The coffee scene in Melbourne, Australia is much different than that of SoCal. There, it’s much more geared towards specialty coffee, with almost no large chains, and many, many more independent coffee shops and boutique roasters. “A lot less laptops and more table service,” Common Room Roasters founder and head roaster Ed Moffatt explains.
A coffee aficionado since high school, the Australian brewer teamed up with friend, fellow Aussie, and CRR co-owner Jeremy Creighton to bring a bit of that Aussie coffee taste and charm — not to mention, flat-whites — a hemisphere away, to Newport Beach, California.
The name, Common Room Roasters, which officially opened in March of 2017, borrows from the term “the common room” in school where students could hang out and have a communal space to enjoy — free of teachers and rules. And while we can’t be certain there are no teachers enjoying a cup of joe at CRR (we kid — teachers are more than welcome), it has definitely become a popular spot for locals to come meet, work, hang out, and of course, get their coffee fix — easy on the rules.
Moffatt, who has been working in the specialty coffee industry for almost 20 years, and who owned a successful cafe and brewery in Melbourne, moved his life and family to Orange County roughly two years ago to take on this new venture, focusing on specialty coffee with design, real hospitality and customer service.
Today, he takes great pride in the signature blend he’s created. Named after Melbourne’s most iconic coffee suburb, Brunswick, the beans are sourced from small farms and farming cooperatives around the world, carefully selected and roasted using expertise and state-of-the-art equipment. “Specialty coffee,” says Moffatt, “is the result of flawless execution at every stage of the process.”
He goes on, “We buy the highest quality green bean on the market and roast each bean delicately and deliberately. Our coffees are seasonal and maybe roasted a little lighter than some of the American roasters — but blended in a way that perfectly suits espresso drinks. We test each and every batch to make sure it’s right. That’s what you get with a good boutique roaster.”
Not here to start a competition, but more to create a movement to get specialty coffee shops in the mainstream (and Starbucks’ in yesterday’s news), CRR is happy to branch out and help other cafes with similar mindsets, expanding their wholesale portfolio in the meantime. The brand has made available their unique blend and has wholesale accounts all across Southern California, including hotspots like Venice Beach’s Gjusta and Costa Mesa’s Sidecar Doughnuts. In just a little less than a year they’ve become the cool kids on the scene, and not just for their location (600 yards from the ocean) and Aussie accents.
Much more than just another American coffee shop, Moffatt has created his cafe to be multi-faceted — equipped with a barista training lab, retail shop and cupping room used to test roasting profiles and bean quality. Additionally, inspired by Melbourne’s vibrant music scene, they’ve even rolled out a music night, #beansandbeats, to better engage with their community. Every Saturday, a local DJ from a surrounding record label will come in to spin live vinyl for customers. The sessions are recorded and then loaded on the CRR website so everyone (even mates across the globe) can enjoy. “We truly believe that good music makes coffee taste better,” laughs Moffatt.
It gets people off their laptops, too.