A popular question we get asked is 'who is behind Omar and the Marvellous Coffee Bird' and 'How did the business come about?'. So here is a brief history of the two co-founders and how Omar and the Marvellous Coffee Bird was born.
Andy Gelman started by making coffee in 2003 at a 250 seat Cafe Greco on Chapel Street, Melbourne. An average shift would involve 700-800 cups of coffee. The quality of coffee was low, but Cafe Greco had very strict standards of milk texturing. Unfortunately, a lot of cafes have a similar focus on milk, rather than coffee. The high volume at Cafe Greco trained Andy to be consistent in a high pressure environment. After working there and at various other cafes around Melbourne, he eventually found himself working at a café in St Kilda called INKR 7, where Dean was working at the time. This was the first time the two had met and quickly developed a solid working relationship. A few months after this chance meeting, Dean opened his first cafe called Rupert and the Fig, in Brighton. Andy moved over to work with Dean at Ruperts and this is where their coffee journey began.
Andy worked with Dean at Rupert’s for five years whilst moonlighting at other jobs. Andy helped with the the roasting at Icoco in Albert Park, which was one of the first roasting cafes on the Melbourne scene. It was a small, locally minded shop that produced some beautiful coffee. It was a real inspiration to both Dean and Andy and showed them how good coffee could be. Andy then roasted with Andrew Kelly at Auction Rooms, when they were initiating their roasting operation.
Whilst coffee roasting was their main goal they felt a cafe attached to the business would be a great way for them to show off the coffees they had sourced and roasted. It took Dean and Andy two long years to find the right location for the business.
Queue 124 Gardenvale Rd, Gardenvale. It had the corner location, tall ceilings, huge boxed sky light, character and most importantly, it was on the south side of the city. Dean and Andy engaged the creative team at March Studios to design the space and they didn't disappoint. The design is a major talking point and draw card with the tables fabricated to roll on tracks and the whole bar built into Dexion pallet racking, using ply boxes for storage and bench tops. Smart, utilitarian, and industrial.
As for the name, they wanted something fun, not too stiff and serious. Dean and Andy did a lot of research on the history of coffee and realised there wasn’t much scientific evidence about the discovery of coffee. The lack of solid evidence has given rise to popular fables depicting the discovery of the magical bean. One particular story the boys were enamoured with was of Sheikh Omar, based on the Abd-al-Kadir manuscript. See our previous Journal post for this story in full.
The boys love what they do at Omar's and are continually working on ways to empower and excite people with the stories behind the bean. They consider themselves students of the industry and their job is to get people excited about coffee and teach people how to make amazing coffee anywhere.