The Baristas’ Shed / by Amanda Jones

Constantly opening one’s mind to inspiration may seem like a fanciful dream, but for Matt Hargreaves, who owns The Baristas’ Shed in Marsden Park, it is a curious mind that has always led to new opportunities.

Although having worked in hospitality since his early teens, it was not until his early twenties that Matt first began his journey with the coffee bean.

“I was that guy that asked for cappuccino, no chocolate, because I didn't know what a latte was,” admits Matt.

Discovering that there was more than what meets the eye in a simple coffee, and more interest than the energy drinks that had sustained him throughout his teens, Matt began to pull his first coffees at irregular café shifts, until inspiration struck.

“I found this little café in Thornleigh and I walked past it all the time and I thought ‘God, I've never been there.’” Finding out that the current owners only sold a dozen or so coffees a day, Matt saw the potential for a slightly greater volume of coffee.

“I thought to myself, I can serve more than ten customers a day, so I took a risk with that and I ended up owning it for three years. During that time, I realised that I developed a love and passion for coffee.”

Taking this love and passion further, an opportunity arose to take on the lease for a café space in the newly developed Marsden Park area. What was once farmland and dry eucalypt forest was being quickly subdivided, part of the rapidly expanding north-west of Sydney. But the essence of what was once there lives on in the present Baristas’ Shed.

“One of the first times I came out here it was just farmland, and there was this one little house that sat exactly where this building is and it looked like a little shed, which is the little outline that we've got on top of our logo.”

Taking this a step further, the interior of the café, designed by Nik Mavrakis, continues the rustic vibes, but with an update that is in tune with the modern appearance of the area. The high ceilings allow for constant airflow and a bright and light interior. But, having the logo was one thing; Matt still needed a name. Opening his mind once again to inspiration, with the help of a couple of heavier brews, Matt sought out what was to be the defining moniker.

“I went to the pub [and] I got there at 2 o‘clock in the afternoon and I left around midnight and I wrote over 400 different names. … Funny enough The Baristas’ Shed was in the first twenty names that I wrote down.”

This approach of defining the café himself has also led Matt in the coffee on offer. Although initially sourcing his coffee from a roaster, Matt subsequently worked with Kevin Crouse and Peter Andrews of Black Drum Roasters to develop his own blend. A service that we offer to cafes that are going through a larger quantity of coffee, developing his own blend and brand has allowed Matt and The Baristas’ Shed to stand out from the rest.

“I wanted to create a name for myself and so that's where I met up with Kev and Pete and decided that this was the right thing to do, and since then we've almost doubled our sales of coffee.”

With his own blend, Matt has been able to find a flavour profile that personifies The Baristas’ Shed.

“One of our main flavours that you get within our brand is cardamom and sea salt and it's that first sip on the coffee that you actually go ‘Woah, that's intense’ but it's also really full of flavour and being such a medium roast as well it's very well balanced.”

Having such creative freedom has also led Matt to experiment with coffee creations, and in particular the iconic Baristas’ Shed cold brew that is house-bottled and available for those on the go. A sure summer favourite, it impressed customers last summer and is ready to kick off as the weather heats up.

On the eats front The Baristas’ Shed is also unique. The menu involves inventive takes on café favourites, such as the eggs benedict with miso and seaweed or the chilli con carne with poached eggs, both of which are local favourites. Much more than your regular pit stop, The Baristas’ Shed is where inspiration has found a home.