I was going to own a cafe. There was never a doubt in my mind – it was just a matter of when I was going to do it. One day I approached Alex, Ane and Niels to ask how they went about starting up the company … And a few days later I signed on with them to be a partner. I’m so glad I have decided to start out at such a young age. I can’t imagine a time where I have as much energy, passion, desire to learn and as few commitments.”
There is no doubt that the Sifter’s space will be one to watch in Wollongong.