Monday, 24 February 2014

Gumption by Coffee Alchemy

Scores:
Coffee: 17/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 33/40

Okay nerds, I’ve had a few people tweet at me and say what’s that Coffee Alchemy in the city like? Well in short, it’s good.

A wet Sunday finds me trudging out of Darlinghurst and into the city. I get a lot of work done in cafes and this Sunday finds me with work to do. To cheer myself up from a Sunday workload I went ahead and grabbed a coffee at Gumption.

Found in the Strand Arcade, Gumption is down the western end (George Street) of the arcade. Much like the mother ship in Marrickville, this is not a coffee and snack (or tea) kind of place, just and only coffee.

The pouring rain has discouraged city shoppers so at 1:30pm the café (and city in general) is pretty quite. I head into the store and ordered a latte. The coffee came out quickly with some optional banter from the staff member.

First thing you’ll like is they put effort into their coffee here (you’d hope) but they are not faultless, latte art was impressive, but not quite there, still a great looking coffee.

Texture is something we nerds often bang on about the coffee, but whether through skill, luck or chance Gumption has stumbled on something else touch. The texture of the glass, so often forgotten, was interesting. The heavy set lines of the glass added a slightly different elements to the experience.

The coffee had a distinct nutty and ashy aroma and first sip was that of a rich and delicate dark chocolate, balanced against a simple but pronounced nutty flavours. The most enjoyable thing about the coffee is that the flavour of the lasts and lasts.

Letting it sit brings out the dark chocolate flavours, and further pounces the nutty after taste something I’d recommend you’d check out.

Just before I left I went in to get an espresso. Look, lets not kid ourselves, you don’t come to Alchemy for a latte.Stepping inside the store the staff were charming with the barista, bring over the espresso with a glass of water.

I did not catch what the girl at the counter said, but I picked up it could have been a single origin Bolivia coffee (forgive me if I’m wrong). The espresso was divine, sweet, and bright with sharp citrus like flavour that just floats in the mouth.

Overall, it’s a lovely space and continues the Alchemy love affair with worship of the bean. It’s a minimalist shop that suits the space, with clean lines and use of a traditional colour pallet. The modern benches in the middle of the arcade provide a fantastic people watching space, which is enjoyable if you're in need of a distraction. And hey let's not forget the coffee, which is good, very good, just don’t be a fool and get a latte like I initially did, get an espresso and enjoy one of the best CBD (/Sydney) options.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10

Experience (taste and smell): 9/10 (espresso > latte)
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Coffee total: 17/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): 1940s coffee temple
Cool?: 8/10
Service: 8/10
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Cafe: 16/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 33/40


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Gumption by Coffee Alchemy on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Fragrance Coffee Lab

Scores:
Coffee: 15/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 32/40
Bean: Allpress

Fragrance Coffee Lab is the local café you wish you had around the corner. Otherwise known as that tiny corner café on Crown Street, it’s likely likely the most charming café you’ll visit this week.

Found on the corner of Crown and Liverpool streets, you’ll spot the café by the people sitting on the tiny tables on the footpath scattered on both streets. Walking in, Fragrance is a bit of an inner city oasis, jazz is often the music on the go, the sandwiches is made fresh and coffee smell floating about dark but charming interior.

Charming as it may be, most of its patrons (myself included) stop in for the coffee. Reading a host of reviews and talking to other locals, it’s the consistency of the bean’s caramel (Allpress) flavour mixed with the consistency of the barista behind the La Marzocco coffee machine makes it a standout.

The coffee is best had black (and better short), where you can fully enjoy the full bodied, slightly acidic , very caramel like flavours. The aroma of the coffee is smoky and sweet. It’s easy to see how this bean by Allpress is clashing with Campos and Toby’s Estate as one of the classic Sydney roasts of the coffee world.

The service on this late summer morning was as normal - efficient, charming and polite. From order to sitting down the coffee was with me within a few minutes. I grabbed on this occasion grabbed a late breakfast sandwich and this was made bespoke, from fresh ingredients (some growing in the store) rather than pre made crap.

Overall, it’s a wonderful spot and well worth the visit if you're having an explore around Darlinghurst. The café is, as I said above is a wonderful escape and really fits into what you’d expect from a Darlinghurst café experience. The coffee is the best execution of Allpress Carmelo I’ve had to date.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10
Experience (taste and smell): 7/10
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Coffee total: 15/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Inner-east Korean hipster's cafe
Cool?: 8/10
Service: 9/10
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Cafe: 17/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 32/40



Fragrance Coffee on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Don Campos

Scores:
Coffee: 18/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 34/40

A second café I'm sure you've tried but I've failed to get to, until today, Don Campos in Alexandria is a café I've been meaning to get to for years.

The café, if you read other reviews of places like I do, has not been in the press much over the last year. Most reviews describe it (back in 2011) as an empty, chilled space with stunning coffee. Today the room on a Saturday is buzzing with not one counter but three. More like a hawker market then a cafe, it’s a shared space to grab a coffee at one place and some bread at the next.

The line for a coffee was long but in true Campos style very efficient. I ordered by second macchiato of the morning and took a seat along one of the long windows.

I only had time to read part of the front page of the SMH before it had appeared before me. Presented on the classic Campos brown saucer (that everyone seems to use these days) and in a small glass – built for the purpose. I often get accused of being a coffee wanker (or worse) for judging presentation, but if you check out the wonderful coffee by Brickfields here and this one, Campos IMO does it better with the same drink. It is just preference though, feel free to disagree.

The espresso was made on the House Blend.

The aroma’s initial flavour was that of a roasted almost like a baked peach (caramelised honey notes) but I’d describe it as fruity rather than really locate one sort of fruit to the flavour.

Tasting it, it is smooth, balanced in the mouth, with a wonderful full rolling taste, the fruity smell was further sweetened by something like butterscotch. All in all a very nice taste, if anything I’d describe it as pastry like in taste.

Letting it cool, brought out the caramelised butterscotch flavours initially and it finished with a something a bit floral like lingering right in the back of my nose as a swallow it. Very cool.

I could not help it and got a second mac made on the single origin Colombia Montero Winning Lot#11. This was far more a citrus based bean, then the first very full of flavour and quite heavy in the mouth. Letting this drink sit hypes up the acidity and vanilla and caramel sugar like flavours. It’s a bit of a dirtier drink, but I’d not describe it as simple. Well worth the second coffee. And well worth leaving it to sit for a min or two to experience the strong contrast.

Today, the links to Campos Newtown while still in place are not the reason why people come here. Don Campos is a destination unto itself that holds itself well against Newtown sister. There is a genuine creative life to the warehouse space and that in on itself as a coffee nerd makes a trip well worth the experience. The coffee is as wonderful as the Newtown flagship and espresso options far more the creative and fun. The staff here are far friendlier and more open to stupid coffee questions then their Newtown brothers and sisters, and its clear (like Newtown) that if you’re a regular they'll remember you, your order and what you last talked about.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 9/10
Experience (taste and smell): 9/10
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Coffee total: 18/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like):
Cool?: 8/10
Service: 8/10
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Cafe: 16/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 34/40


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Don Campos on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Brickfields

Scores:
Coffee: 16/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 33/40

I’m a little bit late to the Inner-West party. This morning I hit up somewhere where I’m sure you’ve already been, Brickfields. Located in a cul-de-sac right near the corner of Abercrombie and Cleveland.

If you get here when I did, there is a bit of healthy weekend chaos to the place. Staff members are killing it rushing around to customers who are milling all over the place. As I came in a couple left and there was a second of guild before I grabbed their corner seat.

Ordering is done up at the counter and the line moves quickly. Brickfields is a bakery and it’s likely you’d be sucked into ordering something other than coffee on the menu, I did, and it’s hard not to with the smell of baking bread floating around.

The coffee arrived pretty quickly considering the quantity of people. Macchiato come presented in an egg white espresso cup. They don’t do much fancy with the milk, but then again it’s hard to do much with so little. The if I’m getting really picky the milk looked a little rough, however as for café economics, it’s unlikely they’d head milk just for a macchiato.

The coffee’s aroma was a wonderful smoky, fruity smell with acidic notes to it. The taste of the coffee was like the aroma, rich, juicy and a little earthy. Enjoy the smoky tendrils floating their way up from your mouth up into your nose. As you’d hope there is a bit of lingering acidity to the Mecca beans.

Enjoy your time lingering here, if you don’t mind the guilt of taking up a demanded seat, watching customers is half the fun of the place - uni students stressing about exams, hipsters with stylishly messy beards all ordering tiny drinks and eating wonderful bread it’s a café for the new gentrified Chippendale.

Overall, it’s a café well worth the excursion of your looking for an inner west café run (close to café Gulia if you’re looking for a good double). The coffee is wonderful, food far too tempting and to be frank irresistible and atmosphere very cool.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 7/10
Experience (taste and smell): 9/10
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Coffee total: 16/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like):
Cool?: 9/10
Service: 8/10
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Cafe: 17/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 33/40


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Brickfields on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Random: Twelve Cups, Penang

Hyper smooth and balanced coffee with a very delicate aroma hinting at spices and slight earthiness.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Royal of Darlinghurst

Scores:
Coffee: 14/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 28/40

While hispters maybe going the way of emos, fear not my awkward friends hope is still at hand with some hipster cafes still living strong in the heartland.

This morning finds Nerd 2 and I walking around Darlinghurst looking for a café (on the Sunday right after New Years), we find it surprisingly hard to find a place which is open. Having walked past 4 closed placed we eventually hit Darlinghurst road to the quaint people-watching mecca of The Royal of Darlinghurst.

The Royal (café) Darlinghurst, not to be confused with The Royal (pub) in Darlington, is the perfect ironic place you can chill at for hours. Service is slow and relaxed, music chilled and only interrupted by personal phone calls (they use their iPhones as the DJ) and food as noted by a few other blogs as delicious.

Positioned on Darlinghurst Road, right on the intersection of Liverpool Street, the café has a steady stream of locals sitting on the street (for the people watching) or grabbing their coffee from the takeaway window.

Initially we grabbed a street side seat, however noting that service was a little on the flustered side (and we were right on the edge) we quickly moved to an inside table as it opened up. With our new table we had our drink (latte + organic lemonade) and food orders taken, pretty quickly.

Coffee came out quickly, typical glass presentation and a nice off sharped heart art work happening. And quick from the machine, with the coffee still settling as it was put down. Initial take on the coffee was positive.

The heat of the coffee was high, I’d not like to see it any hotter. Due to the heat the aroma of the drink was a little pale. The Royal use their own blend, roasted by Little Marionette roasters, so not really smelling much was a bit of a downer.

A great looking Smashed Eggs meal arrived distracting me from the coffee and the café patrons - a guy wearing new fluro blue Nikes with large woollen socks (super odd combination, thanks inner city hipsters for breaking all the frontiers).

Back to the coffee the taste like the smell was a little paled by the heat. Letting it steep though brought out a quite nutty (a hazelnut nut taste perhaps?) and spicy tasting drink, well worth letting it cool.

Overall, if you’re a hipster in need of a place to feel at home, a person walking around on the first Sunday of the New Year and struggling to find somewhere good to get a coffee, or most importantly someone who values good food at a great price, with coffee with high potential, The Royal should be on your list.


Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10
Experience (taste and smell): 6/10
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Coffee total: 14/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Darlinghurst hipster heaven.
Cool?: 9/10
Service: 5/10
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Cafe: 14/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 28/40


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The Royal on Urbanspoon
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