Jai Pyne spent a good seven years as frontman of (arguably) one of Australia’s best indie bands – The Paper Scissors. Now that band is done and dusted, he’s allowing another passion to shine through. We caught up with Jai to talk all about his newish Sydney cafe Fleetwood Macchiato, located in inner-city Erskineville, and his love affair with everyone’s favourite pick me up.
You were formally the frontman of The Paper Scissors. What inspired the career change from music to hospitality?
Well, basically the whole time I was in The Paper Scissors I was working in hospitality, and I have been since I was 15 or so.
Towards the end of the band, we were all growing a bit tired of the music industry and the way it works and we just felt like the band had reached its logical conclusion.
For the last few years I’d been working as a barista trainer for The Golden Cobra, a small roaster from Sydney, and my then boss hatched a plan to start a little espresso bar, which I got involved in. We got another friend of ours on board who has run cafes forever and ended up finding a great site – a few months later we were open.
Tell me a little bit about the location of the cafe and how you came to acquire the building.
The site was formerly a cafe called The Kick Inside and had recently closed its doors. Dave, my business partner, had been in touch with the landlord of the building before The Kick Inside had opened and we dug out his details. It’s in Erksineville, in inner-west Sydney. It’s a really nice suburb: lots of young families, young people, nice older people, tradies, uni students and a big gay community. In fact, we’re right down the road from The Imperial, one of Sydney’s oldest drag pubs. It’s a nice mix of people. It keeps the days interesting when you have all sorts of people.
You have a whole menu for coffee. Where do you source your blends and what feeds your passion?
Our coffee menu is curated lovingly by The Golden Cobra. Dave (who owns a third of Fleetwood and is also the owner of The Cobra) sources beans from brokers. With Fleetwood, it gives him a chance to try out some new things and indulge a little as we are heavily focused on coffee. So he can run some very special single origins and blends with nicer beans than places that are more about the bottom line.
Our passion, I suppose, comes from just being around coffee forever. I still remember drinking stove tops with my dad when I was starting to drink coffee. Then moving into my teens, I really fell in love with making coffee, and later moving to Sydney, I slutted myself around the cafes to learn as much as I could about coffee and hospitality.
What inspires the food you guys serve?
Our chef, Lachlan Peachey, orchestrates the menus. He is really inspired by fresh seasonal produce, which sounds like a bit of a cliche these days, but he is also really concentrated on European food. He takes a lot of hints from simple produce based cooking, especially Italian food. Then he applies beautiful, elegant touches to it with techniques that he’s learned working in fine dining and also just eating in great restaurants and trawling as much info as he can on food.
What are your tips for making the perfect cup of coffee?
At home, the best thing you could do is buy a grinder. If you have freshly ground beans, the flavour is so much better. If you’re on a budget, buy a little Porlex or Hario handmill and then get a Aeropress. For under $100 you could be making beautiful coffee with whatever delicious beans you choose.
Fleetwood Macchiato are at 43 Erskineville Rd, Erskineville, NSW, Australia.