The New Black’s Sam Holman became a coffee roaster purely by chance.
“We started roasting our own beans for family [using] a little home popcorn maker,” Holman says of a tiny operation he started with friend Eli Rami. Their families wanted more, so they invested in a small five-kilogram roaster. “Within the space of five or six weeks we had cafes coming to us saying, ‘We really want to buy your beans’.”
That was around a year ago. Now the gents run their own coffee roastery, The Black Lab Coffee Co, out of a Coolangatta warehouse. There a 20-kilogram roaster churns out 250 to 300 kilograms of beans a week. A lot of that output is sold in Sydney (Rami looks after business south of the border) while the rest is sent to Brisbane.
Here, Holman has been serving the beans at Two Black Birds, a Spring Hill cafe he opened mid-2017. Now, though, comes The New Black, The Black Lab’s new flagship Brisbane cafe.
Previously home to Lost Boys, Holman had his work cut out undoing that cafe’s intricate fit-out. “When we came in there was black all over the walls, music posters, trees and glass bottles hanging from the ceiling,” he says.
Holman and a small team turned the room into a light-filled space that features a patterned-tile floor and exposed-brick walls.
The kitchen is run by Andrew Cameron (ex-PawPaw, Little Loco), who has put together an elaborate all-day menu featuring brekkie ramen, chilli scramble and the “ultimate” lamb toastie.
The New Black’s premium blend (50 per cent Colombian, 20 per cent Peruvian, 20 per cent Costa Rican, 10 per cent Sumatran) runs through a La Marzocco Linea machine. A single origin rotates weekly.
On Friday and Saturday nights Holman envisions the cafe turning into an afternoon knock-offs spot offering a number of bottled and canned beers and red and white wines. Food-wise it will offer three boards – one meat, one cheese and one vegetarian.
In the space next door Holman’s partner Samantha Fitzpatrick will next week open a cake shop, Cakes & Shit, which will double as a late-night desserts bar. A selection of Fizpatrick’s cakes will be available at The New Black.
The New Black opened softly this week serving a limited menu. The full menu comes online next week. The official opening is Thursday March 15.
The New Black
694 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
Sun to Thu 7am–3pm
Fri & Sat 7am–9pm