Black Velvet Espresso

The caffeine offering at this urban pit stop has evolved since husband and wife team Darren and Jackie Silverman took it over almost three years ago.

Initially they offered the coffee from another roaster and began roasting their own in tiny batches on a bench-top machine.

Demand grew as customers requested bags of beans to take home.

“We bought a two-kilogram roaster and a smoke and odour neutraliser so we could continue roasting on site,” says Darren.

“But then we had wholesale requests and it got to the point where we would have been roasting in the shop full-time.”

Three months ago they set up a roasting plant in Keilor and established their own coffee label. Darren spends a few days a week in the café and a few more roasting the company’s three espresso blends, named after classic rock tunes Nightswimming, Tiny Dancer and Voodoo Child.

Two days a week Jackie, a former dancer and teacher, runs the espresso bar that was once the Melbourne flagship store for Toby’s Estate Coffee.

She also works behind the scenes to build the wholesale business, which now has a handful of Victorian customers and an account in Hobart.

BARISTA

Darren Silverman opened his first café 18 years ago in Acland Street. He cringes at the name he gave it (The Coffee Machine) but there he learnt the importance of quality and consistency.

“I used to feel that buying a coffee was like a lottery and you could never be sure what you’d get at a café from one day to the next,” he says.

“We wanted to set up a place that people could love and rely on. At first we used imported coffee and then later switched to locally roasted, fresh coffee.”

Next came Café 396 in Little Collins in the city and in 2006 he and his twin brother, Andrew, opened Filter Café and Bar in Fitzroy. Darren joined Di Bella Coffee as its Victorian operations manager for 3½ years before he and Jackie opened Black Velvet Espresso.

The three seasonal blends rotate on the coffee menu and there’s a new single origin to sample every couple of days. Filter brews are available in the afternoons and cold-drip brews will be offered as the weather warms.

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