In Conversation: Josh Manitta of Path Melbourne
Nike's famed Air Jordan 1 has enjoyed cult status in just about every subculture since its first release almost forty years back in 1985. Whilst their icon status in the skate and streetwear scene is well-documented, the burgeoning hardcore scene of the 1980s also adopted Michael Jordan's silhouette as it sought to differentiate itself from dominant punk music.
As the Jordan 1 gets set to enter middle age, with it comes a more laid-back and refined attitude. With that in mind, with the forthcoming release of a Jordan 1 Low homage to the OG metallic blue we took the time to chat with friend of UP THERE Josh Manitta.
With a professional musical career spanning over 15 years—playing with Australian hardcore bands Carpathian, Outsiders Code, Warbrain and Born Free—Josh pursued a newfound passion for specialty coffee when he and his partner Ash opened an intimate brew bar named Path. Quickly establishing a reputation for exquisite and exclusive WORD, Path has become a must-visit location for those chasing a unique experience in coffee.
UP THERE: Firstly thanks for taking the time to chat. Could you introduce yourself, who you are and what you do.
My name’s Josh—I own and operate Path with my partner Ash, which is a brew bar and coffee roaster in North Melbourne. We’ve been running since 2022 focussed on providing our customers unique single-origin coffee sourced from across the world.
On top of that, I’ve also been playing hardcore and punk bands both local and internationally for almost 20 years.
I think it’s fair to say most of us have an affinity to music but would you consider yourself to be a musical person growing up?
Yeah definitely, my whole family was into music—my mum was listening to Kiss and ACDC and in terms of my brothers—we all played music at a young age. I think the biggest influence was my older brother. He was definitely ahead of the curve, listening to all sorts of alternative music. I was listening to a lot of his music in primary school, we’re talking bands like Pantera, Machine Head, Fear Factory—pretty heavy stuff. He actually got me into drums but when my younger brother started playing drums as well, we thought ‘we can’t all be playing drums’ so I ended up picking up the guitar instead.
What first inspired you to start making your own music?
I’ve always found it difficult to not be a part of something that I liked—whether it’s sports, music or coffee—in that sense it was inevitable once I started going to punk and hardcore shows as a kid that I would want to make my own music.
When my brothers and I started going to shows we were like ‘that’s what we want to do’. We weren’t happy just being a fan or playing for fun—we wanted to be a part of it.
Hardcore has always had a very distinct dress code, some of which have found their way to the high-fashion runway in the past few years. What do you think has been the driving force behind that?
I think a lot of subcultures have always been ahead of the curve in some ways. Whether it’s punk, hardcore or skateboarding—there tends to be a cycle where trends are adopted within the scene and then the mainstream catches on. In that sense it’s almost like pre-trend where a shoe, jacket or style of pant starts to grow in the scene before it moves up the chain to the more mainstream trends. By the time that happens the scene has moved on and the cycle repeats.
The Jordan 1 was prevalent in the early days of hardcore—along with skate and street style the AJ1s found their way into the scene. Do you have thoughts on what made them appealing?
Hardcore felt like a scene for people who were into punk music but didn’t necessarily get into the style or act like a stereotypical punk. Hardcore style almost feels like a more refined idea of punk, so in that way the clean lines of the Jordan 1 fit that form. You wouldn’t necessarily expect to see punks moving around in Jordans but with hardcore it suited the whole look and vibe a lot more. It also makes sense when you consider hardcore’s roots in New York—the AJ1 is a very New York sort shoe.
I know for me—having grown up without much money as a kid—the first time I was able to save up money in my teens to get a pair of Jordans it was a big deal. The problem then became how I could keep them clean even when I’d be playing shows and scuffing them up…
On face value hardcore music and specialty coffee seem like different ends of the spectrum, what made you start thinking about coffee as more than a source of caffeine?
I think going back to what I said about making music, there’s always this desire to be more involved in something I love. With the music I did also have this thought of “what else am I going to do with my life” which can be a scary question when you’ve dedicated your life to one thing. With the coffee side of things, I felt like I could see myself doing it.
I found there was quite a few similarities between my experience in music and what we do with Path. The same perfectionism that I had when it came to music transferred over to the specialty coffee scene pretty well. The feeling I get from people who come to Path, enjoy the experience and see the creativity in what we do is the same feeling I get from people that enjoy the music I’ve been making for years.
Why did you decide to go out on your own and start Path?
I’ve been touring since I was 17 and I didn’t really come into coffee until quite a bit later in life compared to other people. It was when we were touring Europe one time that I really started to understand the breadth and depth to the world of coffee and began seeking out specialty experiences.
When we came back to Australia I got my first job in a coffee shop and started from the bottom of the barrel washing dishes. Spending time around coffee doing that I’d eventually start to bug the barista and ask them why they were doing certain things until one day years later you’re the one up the front running the show.
How have you found the whole process of running your own place compared to when you were working for other people?
Balancing the creative aspects and responsibilities has definitely been difficult and it’s taken lots of time to get used to, but it’s important for me to do both. Thankfully we have an incredible team, whether it’s my partner Ash who is handling just as much as me or Blue who’s here full time to look after the shop. Without the help of everyone here I don’t think it would be possible and with that comes a lot of responsibility. We’re not just looking after ourselves anymore, there’s people depending on us.
Have you found it hard to find time for music with all the new responsibility?
We essentially have two businesses now between the shop itself and the coffee roasting operation so as a result music has taken a bit of a back seat. Right now Path has a lot of momentum behind it and for that reason it’s been taking up a lot of my focus right now.
I don’t see there ever being a time where I’m not writing music or playing in bands, but with all of this extra responsibility you find yourself needing to be more efficient with your time. When something makes you happy like music does for me, it’s really important to keep that a part of your life and find the time.
How does the creative process usually go for you? Would you say that you have any habits or quirks when you’re creating?
Yeah 100% I have quirks, haha!
I think he way I approach coffee and music is quite similar in that way—I tend to run with a feeling and just need to get it out into the world before taking the time to assess it all.
I’m quite insular when I’m creating—often to the frustration of the people around me. There will be times when my partner Ash will ask me about something I’ve with the coffee roast and I can’t say much else other than ‘I dunno it was just a vibe that I had’. Spending so much time in bands definitely taught me to be a bit more open with my process, but I’ll still find myself sitting on the train or tram alone singing riffs into my phone or tinkering away with a roast late at night.