Opening a hospitality business is a challenge at the best of times. But when Black Market Coffee launched its new space in Marrickville there was an additional obstacle: it was in early July, right after Sydney went into lockdown. But owners Angus Nicol and Jess Hol – who also run Black Market’s popular Enmore Road cafe and the roastery’s wholesale business – are keeping positive.
“We’ve managed to make sure no staff member has been worse off through this period,” Nicol tells *Broadsheet. “And just trying to get all the background stuff done so that hopefully when we reopen, we can really hit the ground running.”
The spacious warehouse is a big step up from Black Market’s origins in Hol’s garage, where she taught herself how to roast coffee beans. The new space, down a backstreet in Marrickville’s industrial heartland, brings everything – a cafe, roastery, tasting bar and training space – together under one roof. It joins an ecosystem of cafes and roasteries that already call the area home, including Ona, Roastville, Double Roasters and Coffee Alchemy, which recently moved around the corner onto Sydenham Road.
“This is our home for roasting, for training all in one,” says Nicol. “And that’s the first time we’ve been able to do that. This is 10 years’ worth of dreaming and planning.”
The front portion of the whitewashed industrial space is taken up by the cafe, which is demarcated by a counter running the width of the building, behind which the barista works. Stretching behind that is a tasting room, and further along is the roastery. A communal table in the centre of the cafe space, as well as counter seating running around two walls, will allow for dine-in customers when lockdown ends.
The front counter is where you’ll be able to participate in tasting experiences, which will include coffee and food pairings. And while a “sensory coffee journey” might sound intimidating, Black Market is aiming for the exact opposite effect.
“We even get intimidated going into some specialty coffee bars around Sydney – it’s almost like it’s gone super fine dining,” says Nicol. “And we just wanted to bring that specialty coffee to everyone, for people to come to us to just ask those silly questions that they’ve really wanted to ask but … the person [in another cafe] is too busy, too intimidating.”
The training space, meanwhile, is both for those who simply want to make better coffee at home, and for aspiring baristas who want to get into the industry but can’t because they don’t have the experience.
While everything’s takeaway at the moment, the full cafe experience will kick in once restrictions ease. There are multiple blends for milk-based coffees, as well as single origins for filter and cold brew. A range of smoothies are packed with plant-based protein, hemp oil, collagen, fruits and natural nut butters.
But you’ll also find a range of croissants and other pastries, and classic cafe dishes, including tomato and mozzarella-topped sourdough; green bowls with miso pumpkin; gruyere melts; and salami sandwiches. It’s also doing an okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) roll, which is set to be a post-lockdown smash hit.
At the moment it’s operating a drive-through so you can order at home then head down in your car to get your morning brew.
“People seem really pumped about it,” says Nicol. “It’s completely the opposite of our Enmore cafe, but I love that it’s the same product delivered in a really different way. Sometimes, they don’t realise I’m going to come up to the [car] window and look in. And people sometimes are in full pyjamas – and they’re like, ‘Oh! I’m sorry, I’m wearing my pyjamas’. But that’s what Black Market is about. We do it at their level. People just want to get their coffee.”
Black Market Coffee
24 Cadogan Street, Marrickville
Mon to Sat 7am–1pm