Frank Andrews is the owner of the recently opened Darlinghurst café Frankie’s Beans, and as a coffee roaster with two silver and two bronze medals from the Australian International Coffee Awards to his name is looking to push things even further now as a café owner.
Andrews has recently developed a world first brewing method, Fractional Atmospheric Brew (FAB), which replaces the traditional filter, pour over and batch brew workflow in a fraction of the time while also elevating flavour, texture and mouthfeel.
“I am always someone who likes to question the norm and push conventional boundaries,” he says. “I was originally looking at how we could produce a better version of a long black. Seeing as a long black is probably my least favourite way to enjoy coffee I thought that if I could come up with a better version that I enjoyed, then surely my customers would also enjoy it.”
Using a Sanremo Opera coffee machine, he came up with a new brew method called ‘The Hybrid’ where he dropped the pressure on the Opera to as low as possible (approximately 3 bar).
“The results were great with significantly better flavours than a traditional long black,” he says. “That was the start of an obsession to be able to get more out of the Opera and to see if I could get the machine to produce a cup of coffee with a similar flavor profile of pour over coffee.”
After a number of discussions with Sanremo (both in Australia and in Italy) he made some temporary modifications to his machine.
“The results of the first cup I produced were mind blowing and I knew that I needed a more permanent solution,” he says. This lead to an extremely unique brewing method.
“When we tested the brewing pressure we discovered that we were brewing at a fraction of atmospheric pressure, and hence Fractional Atmospheric Brew (FAB) was born.”
A typical espresso shot of coffee at most cafes is extracted at 9 bar pressure. This means that 9 times atmospheric pressure is used to force water through the coffee to extract all coffee compounds to produce an espresso shot.
With FAB he is introducing water to ground coffee at a fraction of atmospheric pressure. “This slower, more gentle, introduction of water means that water has a longer, subtler contact time with the coffee,” he says. “The controlled flow of water means that we are seeing a smoother and cleaner cup of coffee produced that develops and gets sweeter as it cools.”
Andrews may be closer to his coffee holy grail, but is the ordinary customer coming along for the ride.
“There is definitely an interest by the consumer when it comes to the complexity of coffee, given that it plays such an important role in many people’s day-to-day routines, but I’d have to say that interest is generally not there when they are after their early morning caffeine fix,” he says.
“However, we often find that we are able to engage in deeper discussions with our customers when they have time to sit for a while and chill.
We like to try and take them on a journey of discovery and often will encourage them to try a coffee that they would not normal pick.”
The café now often brews a number of FABs for a customer each with a slight variation in the recipe. This allows the customer to identify what flavour profiles are best suited to their individual palate.
“It’s not unusual to hear a customer come to our counter and ask for an Ethiopian FAB with 11.5 grams of coffee. We are now tailoring coffee to suit individual needs,” he says.