You might be looking for: Brewtown Newtown, which now lives here.
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 29/40
Bean: Single Origin Roasters
It may not surprise many of you to hear that I’m not just a coffee nerd but really an all out nerd. One of my favourite activities, when I’m not getting a coffee is checking out books. Yes, I hear you say, Rob - you’ve got an iPad and a MacBook Air that you walk around with to cafes, not to mention that stupid digital camera and hey don’t you love your digital strategy? Again, all true! But there is something oh so satisfying as an amazing book (doubly so second hand).
And so it does surprise me and maybe you that I have not, as of yet, checked out Maynard’s Café at Berkelouw Books Newtown. Berkelouw Books Newtown is really one of Sydney’s hidden treasures, quite literally. Found on one of Newtown’s side streets (O’Connell) just off King, Berkelouw is the model example of what a converted two-storey warehouse should be. Moreover, what nails this bookshop is the café. Found upstairs, nestled within one of the best-presented collections of second hand books in Sydney.
So here I find myself on a sunny Saturday arvo, killing some time before I head down to the Courtie to watch the rugby. I quickly head up the stairs, passing a distracted couple excited by a book they had found and go directly up to the counter, well stop that's a lie, I checked out books for ten, then went to the counter.
Now in the habit of getting lattes (I typically order what seems like the most popular coffee at the café I’m visiting) I order one and take a seat at one of the many large wooden tables. My mates who are finishing up at school tell me this is the place to come to study, and I can tell why, this is an environment made reading, far better then Fisher, et al. over at the uni.
I’ve gotta say at this point, while I am positively behind the idea of the bookshop café, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been burnt by this experience. The failed Borders / Gloria Jeans experiment makes me (and many others) cynical from the get go, spoiled books, gimmicky coffee standards – but there really is something to it, I think.
The coffee came over to me quickly and it looked pretty good. Having had a lot of shit coffee without latte art on top, there was something kind of honest about the simple heart in this coffee presented in the very silky looking foam. Its portions were on the mark, good stuff.
The aroma of the coffee was fun, it started with flicks of the smokiness from roast, but then with every third breath turned into a sweet milky chocolate aroma, all together very well balanced.
Taking a break from the coffee to pull out the iPad I had a look around, the café has a mixture of old leather couches, big wooden tables and huge windows and skylights, with some odd red lanterns hanging from the room, (I assume a connecting point between the Raman bar down stairs). There was also a photo gallery of insects happening, if that's your thing. The customers are as you would expect – a mix of hipsters, nerds and yuppies, love it.
The taste of the coffee was very enjoyable. It’s a balanced drink with a nice level of vibrancy to it. That milky sweat aroma when sipping on it was far more like a milk chocolate (if that make any difference) when in the mouth.
These flavours are solid – the roast and the bean had merged well. It did have something else happening as well, but I could not work out what at this stage. Letting the coffee cool, it became far more delicate and a little less textured. The milk chocolate flavours really did endure and it was ridiculously easy coffee to drink.
Overall, I gotta say, having sat here Maynard’s Café, Burkelow Books really does epitomise the new, Newtown well: The converted warehouse; the uber hipster staff; the nerd and yuppie crowds mingling (with only a little unease); second hand books playing the major role in the look and feel; and that nice, simple and nondramatic quality of the coffee and bean. While Burkelow Book’s is a Newtown attraction in onto itself, Maynard’s Café is really worth the stop in even if books are not your thing.
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): The perfect warehouse conversion… with red lanterns
Cafe total: 15/20
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 29/40
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