With one communal table and a few seats at the window, Coffee Cartel Brew Bar is one of the smaller cafes in Geelong. Nonetheless, its coffee reliably brings the crowd.

Nathan Johnston opened the spot in 2014, to showcase the work of his Geelong roastery, Coffee Cartel. During the day, anyway. At night, the cafe becomes a training facility to teach skills ranging from cupping (coffee tasting) and latte art, to whisky and tea pairing.

Johnston put the fit-out together himself, and it looks like the work of a seasoned designer. The eye is immediately drawn to the large lightbulb-filled letters spelling out FRESH above the silver Slayer coffee machine. Green and blue butterflies sit under a glass cloche on the central table across from a strip of tropical-looking greenery planted in the wall.

One of the goals of the Brew Bar is to change attitudes towards coffee. Prices for a single brew range up to $10, encouraging the idea that not all coffees are created equal and that a carefully farmed, processed and roasted coffee is worth paying a bit extra for. There’s also an impressive selection of teas with a similar ethos.

There are just a few sandwiches and muffins to keep the focus on Johnston’s real passion. You know, the one that brings the crowd.

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Updated: November 16th, 2017

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