Sunday, 26 October 2014

Scala's - Sydney Market

Scores:
Coffee: 13/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 27/40

I've been critiqued for visiting places that are too 'wanky'. And look let's face it, inner city cafes are wanky places. If you're keen of escaping the Newtown/Darlinghurst/Bondi scene and people me (most of the year), head west.

This Saturday morning finds Nerd 2 and I at Sydney Markets, out near Olympic park. If you've never been to the sprawling marketplace, and you live in Sydney you should check it out. It is more or less the place you go to get fruit and veggies without the multiple middleman, often right off the back the farmer's truck. For my hipster comrades it's the Urban Harvest Collective without the Urban and Collective parts.

After a 6 or 7am shop (get here 730 at the very latest as the good stuff is gone) and having picked through multitudes of veggies, negotiating the cost of mint and Asian greens down and bought far more food than you have anticipated, it's time to start looking for a coffee. Let's face it you've been awake for 2+ hours and it's only 8am Saturday morning.

What is wonderful about the market, food aside, is the many generations of Australians who have played a role in establishing and using the marketplace. Europeans have played a big role in developing the market particularly Italians whose roots you can see in the stalls, banter, visitors and importantly for us the coffee.

I'm sure all regulars have a go to café on site, and I'm not sure I have the time nor Nerd2's patience with me to try them all. So, thanks to a recommendation we walked through the flower market to Scala.

Found, if your standing within at the Flower Markets in the direction away from the Food Markets, the cafe is like your Italian mate's grandparents opened a cafe.

Scala is beyond charming. Packaged pasta, olive oil, mineral water, coffee beans and tinned tomatoes line the walls. Dried and cured meat hands behind the counter and huge floral displays sit on the counters.

Walk into the organised chaos and grab a table. The ordering process, strangely suits the feel of the place, just wait at the counter a while (don't worry there is no wrong place to stand) and you'll undoubtedly look confused and the staff will sort you out.

I went a latte and the Italian omelette; Nerd2 went for a mineral water and strawberry ricotta pancakes (I had a tiny bit of breakfast envy in her order).

Both the food and coffee appeared reasonably quickly, brought over by a charming elderly man. The coffee was made and presented with no fuss. Look, I’ve gotten in trouble from cafe loyalists for making down no fuss coffees and the same will happen here, just thought I'd let you know.

The coffee, Molinari, had those classic flavours that you'd associated with an Italian style. The aroma was quite smoky, even through the heated milk and had some light hints of fruit balanced against some stronger milk chocolate flavours.

The initial taste found the espresso to be quite heavy in body and medium in acidity. The flavours of the roaster were initially quite prominent with the ashy flavours coming through quite strongly.

Let your coffee sit and let your table neighbours bring you into their shopping conversation (it'll happen). This waiting will allow the body of the coffee to strengthen and you'll find intensified chocolate flavours making it a satisfying milk coffee experience.

Overall, if you ever wished you had Italian grandparents this might be as close as you’ll ever get. The food is ridiculously generous and old school tasty, the coffee made with traditional thought and the overall experience, particularly if you add in the fact you've likely shopped at the market before hand, a great way to start an active Sydney weekend.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 5/10
Experience (taste and smell): 7/10
-----------
Coffee total: 13/20
-----------

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): An Italian supermarket
Cool/unique?: 8/10
Service: 6/10
-----------
Cafe: 15/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 27/40


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Brooklyn Hide

Scores:
Coffee: 15/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 28/40

A Saturday morning craving finds Nerd2 and I on a slow (but epic) walk from Darlinghurst to Surry Hills in search of a quality bagel. Yes, I hear you say bagels are everywhere around Sydney today with the American cafe food trend, but I was not after any old bagel.

Brooklyn Hide, found on Commonwealth Street close to Foveaux cross section, is a cafe about three things - cow's hide; bagels; and luckily for me coffee. Walk in, being sure not to wipe your shoes on the cowhide and grab a table along with your likely choice in bagel brunch.

For a Saturday of a long weekend, the cafe was busy but not hectic, but hey 10:30am in lower Surry Hills district is practically 7am for the rest of Sydney... except of course unless you're planning a breakfast at the always popular Reuben Hills.

As Little Marionette is the roaster at Brooklyn, short lattes are never a bad call. A Reuben like bagel (the midtown) and a latte was soon on its way. For Nerd2 a chai-latte and smoked salmon bagel (SOHO) was on the menu.

The crowd was mostly young, possibly hung over and there were a few morning after breakfasts going on. The relaxed staff, dark cafe colours and relaxed electro music worked with the crowd.

The latte, chai and two bagels soon made their appearance. The coffee was made with a casual leaf pour, the glass smaller than most would expect (a very good thing for the drink) and heat and proportions right.

The coffee's aroma was rich, punchy with a hint from both the smoky roaster and the dark chocolate bean. Taste wise it was a good drink with flavours mixing and punching through the milk well. I'd describe it as a mix of both dark chocolate and orange like flavours.

Nerd2 would also like to note the chai was fantastic drink, a nice well-balanced spicy and sweet drink. She'd recommend it for those who are coffee adverse.

Overall, it's a good choice for coffee, bagels and even chai. Brooklyn Hide, a 2013 establishment, was/is likely ahead of its time, with bagels and Americana being all rage. I loved my Reuben bagel and moreover enjoyed a coffee that was made to a relaxed high standard.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 7/10
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
-----------
Coffee total: 15/20
-----------

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Americana
Cool?: 7/10
Service: 6/10
-----------
Cafe: 13/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 28/40


Brooklyn Hide on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Ms. Miller

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

A trip over the bridge finds me in the leafy North Shore suburb of Cammeray. From what I assumed would be a boring suburban shopping strip there are actually a plethora of  cafe options open and buzzing on a Sunday. I made a random choice in destination and went into the second cafe I came across to see what the scene was like. Ms. Miller, was the cafe.

Ms. Miller, is an airy joint that feels more bar than café (which it also happens to be..) and as such far more youthful than the immediate similar options like Maggios - a cafe (which was ridiculously popular) across the small pedestrian road. There was flowing traffic in and out of Miller's so I managed to walk on in and grab a table as it opened up.

Part bar, part cafe it's easy to see that this is a cafe reflecting a younger growing suburb. Modern chilled out music, exposed brick walls, a specialty beer on tap and a cocktail menu that will appear on your table on the stroke of midday - far more your Crows Nest than a Mosman.

Service was fast and relaxed, everyone was ordering milk coffee around me so I followed suit and a latte was soon on its way.

The latte came over to me quickly, made on what I assume is their their own house roast (noted by the unbranded bags of coffee beans on the counter) the drink made a good first impression. Hot, simple leaf art and well proportioned.

The initial flavour was quite nutty, with some dark cocoa textures. I found the milk quite hot, although not burnt. Lower North Shore people are the kings and queens of ordering 'extra hot' (at least this is what I've found) so in response baristas often make hotter than average milk than the rest of the city.

Letting the latte sit lets the dark chocolate like flavours become a little punchier, you can certainly taste the sweeter notes to the bean with time.

Overall, it's a bloody relaxing cafe and one I was pleased to pick at random. With the spring weather hitting 27C  it is the open breezy cafes, like Ms. Miller that will get the crowd's vote - the chilled music and space between tables is just an added bonus. Top that with potentially a unique roast that has a nice balance between bitter and sweet and a slight punch to it, alongside some very chilled but attentive staff and it all makes a classic cafe for a suburb.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 7/10
Experience (taste and smell): 7/10
-----------
Coffee total: 14/20
-----------

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): A cool suburban bar
Cool?: 7/10
Service: 7/10
-----------
Cafe: 14/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 28/40


Ms. Miller on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Rupert and Ruby

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

Come to it before it goes. It’s tempting as a blogger to ignore a pop up spots that have a short life expectancy. Yellow House was one example, which I loved but sadly did not get around to writing about. Stanley Street Merchants is another, which I tried to review but could never get a table. And Rupert & Ruby is another pop up, which in this case I have!

I can't even begin to imagine how hard it is to run a pop-up restaurant / café/ bar. The ‘build it and they will come’ theory does not work in a competitive Sydney scene, you have to have a hook. And if you have the hook (limited time only + creative menu), how do you maximise your profit in 3 months for it to even work?

Nerd 2 and I popped into this new (almost old for the site) café for a Saturday breakfast, post a deadlift filled gym session. Walking in, there was a clear 11am Darlinghurst buzz to the place. It’s that morning Darlinghurst mix between people flirting with a wine list and those clearly steering towards the orange juice (nerd 2…).

The vibe was chilled, the café dark and famous cartoon dogs (Snowy and Santa’s Little Helper) painted on the walls, it’s my kind of place.

Coffee was first up, St. Ali was the bean on the grind and I stumbled through asking for a latte, much to the amusement of the staff member. Food wise if you're interested I went for a great scrambled eggs thing, nerd two a smoked salmon breakfast option, both delicious.

On St Ali Coffee for a second, is a bean that is increasing becoming Melbourne regular and signal that a café has got their shit together (think Campos/ Toby’s Estate a few years ago in Sydney). Its house blend is a lovely bean and seems to travel well. Their signature/house blend, which I assume R&R are using, is a good choice with milk.

In between having a whinge about my back post gym. The coffee came out (I’m sure to Nerd 2 relief), proportions of it excellent, style fantastic (love the spoon – very old school Double Roasters like), great ‘leaf’ design and colouring constancy nice.

The aroma of the drink was sweet - chocolate like, however a little more complex than just that.

Tasting wise it does have the pleasant sweet dark(ish) chocolate flavour but also something quite fruity (citrus/sour). Perhaps a mixture between an apple and cherry? A super easy drink with a bit of a bold kick to it.

The meals came and went and while I do not review food was interesting Americana like stuff. Well worth checking out.

Overall, it’s a great place (while it’s open). The food is top notch, the staff have a great attitude, the décor is stylish and most importantly for me the coffee within the Darlinghurst scene a total standout. Well good enough for me to want to check it out again. As I said, come to it, before it goes!

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 9/10
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
-----------
Coffee total: 17/20
-----------

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like):
Cool?: 8/10
Service: 8/10
-----------
Cafe: 16/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 33/40


Rupert & Ruby on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Toby's Estate (Sydney Airport) T2

Scores:
Coffee: 10/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 19/40

I love flying. The are a few things you can buy which really signal of possibility and opportunity more than jumping on a plane to somewhere amazing. The excitement of flying is something I've had since I was a kid and as Nerd 2 knows far too well, I like to get to the airport far too early just to savour the experience.

One thing I don't like about flying however, now I'm all grown up, is the coffee at the airport. Food at SYD airport has improved remarkably over the years (there is now more than just a McDonalds), however coffee options have in general continued its average trajectory.

Flying to MEL this morning I was excited to see a few new coffee options in T2. By scoping out the place quickly in the main food court (right after the security point) I spotted three options that looked okay (maybe even good), Brasserie Bread (seem to have coffee in something other than paper cups although questionable coffee), Toby's Estate and the other place, whose name I have forgotten [ sorry!] (All Press). In general you typically have time for one (and money!) so there is a huge element of risk to the choice.

Now I just had one coffee so please forgive my inadequate review, but perhaps you've tried the other two (or know somewhere else), but I went Toby's Estate. Why? Well firstly, I work with brands and would hate to break the advertising mentality that 'big brands are successful because they are big'. Second I've reviewed Toby's Estate well on City Road. Third, I really wanted a good coffee and hoped they could pull it off.

Lining up I saw glasses and cups which gave me some hope that perhaps I could get a sit in drink. However as I ordered a latte “saying for here”, my hopes dashed as my order was written up and a paper cup was put into the production line.

The coffee was made quickly and the solo barista while being flooded with orders did put effort into the pour. He did a nice heart (which would have looked even better in a glass) and handed it off to me. Looks, as takeaway coffee goes, was nice, I like that they put in the effort into the pour and you are given the option put own your own lid.

I went no lid - and walked for 50 meters to grab a window space. Now while I like the idea not having a lid on my coffee in walking to a seat I quickly realised that a smarter move would have been to get one, as I did some fancy footwork around some hyperactive kids.

The coffee's aroma was almost non-existent by the time I sat down, the silky milk had began to settle and dry and I'm not sure the cardboard helped the experience.

Tasting wise, it was as far from City Road as you can get for Toby's. A little bland and slightly overheated and I could not really get any sort of discernible favour other than the milk (perhaps some caramel). The coffee just not what you'd expect from the brand.

Perhaps the quantity of milk needed to fill up a whole takeaway cup is either just not that suitable for the lovely and often more punchy bean. Perhaps the pour was a little under-extracted, due to inattention by the barista, due to the pressure he was under to pump out coffee so people will not miss their flights.

Enjoying the view I allowed the coffee to cool and steep. I found the flavours, once the coffee had cooled, were more to what I'd come to expect from the bean - I noted that a delicate and rich milk based cocoa, milky sweet caramel like flavours with an interesting earthy edge to it was starting to develop.

Overall, I'm perhaps being a little harsh on Toby's Estate however, I do it out of respect to their other key stores they own. If we start thinking about coffee at the airport and not in an absolute Sydney terms, it's a fine option for a caffeine hit on the go, just not one to savour.

In future I'm not sure why I went a latte in this situation. If I were you, go a mac, long black, espresso or piccolo and hopefully you'll see the bean at its best.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 5/10
Experience (taste and smell): 5/10
-----------
Coffee total: 10/20
-----------

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): An airport
Cool?:5/10 – I like airports and watching planes…
Service: 5/10
-----------
Cafe: 9/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 19/40



Toby’s Estate on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Grounds of Alexandria

Scores:
Coffee: 15/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 31/40

Look I admit I've been a bit shit of late. You see, while I've been writing drafts upon drafts of different places, I’ve been terrible at getting them up online… not to mention, I may have been a little Darlinghurst centric of late in my reviews. Hopefully this is set to change with a review that likely should have occurred in 2012.

A work away day on a cold Thursday this week finds me arriving 40 mins early to the Grounds of Alexandria to give it a spin before we dive into a brainstorm.

The Grounds is a place I’ve been meaning to come for a long time, it has been one of those it Inner West cafés people love to love, and love to talk about even more (this must be one of the Instagramed locations in Sydney?). Even if you’re not familiar with the place (unlikely if you’re reading this blog), surely you heard about the pig (Kevin Bacon), which got pig-nabbed last year?

If you’ve not been here before you’ll likely be as lost as me when you walk in. Walking around the grounds of the Grounds is not an unpleasant experience though. Say hi to the pig and macaw as you search for the coffee machine.

Once I had located the café itself and as it was 815am, I decided to ignore the signs telling me to ‘wait here for a seat’ (don't try this on a weekend) and instead walk on in and grab a table near the back of the inside cafe.

The inside space was loud, colourful, cold and very barn/warehouse like, I loved it. The atmosphere was fantastic. Retro-ish music played, busy chatter mixed into the high ceilings and the sounds of an espresso machine pumping away was a constant only broken by the baristas emptying out the coffee grinds into the bin.

Food, often modern twists on classic home cooked meals for breakfast flowed around me, reminding me that I had infact skipped breakfast that day. Note, the breakfast burger, which I had later was amazing.

The coffee appeared. Looks wise it had the classic pour heart, more rustic than perfectionist thing, which I must say surprised me a little for a place priding itself on the coffee and presentation. The coffee had clearly taken a bit of a round about way to get here as the frothed milk while still silky had the signs of drying to it.

The aroma was a little spicy to the nose with little hint of the roaster. Taste wise, coming from their still pretty unique (for Australia) La Marzocco machine I found it to be one of the more delicate coffees I've had of late. Initially you may, like me, struggle to discern what's behind this bean, letting it sit, revealed a little more.

The wait brought forward some interesting fruity honeycomb like flavours mixed with a bit of an interesting slight spice, which if you paid me I'd not be able to guess. An espresso I had later in the day revealed more of a full bodied and rich experience some reasonable acidity and that added complexity of sweetness going on which I found in the latte.

Overall, it's a killer joint. The staff seem cool and to manage the ebbs and flows of traffic well. The space is a great urban barn and undoubtedly still one of the more unique cafe propositions in Sydney. And the coffee one of the most delicate experiences you can come across.

My three bits of advice. First, come here on a weekday if you can, the lines (what scared me from coming) are non-existent. The second is with your espresso coffee skip the latte and go something with considerable less milk. And the third is perhaps their filtered coffee could be the best experience yet.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 7/10
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
-----------
Coffee total: 15/20
-----------

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): an urban barn
Cool?: 10/10
Service: 6/10
-----------
Cafe: 16/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 31/40



The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Marcelle on Macleay - Potts Point

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

A Saturday stroll up William Street and then down into Potts Point finds me walking amongst one the most random areas of Sydney, Macleay Street. The area is a true mix of socialites, walk-of-shame revellers and fitness fanatics all clash with one another every Saturday morning.

What Macleay Street for all its NYC or London like cosmopolitanism charm (and/or trash) seems lack, is a café of style and substance with some quality coffee thrown in. There are some wonderful exceptions on the street to this blanket statement, namely Coffee, Tea and Me, however most coffee joints on Macleay, particularly close to or before the 'line' (the mark between Potts Point and Kings Cross) look quite unpleasant regardless of the hour.

The good news is that about 6 months ago someone read my mind and opened Marcelle on Macleay. Found right across from the iconic Potts Point Fountain you'll be sure to find it by either the queue of peeps outside the cafe or by the small tables on the footpath.

Having spotted an outside table (that on most winter mornings could have been dangerous, however on this sunny one, majestic) I made my move and sat down.

A girl came over to the table quickly. Deciding to follow the guys beside me I went for a piccolo latte (and a scrambled egg with spicy tomato relish sandwich for breakfast - bread naturally from Brickfields).

While soaking in the sun, sounds and smells of Potts Point, the coffee soon appeared and was done presented with a classic heart pour.

The coffee’s aroma was quite dominantly nutty and a little bittersweet to the nose, you can tell the roast they use is not your typical Sydney milk chocolate affair.

Taking a sip, the nutty flavour seems to be distinctly almond like in flavour. There was also an interesting dark cocoa flavour which tended to linger then the nutty flavour. I would describe the coffee as an initially bitter and punchy experience followed through by sweeter rounded slightly ashy flavour with a hint of honey thrown in somewhere. All in all, a wonderful over analysis of a drink if I do say so myself.

If you leave your drink a while, the dark bitter flavour remains, however there is a lovely bit of something more sweet to the aftertaste, a flavour I can't quite put my finger on this morning, any thoughts?

Overall, I’m sure impressed with the place. The staff were wonderfully pleasant. The atmosphere, sitting on the footpath, sheltered from the wind, in the sun on a glorious Sydney morning was amazing (although I do admit a little hard to replicate. It was just one of those classic Sydney morning moments.). Food, thanks for asking, tasty. Although I could have used a knife and fork to eat the egg with (don’t turn down the cutlery like I did). And coffee (likely the house blend by di Gabriel), a wonderful and brave experience by a café not afraid to reject the normal milk chocolate or caramel flavours we're all coming to expect from the Sydney coffee scene. Killer spot, nice coffee.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 7/10
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
-----------
Coffee total: 15/20
-----------

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like):
Cool?: 9/10
Service: 8/10
-----------
Cafe: 17/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 32/40



Marcelle on Macleay on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Art Gallery of NSW - Cafe

Scores:
Coffee: 10/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 23/40

A wet long weekend finds Nerd 2 and I at the Art Gallery of NSW, having seen the Treasures of Afghanistan exhibition (wonderful). We headed downstairs for a late lunch.

There are two eating destinations at the Gallery, The fancy upstairs joint and the downstairs café, we headed down.

From initial appearances the cafe presents itself well. An open kitchen, inside and outside sitting options and a nice colour tone with lots of white marble throughout (as you'd expect from the Gallery).

Given it was the Sunday of a Long Weekend the line was long. Nerd 2 and I worked as a team to fight through it. I'd order, she go on table duty.

The line flowed well and lunch, plus a latte and a green tea was soon ordered and (hopefully) on their way.

The wait for both latte and food was not too long, although in saying that the wait for the green tea was another 10mins until nerd 2 just went up to the serving area to get it.

The latte's presentation was disappointing, but not overly unexpected given the quantity of people and the solo barista behind the machine. The coffee I would describe looked as stressed as the staff felt. Hastily poured and quickly stirred as it settled before presentation to the table, heatwise it was a little cool to the touch and saucer had remnants of a cappuccino before it.

The aroma of the drink was reasonable and  you would say quite safe with the slight milk chocolate flavour to the nose. Taste wise it was a very traditional coffee (safe) in its flavours aiming to suit everyone (perhaps suiting the crowd?). There was a dominant chocolate flavour, with hints of the roaster with a smoky ting in the nose. It was a very milk dominated drink.

Letting it cool (which was not to hard given its heat at arrival) the flavours tended to intensify around both the milk and chocolate tones, not a bad flavour at all.

Overall, while likely a brilliant and charming cafe on a quiet weekday, come Sunday of a Long Weekend the cafe had stressed the staff and faculties their breaking points. Tables you'll likely you may clean yourself (although they did get this under control). Water glasses rare to find (again they got more staff on and it came under control) and food while good is inconsistent in quality (likely due to wait time to server time – likely to have come under control later in the day). The coffee, while likely a crowd pleaser, is not doing the cafe's location justice. I would have loved to see beans to match exhibitions (like their meals) rather than a stock standard bean.

Just to note I've been here previous on a quieter Saturday and it was a far better staff and coffee experience, I do like the place post gallery run. But for this experience -

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 5/10
Experience (taste and smell): 5/10
-----------
Coffee total: 10/20
-----------

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): A slightly worn-down The NSW Art Gallery
Cool?: 7/10
Service: 4/10
-----------
Cafe: 13/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 23/40

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Venus Cafe (The Stables Cafe) - Surry Hills

Scores:
Coffee: 16/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 34/40

It’s rare when a café hits a lot of the right marks. You walk in and the staff are chatty and friendly, the vibe is chilled and the coffee is wonderfully put together.

I luckily found such a place that hits all these marks (and more if you're into your food). What was once The Stables and now Venus Café (not sure why the name change) is a gem of a cafe in Surry Hills that will make most coffee nerds quite happy.

Found at the back of The Stables clothing store (get in via the alley or walk through the store) across the road from the Beresford on Bourke Street, the café (IMO) has one of the best interiors in Sydney.

The interior, reflects the urbanised Surry Hills vibe perfectly. Venus has huge glass windows to the alleyway, allowing sunlight to stream in what would have otherwise been a very dark space. Polished concrete floors and untreated wood clashes well against a floor to ceiling wall of black tiles behind the counter. On warmer days a balcony opens up to the urban jungle behind and on the cooler ones a wall is put in place closing in creating an “inside outside” space. If you're an Instagram junkie you're bound to find a few shots you'll post up.

The staff greeted me as soon as I walked in with some light banter and a fast coffee order. On this occasion I choose not to follow the order a couple of guys in front of me (who went iced lattes) and instead went long black.

The coffee was both light and delicate in texture with a lovely crema. The flavour was citrus like perhaps and if I was going to put a fruit to it, I'd say sweet lemon. There was a slight acidity that stays with you in your throat after a sip with a little smokiness to the nose.

Letting the coffee sit I had a bit of a scope of the place. If you're into stalking the Surry crowd, the café is undoubtedly a good people watching location. There are a real mix of young urbanites flowing through the space.

Back to the coffee – having let the coffee sit, the acidity of the flavours intensified, bringing out the fruiter edges to the drink (perhaps I was wrong on the flavours, it is perhaps more of a grapefruit than lemon). As an aftertaste there was now something a little more solid than the wispy smokiness then previously mentioned.

Overall, it’s hard not to love the café as there was little to fault with the cafe. The space is very cool, vibe chilled, staff the right sort of attentive and coffee really well made. Just remember to get here early as it starts to close up as it tends to close just after lunch.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
-----------
Coffee total: 16/20
-----------

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): A designer cafe
Cool?: 10/10
Service: 8/10
-----------
Cafe: 18/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 34/40


View Larger Map

The Stables Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Factory Grind - Surry Hills

Scores:
Coffee: 16/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 31/40

A wonderful autumn Sunday sees me climbing out of the Darlinghurst valley into Surry Hills peaks. Having sadly been turned away from Stanley Street Merchants for the second time for not having a booking (post breakfast I think it's more of a restaurant affair). I made this weekend’s destination instead a cool looking café, I've been meaning to check out ever since I passed it on my way home from the Stables, The Factory Grind on Bourke (a post for another time).

The Grind is found on Burke Street in Surry, a little bit towards Taylor Square from the Beresford. An airy spot the café does a good job with its corner location, making the inside feel quite outside.

Grabbing a seat was not a huge problem as Burke Street cafes go into chilled mode on Sundays. I was quickly greeted with both menu and bottle of water and glass. I followed the order of the guys beside me and got a piccolo latte.

The coffee was quick in its appearance and had that charming well-made piccolo look to it. A nice fast free pour heart.

The aroma from the coffee was short and sharp with a mixture of the roaster’s ashy flavours alongside the bean's fruiter sour flavours.

Tasting wise the flavour of the coffee was like its smell. A spicy, fruity (like a berry) sweet the piccolo latte.

Leaving it sit it picks up more sour berry notes, with some coca hints, after each sip is a lingering ashy smoky flavour. A really nice experience and very worth lingering over.

I grabbed a late lunch while I was here, watching people come and go. It is clearly a popular spot with the locals as even as the staff tried to close up, customers continued to come in and grab coffees and teas to sit in. The staff were very accommodating to these requests.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Factory, it’s one of the easier places to sit for an hour (or two) over a coffee and a tasty fresh meal. The staff are highly pleasant, café feel a very Surry Hills affairs and coffee, well presented and full of surprising flavours in a city where you increasingly come to expect just one of four/five roasters.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
-----------
Coffee total: 16/20
-----------

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): If a restrained Dalí designed a Surry Hills cafe
Cool?: 8/10
Service: 7/10
-----------
Cafe: 15/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 31/40


View Larger Map
The Factory Grind on Urbanspoon
UA-32548682-1