It seems someone forgot to tell brothers Brian and Nolan Tang about the old adage ‘don’t go into business with family’. The entrepreneurial duo ignored the advice when they opened their first cafe, Workshop Bros, in Glen Huntly. After three hugely successful years, they looked to the next opportunity: a coffee-focused cafe in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
A quick squiz of Nolan’s resume reveals an atypical arrival to the coffee scene – he’s a qualified CPA with a background in investment banking and taxation. Brian, on the other hand, lives and breathes hospitality, having worked in family restaurants and cafes from a young age. A few years down the track, Joe La joined the brothers, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge from his experience in the hospitality sector.
For all three, coffee was where it all began. A simple beverage got them hooked and a quest for the perfect cup has inspired them ever since. The journey from crop to customer is one that the team monitors with minute detail and the intricate process involves many hours of education and attention.
Sourcing their beans from the well known Axil Coffee Roasters in Hawthorn, Workshop Bros has created a custom blend with notes of peaches and cream, milk chocolate and nuts. The blend is a combination of beans from Costa Rica and Ethiopia, roasted to create a well balanced cup with crisp acidity.
You’ll also find a large range of single origins on a rotational basis. Washed beans from Kenya offer sugarcane sweetness with notes of rhubarb, stewed fruit and dark chocolate, while the beans from Guatemala are clean and floral with fruity acidity and a hint of black tea.
Head Barista, Darren Nguyen, toils behind the machine and his passion for coffee can be tasted in each tailored cup. Darren is also joined by Manager, Fiona Chung, who ensures that every customer experience is a positive one. As well as your perfect espresso, Workshop Bros offers cold drip and iced coffees for those hot and steamy Melbourne days.
Whilst coffee is the main event, there are also a few nibbles to curb any hunger pangs. Opt for a toastie or avo on toast for brekky or choose from a rotating selection of sweet treats, including Doughboys Doughnuts, Penny for Pound pastries and scrolls from Oregano Bakery.
Award-winning designer, Hana Hakim of the Stella Collective, has transformed the small space into a bright, light-filled coffee stop, with signature textured circles as door handles and a small outdoor bench that allows for a perch in the fresh air. Inside, round chairs and tables match the custom timber handles on their white espresso machine.
Workshop Bros is doing things differently. Between the family ties, coffee focus and standout design, it’s leading the way in a new wave of cafes.