Coffee is only one of the reasons why engineer and travel photographer Chris Varghese is on our radar.
As a well-seasoned traveller who has spent over a decade capturing foreign destinations, Chris’s pursuit of his second love—coffee—saw him receive the title of Australia’s top office barista in 2019.
When we arrived at Chris’s home in Croydon North, at the foot of Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges, it wasn’t a surprise to discover that it’s his love of experimenting with process and its contribution to the final result that unites his passions.
“Travel photography gives me the opportunity to freeze a moment forever — then make it look as similar as to how I saw it.”
Chris shoots using cameras of all shapes, sizes and formats however his failsafe is a Nikon D600, accompanied by a variety of portable lenses for on-the-go versatility. Once he’s captured the right shot, his process involves meticulously balancing each photo to capture the emotion of the destination, before the final pay-off of sharing his beautifully crafted imagery with friends and family.
Having been introduced to Melbourne’s buzzing café scene by his partner Jasmine, he’s no stranger to some of the best roasteries in Australia. In fact, it was her passion for the drink that inspired him to get to grips with each stage of the coffee-making process, from farm to cup.
As a trained engineer, Chris is a tinkerer at heart. The classic body of his GS3 has been given an aesthetic refresh, incorporating dark blue powder-coated metalwork and hand-finished wooden panels, which are littered with stickers from roasters that he has encountered on his travels.
A side-mounted steam wand comes in handy when making his daily coffee while also showing some love to Toby, his rescued border collie who steals as many pre-commmute pats before the workday begins.
The latest addition to his at-home coffee set-up is a pair of espresso cups purchased as mementos from Kyoto-based coffee roaster Kurasu while on a recent visit to Japan.
“Japan is an amazing country that’s incredibly vibrant. You get city life but at the same time you can turn off and experience really stunning landscapes.”
Through his lens, Japan’s cacophony of streets, landscapes, temples and people provided infinite opportunities for capturing new sights, many of which are yet to be edited as final keepsakes.
Before we leave, we’re treated to a brief visit to Chris’s home studio where every piece of equipment comes with a story about where it came from and the part it’s played in his creative journey. For some, the devil might be in the details but for this creative experimenter, the peace is found in the process.
“I’ve done some minor coffee machine surgeries here and there, as well as my own maintenance and servicing. It puts me at peace.”