Richard set off travelling in 1999 with plans to go right across Australia, ending up in Sydney for the Olympics in 2000. Whether by luck or fate, Richard was asked by the pub chain that he was working for, to travel to Tasmania to help a bar that was short-staffed. Mel was studying at the University of Tasmania at the time and they me at Irish Murphys on a Wednesday ‘Uni night’.
Tasmania is well known now for its wild terrain and wilderness, a strong foodie culture and high-quality vineyards. Richard and Mel stayed is Tasmania for 7 years before returning to Melbourne for 3 years, where Mel is originally from.
One of our common passions is coffee. Both of us have always been into coffee and have worked extensively in the hospitality industry. This ranges from Australia’s largest brewery through to Lavazza, one of the worlds most recognisable coffee brands.
Hospitality is considered a career in Australia, so people treat it as a serious career choice and dedicate themselves to it differently than many other countries. In addition to this, Australia was seeing a boom in the growth of small, independent artisan coffee shops, who roast their own coffee in-house. Aussies can be pretty snobby when it comes to coffee, which means that the standard of coffee is so good.
Coffee was first brought to Australia in the late 1940s by Italian migrant communities, who were making a much less bitter brew with a creamy top. This was considered a real taste sensation at the time! But it was more than just the coffee, the espresso bars offered new decorative styles and attracted an aspiring social set of Australians.
By the 2000s independently owned artisan coffee shops had become a very competitive scene, which kept the quality high. There are now lots of Australian-inspired cafes in many cities around the world, including New York, Paris, London, Berlin and San Francisco. Generally, the roasts used by Australian venues are much smoother, lighter and more caramel compared to a lot of US coffee which is a much darker roast and more bitter.
This is what we missed the most when we were back in Ireland and felt we could create both the vibe of an Australian style café, as well as a great cup of coffee. We set out to create a hospitality experience like nothing else locally. A major part of this was roasting our own coffee. What had started off as a side interest, had really grown to be our main focus.
When we returned to Ireland in 2017 Mel completed a coffee roasting course in Dublin and has experimented extensively with different beans and blends. We now use a single origin Guatemalan for our house espresso. Mel “loves its impact in a flat white and its flavour as a long black”.
Richard was trained as Barista Trainer by Lavazza, incorporating all aspects of setting up the coffee bar including bean selection, coffee recipes and drink preparation, coffee grinder and coffee machine set up and maintenance, different brew methods and create latte art.
By roasting in small batches, we can control the flavour profiles and quality a lot more. Traditionally coffee is roasted a lot darker which gives it that bitterness, we don’t roast it as dark, which allows some of the flavour of the coffee bean to come out. We also use certified speciality coffee beans which are a high grade of bean and ethically sourced.
The timing of our return to Ireland was very fortuitous as we noticed there has been a real shift in the way people enjoy coffee here in Northern Ireland, which only makes our job as coffee roasters even more exciting. Coffee is no longer just a necessity, but something that is expected to give us pleasure and exciting flavours.
Bravo Tango was the name we decided on for our coffee (which came from the post code) and we are working to create a more modern and contemporary brand focussed on quality – we’re really proud of what we do. Our customer come from all over now to buy our coffee beans and it’s something we want to grow and focus on
We love our coffee and our café and our locals have embraced it by helping move far more coffee than we first imagined!