There’s a good chance that if you’re a coffee drinker, you’ve seen Mark W Free before. Best known for his long-standing role behind the machine at Brother Baba Budan, he is also the face behind the Black Coffee Shop.
Just under a year ago, a 10-day project serving nothing but black filter coffee was born – no espresso, milk or sugar to be seen. And ever since then, Free has been busy planning and perfecting brews in preparation for a long-term, mobile operation known as Black Coffee @ No Fixed Address, which had it's first cameo at Patricia Coffee Brewers last Saturday February 4.
“The idea is to have a bunch of different locations and collaborate with those where possible. If I did it in a bakery, I’d want to collaborate with them somehow. If I did it in a gallery I’d want to do something with them, just to keep it fresh and exciting,” says Free.
Sourcing coffee from Seven Seeds, Proud Mary, Small Batch and Market Lane, the plan at this stage, says Free, is to have Black Coffee @ No Fixed Address happening “every Saturday forever”. Similar to other roving food and drink projects such as Beatbox Kitchen and Gumbo Kitchen, Free will keep followers updated via Twitter and Tumblr.
Starting out in the industry a little over six years ago, Free has made thousands of espresso coffees. But since finding filter coffee two years ago, the appeal was almost instant. “I always think of more reasons why is great," says Free. "Coffee has this amazing, broad flavour spectrum, like a rainbow and when you make espresso it gets all the colours of the rainbow and concentrates it down to this gooey brown stuff, but filter coffee expands the coffee into this amazing complex drink that you can get a lot more out of.”
And for now, the system will continue to be pay as you feel. “I think that it works really well and it kind of encourages people to engage with the concept a bit more," he says. "Those who can pay a bit extra will and those who can’t won’t, but I don’t want to restrict people from having amazing coffee.”