Barista Jason Chan, from Melbourne’s Batch Cafe

Jason ChanJason arrived in Australia from New Zealand in late 2003, armed with a degree in Physiology and Human Nutrition and a passion for making great coffee.

He had worked most of his University years for a local Dunedin coffee roaster, but it was Wellington’s boutique roaster, Coffee Supreme, that had sparked his interest in all things to do with coffee. He had heard that coffee was big in Melbourne, and for an up-and-coming NZ barista, it seemed a good place to come and try his hand.

When he arrived, Jason worked for a year at Ray’s in Brunswick and it was there that he began to carve out his reputation. Meanwhile, he was researching the market, with the intention of possibly starting up his own shop. In mid-2004, he found a likely location, and in July set up Batch, in Balaclava’s bustling Carlisle Street.

When pushed, he admits to being surprised that the standard of coffee isn’t a little higher in Melbourne; mostly, he finds a disappointing lack of consistency in the coffee here… ‘people love the tradition of coffee,  but maybe they’ve become a little complacent’ he says.

So what is it that makes him recognized as one of Melbourne’s top baristas, if not one of the top baristas in Australia? ‘It’s all about consistency’, he stresses. ‘It’s easy to make a great coffee now and again. But it takes real commitment to make a truly excellent espresso time-after-time’.

Jason believes you have to start with the right equipment. The first thing is his Robur grinder – he’s custom-mounted two cooling fans on it, to make sure that the coffee doesn’t overheat. Then there’s the coffee machine itself, obviously temperature stability is just as critical here. He uses a three-group La Marzocco. But whereas even this top-of-the-line unit can expect to deliver 2-3 deg. temperature variation, Jason has implanted thermometers in the groups and is continually venting. He estimates this gives him a maximum variation of 0.2 – 0.4 degrees!

He also believes in taking time to do things properly – for example, the milk for every milk-based coffee gets textured individually, instead of in bulk. ‘You need to slow down, to appreciate a good coffee’ says Jason. Maybe in this fast food age, we need a bit more of that sort of thinking.

What about Batch – how did it get its name?  ‘Originally, I had thought of naming it Bach (the NZ name for a shack, or holiday house) but I soon realized that no-one would understand it’ says Jason, smiling. ‘I had visions of people coming in and asking me if I was related to the composer’. He may not be a famous musician, but Jason Chan is definitely a maestro in the world of Australian coffee.

Go to our Cafe Reviews to read more on Batch…

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