If you have any interest in coffee, it’s likely you’ve heard the story of Toby Smith. Inspired by his travels through the coffee plantations of Guatemala and Colombia, Smith set up shop in his mum’s Woolloomooloo garage in the late ’90s, now known as Toby’s Estate.
Smith’s flagship cafe in Chippendale always housed the large roastery at the back, but customers in the front cafe wouldn’t have known it. Black chalkboard walls concealed the rich aromas and soft clicking of freshly roasted beans pouring into burlap bags, as Toby’s roasters stood hard at work in the background.
“People keep asking me when we built the factory out the back,” says Smith, explaining the space’s new design. Glass windows have replaced the back, chalkboard wall of the cafe, exposing the spacious roasting room and machines used by Toby’s team to perfect the roasting and packaging of its beans.
A few years ago Smith bought what is now the Toby’s Estate plantation on the Finca Santa Teresa farm in the Chiriqui Province of Panama. “Growing and processing our own coffee is something we’ve been working towards since I set foot on the coffee farms back in 1998,” he says.
In recognition of this farm and the unique regions where Toby’s Estate beans come from, there have been new additions to the cafe menu. Try Cascara pulled-pork burritos (cascara is the husk of the coffee cherry that has been separated from the seed during the production process). There is also Panama arepas, made traditionally with corncake tortillas filled with pulled pork, fried egg and onion relish.
Smith hopes the updated space will also serve as a sophisticated drinking location in a suburb filled with student-inspired establishments. Hours will be extended at the end of the week with local beers and other non-caffeinated beverages on offer.