Friday, 20 January 2012

Mecca Espresso (King Street, City)

Scores (averaged across two visits): 
Coffee: 17/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 32/40

Tuesday: Walking down a different King Street today, following a recommendation from a friend, I head towards Mecca. Mecca should not be a new name to many in the Sydney coffee world. It’s been a mainstay under the Grace Hotel for a while and has built up quite the following especially now as its Ultimo store won a series of awards (think the SMH good café of the year award).

As I arrive I was unsurprised to find a huge queue of businesspersons all bouncing back and forth waiting their turn to order a coffee. Mecca is a sliver of a shop, but maintains itself well, using both inside and footpath to optimal usage (be sure to get here before lunch to grab the choice tables).

The line moves with business like precision and I found was quickly at the head of the queue ordering my flat white, while still somewhat distracted by the building itself. Once I had ordered I took a seat along one of the inside benches and took in the whole shop, noting the stained glass and old charm of modern space.

The coffee was quick to arrive, and I noted to my satisfaction that the cups they used (which would not be out of place at my grandparents house) matched the old feel of the building. Style wise, the foam art while not as fantastic as Campos yesterday, still looked pretty good! Layering wise it was a little heavy on the foam, but not so much so.

The smell of the coffee was interesting it was something both reasonably bold and fruity sweet. It is a pleasant experience and one that I repeated a few times.

Drinking it I found it to be a medium-ish roast (leaning a little bit on the darker side). The milk I found interacted with it well, giving it a bit of a creamy taste with occasional hits of what I reckon could be caramel. That fruitiness, which is more of a peach then a cherry kind of taste, tasted was less distinct then it smelt, I am guessing because of the milk, but was pleasingly still there.

Just to note, I am pleased I only had a small flat white, as the milk flavour really dominated this drink (more then it should). I think the drink of choice here really is the espresso, but if one must insist upon a larger coffee get it with an extra shot.

What I also liked about Mecca was the option to get some filtered coffees in store (shock horror American style coffee!). Having spent a lot of time in North America, I can appreciate a good filtered drink and am really wanting to come back here (or one of their other stores) and grab one over a long breakfast with nerd two and send her to sleep with what I can taste in the dark black drink (she is a tea drinker).

Overall, it’s great. The shops a little old, while not being so at all (modern coffee stuff here fore sure), cool while being serious and has good coffee, done in unexpected ways. I like it.


 (first experience) Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10 (not the greatest of art, but a whole lot of style)
Experience (taste and smell): 9/10
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Coffee total: 17/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Manhattan/Italian coffee house
Cool?: 7/10
Service: 7/10
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Cafe: 14/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 31/40

UPDATE: I keep my promises!

I went back to Mecca on King Street, to try out the long black here. Again line was long, but not hugely so. I managed to score a seat outside. Ordered a long black and waiting with anticipation.

The coffee came out to me at quite a speed.

Ok, some things to notice here. As you can see from the picture, the crema is broken and messy. Now this can be a bad thing in a coffee, however, if you’re going to a well-known quality place assume it’s not.

What has happened is either: the shot went into the cup first, and then hot water second (positives and negatives) or the café does double ristretto instead of a single espresso which changes both the taste and crema viscous quantity and taste. What does this mean? It means you’re crema look will be ruined (personal style), but the quality of the drink should be high.

Back to the experience: A friendly barista brought me the coffee, who explained it was a single origin coffee from Costa Rica (although he said he could not pronounce the bean’s origin, as his Spanish is not great, fair enough!). He also told me what I should expect in the drink. This service is top quality today.

The coffee had an amazing rich dark fruity smell to it. And that taste just followed though. The drink was nice, deep and balanced, it managed to pull off an almost cheeky fruitiness, with some interesting fount of mouth acidity, balanced by a back of mouth almost salty base.

(second experience) Scores:
1. Coffee Score
Style (look & feel): 7/10
Experience (taste & smell): 10/10
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Coffee total: 17:20
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2. Style (what's it feel like): Manhattan / Italian coffee house
cool?: 7/10
Service: 9/10
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Cafe: 16/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 33/40

Average Coffee (experience one and two): 17/20
Average cafe (experience one and two): 32/40



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