For a guy born and raised on a coffee farm, opening a coffee bar in Sydney was a ‘no brainer’. In case you haven’t met him yet, the owner of this Surry Hill spot with a cult following – is Simon Jaramillo. He’s only been in Australia since the early 2000’s, but his influence on Sydney’s coffee culture is immeasurable. Put simply – Simon is a green bean importer, coffee roaster, café operator, and all round coffee guru. After years of roasting and supplying cafes around Sydney, he decided in 2013 to open his own ‘caffeine lab’. For the record- this is not a café. Its standing room only and it’s a space to have your senses saturated in all things caffeinated. You only have to look at the line-up of machinery on the bar… Synesso MVP Hydra, La Marzocco GB5, Steampunk, Mythos grinders, EK43, the EG-1 Lyn Weber; not to forget the Cold Drip and Pour Over station, and array of Scales, Coffee Tampers, and Distribution tools.
You may notice a Joker theme running through this long narrow space, which is much like a bat cave with its dark toned interior. That’s because Simon is a fan of the Joker- and you’ll even find vintage comics looping on the screen behind the main bar.
I’ve met many a fellow self-confessed coffee addict here, and had some of the most awe inspiring conversations along that side wall adorned with comic book inspired art by Heesco.
Just to give you an example of the calibre of beans Simon has on his menu on any given day, here are todays Filter and Espresso options:
– The Joker Blend (made up of a Costa Rican Honey Processed Gesha and an Ethiopian Suke Kuto Natural)
– The SQAB Blend (Made up of an Ethiopian Konga natural, an Ethiopian Chelelektu washed, an Indonesian Java washed, and a Colombian Curazao Washed)
– Colombian La Pradera Gesha Washed
– Costa Rican Gillio Caturra White Honey Processed
– Colombian La Palma Heroes Lactic processed Typica
– 90+ Ethiopian Nekisse Natural
– Honduras Gesha Don Fabio washed
– Panama Hartman Caturra Black Winey process
– Brazil Santa Rose Yellow Catuai Natural
– Ethiopian Areka Natural
– Ethiopian Idido Natural
– Costa Rican Don Mayo La Pastora
– Colombian La Union
– El Salvador Supersonic Bourbon Natural
– Semeon Abay Panama Special
Coffee is no joking matter here, regardless of the joker figurines fixed to the machines. I watched as Jet Zhu brewed me the Colombian La Pradera Gesha. From the moment he put the beans through the EG-1, the aroma that filled the air was captivating. From its jasmine tones, to its orange citrus highlights, this was one complex cup. We chatted about the coffee from crop to cup, and for a moment in time, I lost myself in the wonderful world of coffee.
You’ll find The Reformatory Caffeine Lab at 17-51 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills. Open daily from 6:30am to 4pm, and closed on Sundays.