If there’s one thing Melbourne loves more than sport, it’s coffee. While it’s true the abundance of street side umbrellas are evidence that you can’t throw a roasted bean in this town without hitting a barista, it’s also true that not all latte’s are created equal, and what you discover is a local market that’s continually raising the bar to cater for the ever savvy java connoisseur.
It’s lucky for me that just across the road from where I work exists one such fine establishment, Black Velvet Espresso, which is owned and operated by the passionate dynamic duo Darren and Jackie Silverman. Far from being just another ‘coffee shop’ team Black Velvet actually roast their own beans, providing online shopping for their single origin & specific curated blends, available to wholesale and the home barista.
Anyone who knows me well would testify I practically mainline caffeine. So it stands to reason that over the past three plus years Darren, Jackie & I have got to know each other pretty well. Even though I’m almost part of the furniture over there, and while they both know I’m a photographer, it was still an honour when they approached me & asked if I could shoot some pictures for their business. After a little discussion on what they needed, mainly product shots & also a few portraits, I suggested the shop (after hours) as the shoot venue due to the metal bench top making a great surface for the product & we’d figure out where to shoot the portraits on the day. Sorted.
We aligned our respective dairies and on a Saturday morning a few weeks later gathered back at their espresso emporium. I quickly cleared a little space on the bench, threw up a few lights and began styling the home barista accessories while Darren fired up the La Marzocco. With Darren and Jackie being such a lovely couple there was lots of fun and easy laughter (not to mention a few latte’s) and before we knew it the time had flown and all the products were done. Onto the portraits.
Admittedly I already knew the shop was small & not really adequate for portraits. Nevertheless while I was shooting the product I was also scanning the room for just the right hitherto unnoticed angle or space to miraculously appear. Unfortunately it was not to be. That’s when Darren mentioned he needed to visit their roasting warehouse & perhaps that would be a good alternative option? Bingo!
A short trip later we arrived at roasting HQ. I was now peeking behind the curtain of this small business & seeing first hand the enormous quantity of beans these guys personally roast every week - well it almost made my eyes water. But as I gazed upon the mountains of rustic hessian bags I realised this was merely symbolic of how these two roll. The hard work, dedication & attention to detail comes right across the counter every day at their shop. Quite simply, they care.
So if you happen to find yourself in the city, and are in the mood for a beverage made with love, head on over to 136 Exhibition Street. Chances are I’ll be there too.
Website: Black Velvet Coffee