This month at Three Thousand Thieves we’re focusing on the creativity and ingenuity behind specialty roasting. And who better to feature than Uncle Joe’s Coffee, headed by Mark Leo. Priding himself on trying new and exciting ways to get the best out of the bean, Mark’s experimental approach breaks all the rules in the best possible way (like coffee with an unbelievably long shelf life - that’s right, we cupped an eight month old coffee that tasted incredible. Don’t believe us? Well, keep reading and we think we’ll change your mind).
 
Like most of us, Mark’s love of coffee had very humble beginnings. “For me, my coffee journey began in late 2008, when I walked into a franchise chain coffee store,” says Mark. “Prior to this I had never really been a coffee drinker, only ever going out for coffee once in a blue moon.” What began as a simple curiosity over a gold medal sticker on a coffee bag, soon turned into an all-consuming quest to unlock the mysteries of the bean. Cut to the present day, and Mark is one of the most respected roasters in the industry, having won a host of awards including Overall Winner at both the 2014 and 2015 Australian Compak Golden Bean Competition (the largest coffee roasters competition and conference in the world).
 
Our first feature coffee is a labor of love for the crew at Uncle Joe’s. Teaming up with experimental coffee growers Prakash and Mohan of Riverdale Estate, the Selection 9 showcases the potential that’s coming out of India right now. A stunning espresso option, it’s a genetic blend of Ethiopian Tafarikela and Hybrido-de-Timor; a cross of Ethiopian and Indonesian varietals. Think of it as a single varietal ‘Mocha Java’. On the palette you can expect exquisite notes of lush velvety chocolate, orange, caramel, clove and spices with a medium acidity. If you’re brewing the Selection 9 on a commercial espresso machine, Mark recommends: 21g dose, 94°C water temperature, 45ml yield over 28-33 seconds.
 
For the filter, we’re showcasing Uncle Joe’s signature blend: the Purple Haze. A blend of two natural Ethiopians and a Kenyan varietal, it has a well-balanced, clean, sweet and tropical fruit flavour upfront, which then develops into red grape, apple and blueberry. A real pocket rocket, the Purple Haze has won a host of accolades three years running at the Golden Bean Awards. Mark recommends a 1:15 (coffee:water) ratio, 96°C water temperature and 3-5 minute brew time.
 
Recently making the move from Brisbane to Victoria, Mark’s excited about the opportunities that Melbourne has to offer - and is opening a brand new Uncle Joe’s venue opposite Swinburne University in Hawthorn very, very shortly. Keep an eye on their Instagram for updates: @unclejoescoffee
 
“Melbourne has an amazingly vibrant and diverse coffee scene. The energy within the coffee community is so invigorating and inspiring.” 
 
So what’s in store for Uncle Joe’s in the future? “We love discovering super passionate producers who are just as fanatical as we are. We’re also excited to be bringing a unique brewing / infusion method to the market: the BKON brewer is a reverse atmospheric infusion device.” You can check out the BKON at the new Uncle Joe’s showcase store, opening soon.
 
So come on an experimental journey with us as we try some of the most innovative coffee on the market. After all, when it comes to Uncle Joe’s Coffee, they don’t just meet our great expectations, they exceed them.