“We’ve got the best coffee machine in Australia,” says Jin Lyu, co-founder of Humm Coffee Roasters, a cafe that opened in North Sydney late last year.
It’s a bold statement, but the Modbar ABR coffee machine is undeniably rare, expensive, and extremely slick. Most of the machinery sits below the cafe’s timber countertop. In fact, the only clue that coffee is even being made are three visible spouts with curved wood handles: two for making espresso, one for steaming milk.
“It’s not just a case of putting it on the bench,” says Humm co-founder James Christopher, who also founded Surry Hills rum distillery Brix. “You need to work with a plumber … and a carpenter to create the bespoke space.”
But the effort and expense are worth it. The top-of-the-line machine makes incredible coffee and the pour-overs are just as delicious. When Broadsheet visits, a single origin Kochere from Ethiopia is on offer. Lyu describes flavours of dark chocolate and lilac, but what’s most striking is the silky texture of the brew, and the fact it’s more like tea in its subtlety than coffee. “It’s almost like an infusion,” says Christopher.
Lyu’s passion for coffee is evident. Pouring water from the kettle into the Hario pour-over, his gaze intensifies as he carefully checks the weight. “Every gram of water changes the flavour of the coffee,” he says.
Humm roasts its own coffee at a shared space in Alexandria. “We buy our beans from a wholesaler, blend them ourselves and roast and pack,” says Christopher. “We’re taking back a step that many cafes have left in the hands of others. We don’t want to be handed someone else’s blend, we want to create our own.”
Eventually they’ll bring that process in-house with a second planned space which will accommodate both roasting and a cafe. “We want our customers to be around the roasters so they can ask questions and have an interactive experience,” says Christoper.
While coffee is clearly the focus at Humm, the food is excellent too. The menu isn’t revolutionary, but it deftly incorporates popular Sydney fare without feeling clichéd or overwrought.
“We do this fancy bacon and egg roll with a really high-quality bacon, yuzu sesame coleslaw and Kewpie mayo,” says Christopher. “We didn’t want to do the same thing as everyone else, but we still want to incorporate flavours that are popular.”
Instead of the ubiquitous pancakes there are crumpets made from fermented batter supplied by Carriageworks Markets stallholder Crumpets by Merna. They’re served with pineapple salsa, brulée banana, cream cheese frosting and salted-caramel syrup.
A 10-minute walk from the North Sydney train station hub, Humm is a peaceful option in an area that gets pretty busy during the week. The cafe has a neighbourhood vibe with pleasant, tree-shaded outdoor seating and a large, timber-dominated indoor space. And as one of the only North Sydney cafes open on the weekends, it’s quickly become a favourite among locals.
Humm Coffee Roasters
Shop 2B/211–223 Pacific Highway, North Sydney
(02) 8018 6743
Mon to Fri 7am–5pm
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on January 31, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.