Menus, Macchiatos and Mullaghmore, With Noah Lane
Foam. is Bundoran’s most charming new cafe.
Happiness is finding your niche and snuggling in.
Some aim for the tallest high-rise, and some for something a little more modest and pure. Noah Lane—a Sunshine Coast transplant who’s developed a penchant for dense Irish waves since falling in love with a local girl—has carved a slice for himself by importing his nation’s love of grinding bean, blended it with local produce and friends (Gerald Arbuckle and Adam Cross), and opened Foam, a charming new cafe in Bundoran, one of the most wave-rich towns on Ireland’s stunning West Coast. I tip my cap to anyone leading a unique existence and contributing to coastal communities, so I dialled Noah from Colombia to talk menus, macchiatos and Mullaghmore.
What does your barista do on their day off? (Photo by Al Mackinnon)
I worked in one of my best friends’s cafe for a couple of years and have seen what a slog running one is. Crazy hours, back-bending graft, and even in you’re pumping the profit goes straight back into produce and paying staff. Still, nothing like that beer shared on the stoop after a day in the trenches with your friends.
Noah’s on the way to see Foals in Dublin with his girlfriend (a three hour drive from the west coast) when I call. It’s the end of June, peak season in the coastal parts of the UK and Ireland, so I’m surprised he’s taking a night off and missing the morning on the pipes.
“From the start we wanted it to be fun and flexible,’ Noah tells me from the car. ‘We’re not surgeons, it’s a cafe. If the waves are good or there’s gigs we want to see we’re definitely going to make sure we can still enjoy ourselves.”
It’s a beautiful thing.
Long have cafe’s serving quality coffee and healthy fare lined the streets of Fitzroy and Surry Hills, but it’s taken a while for us to persuade our European cousins to accept our most famous export (apart from coal). They’re ‘mad for it’ now though, and Noah talks fondly of combining elements from his birth-land and adopted home.
“I think that modern cafe culture’s definitely an Australia thing,” Noah says. “But there’s a thriving little coffee scene now in Dublin and parts of the UK.’ If you’re not a coffee nerd then tune out now, but Noah goes on to tell me that the coffee they use is from an independent roaster from Dublin called Cloud Picker. “We all really liked the guys who own it and they do some interesting coffees,” Noah explains.
Post summer pouring ristrettos Noah’s going to be straight back into filming projects like Andrew Kaineder’s excellent Beyond the Noise.
I ask how the some of the locals and tourists interact with specialty coffee, and Noah explains that they’re careful to toe the line between being interesting, and wanky. “If we had really funky coffee on the west coast then people might shit themselves,’ Noah jokes. “But we’re not naive, and we’re not experts either. Even just using scales is interesting to people. Education sounds pretentious, it’s more just gradually introducing the concept. It allows people to understand why things taste the way they do, and it’s as much about us learning as anything.”
Now that’s a post-surf feed.
With the food Noah says that the focus is on good local produce, and giving back to the community.”We wanted it to be fast, healthy and seasonal,” he says. “There’s a strong local support for local farmers and produce and that’s part of the ethos.” Adding, “It is rewarding when you see people appreciate the food and that it’s come from where you are. Julian (Farmer) is a really good chef and he’s creating food that’s unique to the area.”
“Chris McClean did the branding,” Noah says when I compliment it. “He’s an amazing designer and filmmaker and we actually make a magazine – Backwash – together.”
Café hours aren’t ideal for surfers (I spent more time drinking beer on the step post 4pm knock off than sneaking out for a late surf) but Noah says Bundoran’s perfect as peak tourist season rarely yields any serious surf.
Speaking of serious surf, Noah’s put out some incredible footage from the West Coast over the past few winters (this session alone is surely worth a few months grinding bean) which is remarkable considering he grew up between Rainbow Beach and Burleigh.
Certified convert. (Photo by Gary McCall)
Noah describes the variety of waves in the region as ‘perfect stepping stones’ in learning to surf heavy waves breaking on shallow rock shelves. The top of the pyramid being Mullaghmore. “When I first went there I was like ‘Nup!'” Noah tells me. “But it’s that constant exposure to it that draws you in. The first time I paddled out I didn’t catch a wave, now I get excited every time there’s waves. It’s so intense and unique, and there’s an awesome local crew who are really dedicated to it which is cool.”
If they can avoid the temptation of an afternoon ale then this is how the boys wash off the coffee stench.
Ask Australians abroad what they miss and half of them will say coffee, but Noah evidently doesn’t have that problem. When I ask him what he misses about home he pauses for a moment and says, “Probably just trees actually. Big squiggly gums,” and for a moment I felt a little homesick.
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