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From barrister to barista

PHUKET: Australian master coffee roaster Danny Hyams hopes to make his passion an island-wide obsession.

By Claire Connell

Monday 7 May 2012, 01:10PM

Danny Hyams.

Danny Hyams.

His newly opened Garage Café in Kamala is a tribute to his love of the bean, which began while living on a kibbutz in Israel at the age of 18. He returned to the country at the age of 23 for a four year stint, including one year spent in the Israeli Army. It was during this time he first drank Turkish coffee.

Arriving back in Australia, Hyams completed his law degree and began working as a civil and immigration lawyer, all the while becoming increasingly interested in the nation’s coffee scene.

In the late 1990s he purchased a small espresso machine and grinder, at a time when the price of coffee-making equipment was beginning to become affordable to the general public.

“The smell, the texture – I was obsessed and wanted to learn more,” says Hyams.
The self taught barista trawled the internet for information about coffee, eventually completing a few courses.

He decided to move to Phuket nearly four years ago, about a year and a half after the death of his wife. She was Thai, and it had been their dream to eventually one day return to Thailand.

“I wanted a change of scenery and I was keen on the lifestyle.”

He worked as a lawyer in Phuket before deciding to “give it a bash” selling his own roasted and ground coffee beans about a year ago.

Oak Maedow Phuket

Business has gone well, leading him to open Garage Café in Kamala last month.

“Once you’ve roasted coffee it’s got a life on it, and that’s what most people don’t understand. Coffee beans have a life of more than one year, roasted beans of around three weeks, and ground coffee of around three minutes.”

Hyams believes the four key points to making good coffee are having fresh coffee beans, a good commercial grinder, a good coffee machine, and the skills to operate it.

At Garage, he currently uses Arabica coffee, from northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai regions, and also some blends from imported coffees. The Thai Arabica coffee has a great “chocolatey” after-taste, which appeals to most people’s taste, he says.

“People have a right to expect good, fresh coffee, but it is hard if they’ve never had fresh coffee before, they don’t know any better. I’m hoping to carve a niche for people who are real coffee lovers.”

Garage, 74/25, Moo 3, Kamala (close to the Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation office), 080-534-5512; facebook.com/GarageCafeKamala. Open daily 8.30am-6pm. Most coffees B50-B90.

Starting next week, Danny will be writing a monthly coffee column exclusively for The Phuket News.

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