There’s even a Tim Tam Slam
I love stories about transplanted traditional flavours. He’s introduced Bostonians to the tradition of the Aussie meat pie, our fav choc biscuits Tim Tams, a Tim Tam Slam (sucking up the hot drink through a bitten-off biscuit dunked in the cup), and even lamingtons (pictured above). To non Aussies and Kiwis: a lamington is a square of sponge cake dipped in dark chocolate and liberally dusted with shredded coconut. They’re a national institution. Todd says Aussies have a flair for good coffee. Boston is a market where there’s room for fresh ideas outside the chain stores. He does a go-to pumpkin latte for Halloween.
CuppaCoffee is near the big sports stadium Boston Garden, in the heart of the city. Sports fans usually like to have pizza with their dose of sport. Todd’s challenge is to convert the slice-of-pizza culture. He’s getting plenty of repeat business. Bostonians have tucked into 12,000 meat pies in the 8 months the espresso bar has been open. Pies come from the Brooklyn-based company Dub Pies (Down Under Bakery) the first specialty bakery to bring the authentic New Zealand-Australian meat pies to the US. On a slow day, when Boston is blanketed by a snowstorm, I have a chat to Todd and fire off some questions.
Flat whites are relatively new to the US. Hugh Jackman helped introduce them to NYC. How are they going down in Boston? Hugh and I have very similar six packs, haha. Yes, we do offer flat whites on our menu and they are a strong sellers as any signature drink from Australia, Americans will try. We also do Southern Cross lattes, which is chocolate and hazelnut and Milo lattes. We sell thousands of Tim Tams which we sell individually and by the pack. We have a lot of our customers Tim Tam Slam on the bar. Some of the other Aussie treats are Monte Carlos, lamingtons and Anzac cookies. Anything Aussie sells out.
What’s the response to an espresso cuppa cawffee and pie Aussie style? Bostonians are very loyal to Dunkin Donuts as this is where the chain started. However, I think Boston, for such a worldly city, has very few espresso bars that serve high quality coffee and know how to make a good latte or espresso based coffee. Boston has received us very well. In the 8 months since we opened, we’ve formed a very strong following of regulars that appreciate the quality of our product. The pies also are growing. We get a lot of questions like: What is it? How do you eat it? We serve breakfast pies, spinach rolls and sausage rolls in the morning in good quantities. The next largest is the meat pie. The translation of the chicken options are understandable for the American market as they have the chicken pot pie that is well known in New England. We’ve sold around 12,000 pies out of our little 488sqft espresso bar.
How does Boston compare to your former hometown? Boston is a harbour city that comes alive around the water in the hotter months. Boston is a great sailing city and you have Cape Cod so close with great beaches. Bostonians also love their beer and so do most Aussies. As we know they can knock some back.
What’s the coffee culture like? The coffee culture in Boston is Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks as the major chain coffee shops. We are years behind Seattle or Sydney and that is why I got in the business as I believe I am on the ground floor in this city that I now call home.
Do coffee fans like to grind their own beans at home, or does pre-ground drip coffee still rule? In the US, drip coffee sales are significant and so is ice coffee. So people do drink a lot of coffee at home. I believe that is another distinctive difference in the market place between Australia and the US. People in Australia go out to have coffee as a release and social event. When this coffee culture begins in the Boston then the specialty coffee will really take off. People do buy our beans to take home. Most make us grind it for them.
What beans do you use? In the US all we get is Arabica beans. While we have tried to get Robusta through our roaster it is near impossible if there is no demand.
New coffee trends in the US for 2014? In Boston specialty coffee is in its infancy, so I’m in business to see the shift in the market. Flavours are big in Boston (driven by the chains) and so is iced coffee so we cater to the market, and the espresso based shift in coffee is getting stronger and stronger. I also see a lot of pour overs happening in a number of independents however some of the challenges is that it is just too slow for the consumer to wait. Americans are “go go go” so they want everything now. So when it comes to espresso-based drinks we are set up like a production line.