In an alleyway off Manners, David Lamason and his coffee boys are spreading the good word of siphon in the capital. His eponymous brew bar Lamason has been at the forefront of the rise in alternative coffee methods, broadening Wellingtonians' horizons past the flat whites and long blacks of yore since its opening in 2011.
Before this review goes any further, I feel as though it would be helpful to define 'brew bar'. The coffee indubitably defines the place – while cafés often give equal footing to both food and drink, a brew bar is unashamedly caffeinated at its core. Its baristas are fuelled on the stuff, and often take a more technical view on the art of coffee. Different methods of brewing, different beans, different flavour profiles – there's a lot to learn for both the haute coffee snob and the newbie caffeine groupie alike. While food or other drinks may be on offer, the coffee itself far outshines anything else in the brew bar's edible repertoire.
But I digress, back to Lamason.
The only features differentiating it from the neighbouring apartment buildings and industrial commercial spaces are a dynamic set of red window frames and some light wooden panelling. Even though its tucked under a parking building, the space manages to stay light and fresh, with its plate glass front, siphon art on the door and an industrial but still warm aesthetic. Scattered seating outside and a smattering of tables indoors provides just enough space for the bar's loyal following – you feel like one of a privileged few who actually know about the place.
The bar spans the length of the interior, with a 3 group La Sanmarco 80's Chrome machine at one end screeching out espressos and the impressive four-siphon bar at the other. Imported from Japan, the bank of HARIO gold and wood siphons are impressive to watch. The bar also offers V60, although the siphon is the centrepiece of their operation. Also on hand in the culinary arena are Catering Studio baking, a shelf of Six Barrel Sodas and Booch fermented kombucha teas, and a daily toastie flavour.
Special mention must go to the siphons – Lamason makes around 200 siphon coffees a week. On the advice from David, the barista, I went for two siphons of wildly different flavour profiles. The Ethiopian Gedeo was rife with fruity tones – sweet grape and strawberry cohabitated with hints of rose. The Mexican Chiaras, on the other hand had a deeper and more rounded chocolatey flavour. The flavour also developed after each cup which added to the experience. Another interesting thing to try is their deconstructed flat white – super creamy Zany Zeus organic milk and a double shot poured into a carafe.
Lamason is a wonderful addition to the brew bar scene making siphon converts of any who try it.