First Press Coffee – Interview with Jimmy Elias

[My Fair Melbourne received a complimentary delivery of First Press cold drip coffee. The Sidamo is fantastic – much smoother and fresher than your usual hot espresso coffee. A must try!]

First Press Cold Drip Coffee

You may have noticed a few funnel-like contraptions popping up at city cafés recently. A tall, tower like structure dripping water through a glass funnel and ground coffee beans, one slow drip at a time. It is reminiscent of those year seven science class experiments but much more likely to keep you alert.

Cold drip coffee has well and truly arrived in this city and coffee fiends are taking note. I recently caught up with cold drip connoisseur Jimmy Elias, founder of First Press Coffee. First Press are new to the cold brew scene and doing things differently, delivering cold drip coffee to doors across Melbourne. Think of them as the modern-day milkmen – they drip, they bottle, they drop it at your doorstep.

Best served cold over ice or with a splash of milk, First Press’ cold drip is a satisfying cup. It takes these guys 36 minutes to drip one of their 50 ml ‘little kicker’ bottles, the equivalent of one strong coffee. Elias tells me this slow process means the flavour of the coffee is smooth so it can be enjoyed on its own and without sugar, almost like a good scotch.

First Press are offering two drips at the moment, a traditional tasting Brazilian drip and an Organic Sidamo with beans sourced from Ethiopia. Whilst both varieties have that familiar coffee taste, the cold brew method brings out the flavour nuances in each. I absolutely loved the Sidamo which has a much lighter, fresher coffee taste than your average hot espresso. First Press are delivering bottles of their cold drip around the metro area and at selected farmer’s markets – check out their Facebook page and website for more details and stockists. Many thanks to Dean Schmideg for the gorgeous photos.

Hope you enjoy the interview.

First Press Cold Drip Coffee
The First Press boys (from left) – Jimmy Elias, Hamish Walmsley and Michael Calle

Can you tell me a bit about First Press and how it got started?

“First Press Coffee began in around July last year. I was in advertising and my contract finished up and I just sort of knew it was now or never to run with this idea.

Originally the idea came from talking with a couple of friends and also from travelling. I travelled for two years around South America and the States. I saw cold brew coffee and cold drip coffee in the States a lot and I wasn’t sure why it wasn’t found in bottled format in Melbourne. I thought it was a really interesting idea to have a ready-to-drink, less acidic coffee that you could have by itself without the bitter oils that come out of espresso extraction, and that’s ready whenever you want in your fridge. With Melbourne being the coffee capital of the world it’s crazy that they haven’t come into this market yet. From my knowledge of starting businesses, typically when things become big in the United States, Australia follows pretty quickly, so I thought that this idea could really work.”

What is cold drip coffee?

“Cold drip coffee is a very slow cold extraction of coffee. We have machines in a warehouse that slowly drip cold water through a cylinder of brown coffee for ten hours so it’s kind of like a drop every few seconds. Because it is a fairly slow, cold extraction the coffee doesn’t get any of the bitter oils you get out of an espresso extraction which is quite a fast, pressurised heat extraction. It is a very smooth coffee to drink and is a way to really enjoy the subtle characters of beans from around the world without having that bitter finish.

With cold drip, one can notice the nuances in the varying beans from around the world. Our Brazilian cold drip and our Ethiopian cold drip are both Arabica coffee beans, however, when you try them, you can taste the differences between the two.

We get a lot of chocolate hazelnut coming out of the Brazil beans and the Ethiopian beans have much more citrus and caramel palette. It’s a way for people to taste the differences in coffee and really enjoy it, because it doesn’t leave an acidic finish.”

Can you describe how the taste of your cold drip is different to other types of coffee?

“We aim to maintain a fine balance in our coffee to allow consumers to either drink it straight or mix it with ice and milk.

The taste you get with our coffee is quite a strong, recognisable taste, especially with our Brazil. It is very smooth and there is a really nice aftertaste.”

Tell me about the subscriptions. How does that work?

“We wanted to have cold drip accessible to people and coffee accessible to people without them necessarily having to go to the shops. So we wanted to set up a subscription model where people can have coffee delivered to their house or to their office once a week or once a fortnight. The idea came to us through Grant, our business coach. We sort of played around with it and really liked the idea of having cold drip coffee delivered to your door. It’s very new and it’s working, people are really interested. It’s something that they don’t have to think about – ‘oh I have to do the order’, or anything like that. We just turn up with a bottle of our precious coffee each week. Anyone in the metropolitan area can subscribe.”

I hear you use direct trade coffee. What does that mean?

“Direct Trade coffee means our buyer purchases directly from the coffee growers, cutting out the middle men and certification programs that can all take a cut and reduce the returns for the farmer. Long term, mutually beneficial relationships are formed to ensure a higher quality of coffee, and greater reward for the farmer.”

I love your label – the elk head. How did that come about?

Well, interesting story. We designed our logo with a website called 99 designs. Basically, you nominate a certain amount of money and designers from around the world compete for your design. We had all these designers putting up hot cups of coffee and we were telling everyone ‘guys it’s cold coffee we can’t have a steaming hot cup of coffee in our brand’. Me and Hamish (a business partner) were up late one night kind of stressing about it. There was a few days left in the competition and we had nothing. We were sort of thinking about animal symbolism so we jumped on a website and saw an elk. The terms next to the elk were exactly the brand values we had established which were strength (of the coffee), vitality which is sort of the health part of the less acidic coffee, freedom to have coffee on your own terms whenever you want in your fridge, and nobility… So when we looked up an elk and saw a picture of it I was like ‘yes that’s awesome let’s do that’. A guy on the website put up that picture and we thought that thought really cool.

I have seen on your social media pages lots of creativity with the coffee. Can you give My Fair Melbourne an exclusive recipe?

A few of our customers love to play around with different recipes using First Press. We have one person who loves to mix it with their smoothie and they are always shooting through recipes. Another guy, Dean, is also great for us. He takes a lot of really amazing photos and loves getting creative in the kitchen and doing different recipes with the cold drip. It’s perfect, because it shows the diversity of the product and what you can do with the coffee because it is ready to drink.

RECIPE – FIRST PRESS CHAI BANANA CRUNCH

1. Pour 50ml of First Press coffee onto crushed ice

2. Drizzle a heaped teaspoon of condensed milk over the coffee

3. Add 8-10 crumbled banana chips on top

4. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of chai masala powder (First Press use Gewurzhaus)

5. Garnish with a cinnamon quill which can be used to stir ingredients together

First Press Chai Banana Crunch
First Press Chai Banana Crunch
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3 thoughts on “First Press Coffee – Interview with Jimmy Elias

    1. Thanks Katie! Honestly it’s fantastic. The Sidamo is my favourite – I have had three deliveries since this article went up! It’s just so convenient and really really good coffee. I can’t recommend these guys enough!

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