Although its common knowledge, the Mecca Roastworks operates in a lovely huge space that until recent years was one of Sydney's only 9-5 brothels.
Mecca had been operating out of the back half of this large shed for years, whilst the front half was still trading as a brothel, until 2 years ago when they acquired the front half and began work converting it into a beautiful cafe space. Nestled comfortably between rows of mechanic's workshops and factories, its a slice of cafe paradise in the industrial streets of Alexandria.
Although Alexandria has seen a large influx of culture and renovation over the last few years, it still maintains a blue collared air. I parked my car next to one of the mechanic shops and walked in through a large roller door and started searching for head-roaster Tuli Keidar. Mecca's roasting space is filled with that industrial air too - its hot, noisy and everyone has their earphones in and heads down. Although Tuli spends a large portion of his year travelling to source coffee, I find him today underneath the 1968 90kg Probat roaster, passionately vacuuming up coffee husks. I tapped him on his shoulder, startling him. Instantly he spotted the camera around my shoulder and laughingly replied something along the lines of "You should take a picture of me vacuuming, thats the real job of a coffee roaster."
Tuli and I had been friends for years and I genuinely enjoy his intensity and passion. Although the idea of artwork was discussed whilst we were surfing it needed to be finalised. So we sat down and talked over possibilities for a watercolour piece that he wanted to accompany a coffee blend he had been working on. Tuli shared the concept for the blend; combining a rich Honduran coffee that he had sourced earlier this year and a delicate Ethiopian lot - he aimed to create a beautifully smooth cup that resonates along your taste buds with notes of dark chocolate poured over rich berries.
If you have ever experienced a form of synaesthesia, a sense of feeling something in an area other then was been directly affected, then Tuli's idea for the artwork should appeal to you. He cupped the sample roasts of the blend and wrote down all the colours he saw whilst dissecting the tastes and came out with a beautiful palette; deep purples, dark blues and a subtle red. As for imagery: a mysterious forest of some sort that has the air of keeping a secret.
It was a nice brain storm. Afterward I walked around and took some photos on my way out through the same large door I entered.