When Samuel Lee and Quinton Ng first opened Double Cross Cafe on Crows Nest’s main drag six years ago, they did the fit-out all by themselves. It took them three months, and Lee admits there were a lot of things they’d have done differently if they had their time again. So this time, they have.
After recently relocating Double Cross just around the corner into a new space three times the size, they decided to keep the old site and create something completely new for the area.
“This is where we started everything six years ago,” Lee tells Broadsheet. “This space has a lot of memories.”
While those memories may remain, the space itself is now completely unrecognisable. A new walnut veneer feature wall at the rear of the shop draws your eye. A built-in shelf houses a Transparent speaker playing jazz and other smooth tunes, while a sleek stainless-steel bar takes up most of the floor space. Bar seats are positioned on either side, including right next to the baristas.
“The idea is that everyone can sit around and talk coffee together,” Lee says. Because that’s what this new space is all about: coffee. And only coffee.
While Double Cross Dining Room serves Primary Coffee, Only Coffee Project makes its milk brews with Melbourne’s Market Lane. It only serves full-cream, skim and Oatly oat milk. There are no chai lattes. There is definitely no decaf.
“Soy milk tends to curdle with our coffee, and almond milk uses a lot of water and so isn’t very sustainable,” explains Lee. “Plus, lots of people have nut allergies these days.”
He doesn’t see this business model as limiting, but rather as an opportunity. If a customer’s preferred milk isn’t served, they’re encouraged to try the black coffee, which is where things get really interesting.
At the moment, Only Coffee Project is the sole Australian stockist of Sey Coffee, a Brooklyn, New York-based roastery considered one of the US’s best. The micro-roaster champions producers and transparency – it even lists the price it paid for the beans on tasting cards. Their brightly coloured boxes of coffee are available to buy at Only Coffee Project (be warned, they come with a hefty price tag).
Filter coffees, also made with Sey, are served in a ceramic Origami sensory cup, which looks a lot like a wine glass and acts much the same too, trapping in the aromas. You get a completely different flavour profile when sipping from this cup, as opposed to from a regular mug. It’s this sort of experience and education that Only Coffee is all about.
There are also plans to showcase a rotating roster of high-quality roasters, so you never know what you might get – but rest assured it’s going to be good.
Only Coffee Project
Shop 2/118 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest