May 01, 2023
Smack dab in the middle of the super cool Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, the Wide Open Road Team has been roasting up a storm since 2009. Truly one of the first specialty coffee roasters to hit the scene, these legends have mixed creativity with blood, sweat and tears to build a business that’s more like a caffeine-loving community.
Their homebase is still in good ol’ Brunswick, where they started, and they’ve also just opened a cosy second cafe in beautiful Byron Bay. The charming industrial building, which houses their Brunswick cafe and roastery, is a local favourite – serving up a modern Australian cuisine with a European twist, alongside their delicious coffee. Wide Open Road’s headquarters should really be on everyone's itinerary if they’re visiting Melbourne or find themselves in the neighbourhood! Also, if you just happen to drop by during one of their many roasting sessions you’ll be able to watch the gang doing what they do best through the large window dividing the cafe and the roastery.
Wide Open Road is, at its core, a creative bunch who wholeheartedly believe that coffee is the ideal energiser for accomplishing creative tasks. They currently have a few top-secret projects in the works so watch this space. In the meantime, enjoy this month’s coffees by Wide Open Road. They are superb!
The Thieves Team sat down with owner Jono Hill from Wide Open Road to hear more about the roastery’s origin story, learn where their name came from, and where to go in Melbourne for a good cup of coffee or a weekend bevy.
How did Wide Open Road get started?
It was partly out of necessity, which is hard to believe now with so many roasteries in Melbourne, but this was at a time when there were barely a handful of boutique roasters around. We had already been running our first cafe, A Minor Place, for a few years and we knew we wanted to try roasting for ourselves. There was a particular coffee profile that we wanted to work with, so we decided to take the plunge.
One day we were walking along Barkly Street in Brunswick and noticed that the local NQR (Not Quite Right) supermarket was up for rent. It seemed like the perfect place to bring together all the things we love: coffee, creativity and community. With two levels of over 1,000 sqm to play with we figured we could do a lot with the space!
Where did the name ‘Wide Open Road’ come from?
When we were coming up with a name for the roastery & cafe we wanted it to be a song title. Our first cafe, A Minor Place, had brought us so much luck and joy it became a superstition to name all things after songs we loved. Wide Open Road is more than a song title though, it’s a mood and state of mind. Wide Open Road conjures a narrative and story of how we want to travel through the world.
How do you source your coffee beans and what do you look for in the beans you use?
It’s important for us to partner with green importers that are able to provide us with transparency so that we can ensure all aspects of the supply chain are well looked after. We are also continually increasing the amount of direct trade relationships we have with coffee producers – including our feature filter coffee for Thieves!
We love to source a variety of different types of coffees, each with their own unique characteristics. We look for coffees that are clean and balanced, but we also love to find super unique coffees.
What do you think is the most exciting in your local coffee scene right now?
The coffee scene is in a constant state of flux, and that's fantastic! In recent years we've seen a growing appreciation for coffee, particularly among those who have set up their own home brewing stations. This surge of interest is truly wonderful, as coffee is often about the ritual and how we start our day. The increased awareness of various home brewing options, as opposed to just grabbing a takeaway latte, has fostered a deeper appreciation for the entire coffee journey.
For us, this is an exciting development, having been immersed in the coffee world for so long and visiting farmers at origin. Witnessing a new wave of enthusiasts getting excited about coffee is genuinely thrilling!
What are your favourite coffee hang-out spots?
We love to sip on a nice coffee or glass of wine at our friends’ cafe, Heartattack & Vine, or their latest venue Sun Hands – both are in Carlton! Also, our neighbours at the Bergy Seltzer have recently expanded with their Bergy Bandroom opening up. Going to see live music is a passion of ours and this new venue is also an awesome addition to our Brunswick community. We’re super excited to be able to see weekly gigs right across the laneway! Oh, and if you’re looking for a good Martini head to Shaboo Shoobah in Brunswick West which was opened by our co-founder Hootan Heydari!
Colombia / Sara Gutierrez / Anaerobic Washed
This month Wide Open Road has sourced a very special Colombian coffee from green coffee producer, Sara Gutierrez, based in Buenavista – a wellknown coffee growing area located in the south-central part of Colombia’s Quindio Region.
Notes of caramel, hazelnut praline and stewed pear
Suggested Recipe for Filter:
Dose in 19.5g
Dose out 40g
In 26-30 seconds
Bathysphere Blend / Rwanda, Colombia & Papua New Guinea Blend
ESPRESSO & CAPSULE COFFEE
Wide Open Road’s very first coffee blend, created after much trial and error. Bathysphere has evolved since its early days, it’s now a complex yet delicious blend of three different coffees from around the world – perfect for pairing with milk or as an espresso on its own.
Rwanda, Colombia & Papua New Guinea
Notes of vanilla, sweet caramel and fruit
Suggested Recipe for Espresso:
Dose in 19.5g
Dose out 40g
In 26-30 seconds