Sunday, 16 September 2012

Cafe Shenkin Espresso Bar

Scores:
Coffee: 16/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 32/40
Bean: Mecca

Shenkin is a name that needs little introduction. Often we of Newtown have had to suffer long and scary walks down Erskineville Road to find the guys who seem to work Mecca better then Mecca does, but luckily no longer!

A Wednesday that I had escaped from work finds me on King scoping out this new espresso stop. Cafe Shenkin Espresso Bar, found right where the Old Fish Shop Café use to be, has redone the old dilapidated café into something new, which is rare to say on a well over saturated caffeine strip.

New, I hear you say? What’s new about a café opening on King, more so a cafe using someone else beans? Well nothing really, but standing outside Shenkin Espresso it’s hard to describe the place as a café for starters, given that there are just three seats (not including the stoop, which you could perch on and look über cool).

Walking into Shenkin Espresso I was a little reserved, how could a great café mix itself as an espresso bar? Could an espresso bar work on King? Am I hipster enough to be here? None of these questions were instantly answered, but I thought I was at least hipster enough to walk in.

Friendly from the get go, although you would have to be with so little room, I was lucky on this occasion to snag one of three spots (this is a espresso bar folks) so I jumped into it. A shout to the counter ordering a latte got it on its way. Unexpectedly at this point they asked me “single origin or blend mate?”, “what ever is more popular” was my response, assuming as I have ordered a latte a single origin really would have been wasted.

The guys here, as you would note from the above conversation, are knowledgeable and want to help the customer get the most out of their espresso, more so if they have the time.

My latte rolled out to me quickly, with the barista telling me they used a Darkhorse blend from Mecca, which is an interesting mix between African (66%) and South American (33%) beans.

It was a good-looking drink, as what is really expected from Shenkin, with nice latte art, reasonable heat and good proportions to it.

The drink’s aroma is as what you would hope from a Darkhorse. It’s quite a sweet smell and with milk (my last review was a long black) and instead of the fruitiness I found more of a caramel.

My heavy concentration on the drink was broken by a string of bizarre and wonderful characters streaming through, who I would guess would be Shenkin Espresso regulars. Customers here, mid-week ones at least, are not your normal Campos goers, which is great to see. Guys in drag, tradies and hipster kids all attracted by the coffee, smooth house beats and smell of chocolate babkas wafting around Church Street. Quite a few of them brought their own mugs, which was cool.

Getting back to the coffee, I found two clear and distinct flavours, caramel and sugar cane, each sitting differently in the mouth as you drink it and each working in harmony with the other. The drink had a light to medium body to it and had little scarring from the roasting. It’s a very smooth drink.

Some readers have noted that they find Mecca coffees rather weak in flavour. I would not say that they are weak, but rather not designed to be drunk with more then a small amount of milk. Play the small size card or go the double shot.

Overall, while lacking the amazing foods of it’s big brother over in Erko or the seats of a normal cafe, Cafe Shenkin Espresso Bar brings us something new to the table, with a functioning and cool coffee bar experience right in the middle of King Street. Good coffee and great take away pastry food options, different to what you would find at say Black Star. This place is almost too cool for its own good.

End note: and yes readers, I did get an espresso at a later point, single origin Kenyan maybe? Was great.

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): hipster coffee paradise
Cool?: 7/10
Service: 9/10
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Cafe: 16/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 32/40


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