Make the aeropress your backup.

We coffee addicts, and even those of us who are coffee dabblers, usually have a go-to joint for our caffeine fix. But what of those particularly hectic workdays when you barely even have time to leave your desk? Or those rare and marvellous occasions when you find yourself travelling through unfamiliar lands, and you find that a good cup o’ joe is all too rare, and none too marvellous? In these situations, I put it to you that the consistent, tea-like gradual release caffeine buzz that is Aeropress is your best bet.

‘Third wave’ or filter coffee can often seem an overwhelming prospect, not only for its high-school-chemistry-looking gadgetry and need for precision, but also its almost dogmatic rejection of all things lactose-based (or adjacent). But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, in environments where a good coffee can be hard to find, it could be your salvation.

To become a competent (read: better than instant coffee or bad espresso) aerobrewster, you don’t need much, just:
A few abstract items:
• The ability to learn a new skill
• A willingness to drink black coffee
A few concrete items:
• Roasted coffee beans (as good quality as you can get your hands on)
• An aeropress
• The coffee scoop and filters that came with it
• A hand grinder (this one grinds well, is easy to use and tiny – it fits inside the aeropress itself)
• Your phone, if you can be bothered to time your brew
• A kettle, water
• A coffee mug

Nice-to-haves:
• Digital scales. Accomplished brewers consider these a must-have, if you already have some, use them, otherwise I think you’ll be ok.

What you do
1. First off, get everything together. Fill the kettle and set it to boil. You want boiled water that has cooled slightly (about 80 degrees).
2. Scoop in a scoopful of coffee and grind away until all the beans are ground. Set the aeropress up as above; the inversion method is the easiest. Pour in the ground coffee.
3. Dampen one circle of aeropress paper with a few drops of water and place it in the lid.
4. Set a timer for up to two minutes. Start the timer. Slowly pour in the boiled water over the course of about 20 seconds, trying to evenly coat all the coffee grounds you can. Agitate the aeropress slightly (either with a teaspoon or just twirl/shake it a touch) to make sure there are no pockets of dry grounds.
5. When there are only about 20 seconds left on the timer, screw the lid on the top aeropress and place a mug upside down on top.
6. Flip the entire thing, mug and aeropress over so the aeropress is on the top and the mug is on the bottom. Slowly press all the water through the aeropress until the time is up.
7. If you wait a few minutes, when you take the lid off the aeropress to clean it, you can push the wet coffee grounds out in one neat puck.
8. Savour your coffee as it cools and the flavours change.

Have you tried aeropress? Have you had good results?

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I was tagged in this blog hop by an always excellent blogger and very good chum of mine, Tara of VegeTARAian. You can read her post over here.

Why do I feel the need to sit down every week or so and tell perfect strangers about the latest place I went to sip on an excellent coffee? Why does any of it matter, if there are 70,000 food blogs and who knows how many food-based instagram accounts out there? What is my blog adding to ‘the conversation’?

These are questions I’ve been struggling with and procrastinating over for the last 6 months or so.

What am I working on?
The long answer: Right now, I’m ‘working on’ what I want my blog to be. Corridor Kitchen’s been running for almost four years and I’ve realised quite recently that the ‘template’ or ‘format’ I developed to keep the posts manageable and my motivation high has become needlessly restrictive; it’s actually started to de-motivate me.

I’d like to delve deeper into the topics I want to know more about. Enough of this surface-level soundbite bullshit. Unless, on a particular day, I feel like writing some surface-level soundbite bullshit! It’s my blog, I can write about what I like, isn’t that the point!? I’ve also become ridiculously hard on myself. If I’m not at the hot new coffee joint the second it opens to give people the 411, I often just let the post go altogether.

Chasing decent traffic and heeding far too much advice about staying ‘true to brand’ or ‘on topic’ can sometimes leave me frozen, unable to write a thing. Never mind that fact that anything I write on my blog will be, by definition, ‘true to brand’ because I wrote it. So I’ve resolved my blog, my rules. Fuck what everyone else is writing about if I’m not interested.

The short answer: Whatever the hell I like.

How does my writing differ from others in its genre?
It doesn’t, because there’s a very established format for food blogs. Most food blogs either fit neatly into or include some combination of the four archetypes below:

  1. The ‘reviewers’, those who write about the places in their area or a specific food type (e.g. they might write about specialty coffee worldwide, or they might write about New York restaurants). These blogs often have a hip, sometimes flippant tone and a finger-on-the-pulse bent and they are incredibly useful when you’re looking for a great restaurant or café somewhere.
  2. The recipe developers, who create or adapt recipes and sprinkle in a lovely little personal story into each post (I learnt this formula early on, it is what drew me to food blogging). The great thing about these blogs is they are very universal and relatable; their sense of place does not rely on you knowing a ‘scene’ or context’.
  3. The aggregators or ‘food mag’-style websites – those that aim to cover everything they can relating to food and may have many contributors. These can be amazing for the breadth of information they cover, their reach.
  4. The originals, who are truly doing something different, refuse to fit into or be part of any of these genres

Ok, ok, my writing does differ, because I have my own voice. But so does everyone else.

Why do I write what I do
I came to start the blog because fear of death.

I have always written; journals, in my free time, all through school from the time I could write until I graduated from uni. I do well in instances where people set me a task and give me a grade. The blog was in itself a writing ‘assignment’ I set myself (write a blog, you’ve got nothing else on kid), because I had an epiphany and realised I can set my own damn work.

I write a food blog because food is easy to write about, we all eat, we all have an opinion about what we stuff in our gobs.

I write about coffee because that I am obsessed with it and I think I know what a good one is, how to make it and where to find it. And I don’t see any reason why that information should not be shared, for free, unsponsored and as free of influence as can be, for anyone who wants it.

I reckon there are shitter writers than me out there writing about the same topics and I refuse to give the entire online space over to them.

How does my writing process work
Of late, it doesn’t work so well. But I’m starting to free myself up.

I take notes on my phone or a notebook when I have an idea or want to remember a phrase. I will sit down and force myself to bang out an entire post in a couple of hours. I will leave that for at least 24 hours and then check back and revise. I’m too lazy to do that a second time, so I’ll often leave the writing at that.

Sharing the love
Ok, now for the good bit. Four excellent bloggers below have agreed to be tagged in this hop by yours truly. I’d put more faith in their wisdom than mine if I were you.

Enviro-warrior, Tasmanian, Travel nut, stellar photographer (seriously) and good mate, Toni over at Shape of Things to Come seriously gives a fuck about sustainability and lives that principle. She’s in Peru right now putting her money where her mouth is.

Simon from The Heart of Food is one of the first Aussie bloggers I really started reading and got to know in person. He is a meticulous perfectionist, consummate photographer and all-round nice guy who’d surely give you his last panna cotta lamington if you asked. His posts are rare but precious things.

Ed has been blogging at Tomato since 2005 on food, writing, journalism, pr, ethics, you name it. His blog makes for a cracking read and that’s no surprise as he’s an ex-journo, social media consultant and self-described ‘punk rock food warrior’.

And Ai-ling over at Food Endeavors of the Blue Apocolypse is my blogging and IRL kindred spirit. She wears so many hats I’m surprised her head hasn’t come off her neck. She’s a food-obsessive, Perth-promoting, force-to-be-reckoned with.

What about you? Do you write? Why do you write?

To see more ‘Why I Write’ bloghop entries, check out all the links at A Welcome Relief.

1. Fish and Chips
I ordered fish and chips at a random pub (The Draft House Westbridge, to be exact) in Battersea and was not disappointed. A large plate was soon placed in front of me holding a generous portion of hake coated with a crisp, golden batter. This was balanced on a heap of hand-cut chips with sides of tartar and mushy peas and a juicy wedge of lemon. As I bit into the hake, the outer coating literally shattered and the flesh of the fish melted in my mouth. Worth. Every. Calorie.

2. Beigels with pickles and anything else
We tried them with bacon. We tried them with chive cream cheese. We tried them with the famed ‘salt beef’. But whatever these chewy beigels (pronounced ‘bee-guhls’) from Beigel shop were slathered with, a pickle (or as the Brits say, gherkin) was a must. In fact, I’d be tempted to go a gherkin-only beigel next time around. The tart, sweet firmness is all you need to offset the bouncy, starchy goodness of a real bagel.

3. Prosecco everywhere!
I’m counting all liquids other than water as ‘foods’ for the purpose of this post. I’ve been a fan of this Italian sparkling wine (apparently soon to go the way of champagne and port in terms of naming rights) since it was first deemed an acceptable breakfast drink. There didn’t seem to be a bar or restaurant we stumbled into during our two weeks in London that didn’t serve Prosecco, and it was the perfect summer (if you can call it that) arvo drink for when you just can’t face another room-temp British ale or lager. Not that I don’t like the aforementioned tipples, but they can be a meal unto themselves, and then you don’t have room for scones.

4. ‘Proper scones’
I was hell-bent on having high tea but in the end, Vegetaraian and I settled on scones for lunch one day at Canteen, Spitalfields market. I thought I knew scones. I did not know scones. I find it difficult to describe the sublime texture of these beauties, so incredibly crunchy on the outside yet flaky and buttery within, all at once shortbread-like yet soft. Served with clotted cream and house-made strawberry jam, it is no exaggeration to say they had our waitress salivating. She told us that every order of scones is baked fresh. And all this from a franchise!

5. A Sunday Roast, complete with Yorskshire pudding
This was my last big feed in LDN- roast lamb with steamed veggies, potatoes roasted in duck fat (!), Yorkshire pudding and a liberal ladling of gravy. This meal was a hearty, textural delight from start to finish. The meat was juicy, the pud crunchy, the edges soggy where they met with the gravy, and the potatoes, those starchy dream ‘vegetables’, perfectly decadent. I stopped short (just) of licking my plate clean.

I’d love to know your fave London eats for my next visit! Let me know in the comments below…

corridor kitchen

We step up to the passport counter in Heathrow and the Border Force man takes a look at our pair of mismatched passports; one Aussie and one EU.

‘So how do you two know each other then?’

An innocent enough-sounding question, it has the air of small talk at a dull party, but it is asked in quite an aggressive way, and I’m confused after 7 hours of flying. It seems out of context and I feel my answer will determine (or rather, this man will) whether or not we’re allowed in to Britain. Struggling for a middle ground between recounting our entire romantic history and telling him to get fucked, I blurt out

‘We’re, you know…in a relationship?’

He seems ok with this and after determining we’re here for a holiday and a conference he lets us through.

corridor kitchen

Beigels from Beigel shop with chive cream cheese and gherkins.

After shiny silver Dubai airport with nary an accusing sign or announcement in sight (one gets the sense no one would dare ruffle the pristine environs with activities so base as eating, smoking or talking loudly on their mobiles), we’re greeted by a gaggle of signs instructing us wheretogowhattodowhatnottodowheretostandandsoforth. At the baggage carousel, an announcement comes over the PA asking parents to watch their children and don’t let them climb on it as ‘it is not a playground.’ The passengers laugh; it cuts through the tension to know we all find this place equally ridiculous and we’ll be out soon.

Fast forward to our eventual arrival in the vibrant hipster inner-city hub of Shoreditch. We’re staying steps away from Brick Lane’s curry houses in the slightly cheaper suburb of Spitalfields, pretty much the street art capital of the world, and I’m told the coffee ain’t bad either. Our pretty uninspiring but actually pretty nice apartment we’re sharing with Tara turns out to be round the corner from the iconic ‘Pride of Spitalfields’ Pub, complete with pub cat Lenny and friendly bar staff, it has been there since the 19th century.

Pride of Spitalfields

Brick lane Markets are winding down (it’s a Sunday) but it’s still pretty manic so we hit up the Beigel Shop and see the sights. The streets and surrounding bars are packed and there’s a holiday vibe in the air; it’s exactly the kind of scene you want to arrive to one the first day in a new place. This week is also the Graduate Fashion show, which means that the Shoreditch crowds are looking extra avant-guard. I look at some of these girls and I suddenly understand why people give a fuck about fashion. These people really wear their clothes, the clothes don’t wear them. Like some of the brilliantly executed and ever-evolving art on the walls around them, what they’re wearing is site-specific. It lives in this space, and it was designed to be here. There’s a lot of diversity in what people are wearing, but the majority of them are wearing chunky, dutch-looking sandals, many with socks, and I’m right back in to my ‘fashion is a waste of time’ mindset.

The first days in a new place can often seem hyperreal, and that’s how this day, this moment is for us. It’s kind of a ‘see the cool thing and go home and crash’ vibe, so we do. The next day we head out on a morning street art tour; three hours of walking and learning about the ever-changing Brick Lane and Shoreditch streets and walls. We meet our guide, Dav at the goat statue outside the Old Spitalfields market. It’s a good-sized tour of seven people. From there we weave through the streets and alleyways of Shoreditch and Spitalfields tracing the history and meaning behind of street art through surfaces covered with tags, stencils, paste-ups, freehand painting, etching, stickers and sculptures. I can honestly say that I was not bored for one single minute of this three hour tour so if you’re ever in Shoreditch, give it a go. I enthusiastically recommend it.

corridor kitchen

Of course we have to squeeze in at least a couple of ace coffees on our first day. The first is at Nude Espresso, which becomes our coffee home-away-from-home for the next few days. Super syrupy espresso and a selection of beans on offer (why didn’t I buy some?!) friendly staff with zero attitude, it was by far my fave haunt (post to come). We also hit up relative newcomer Craft Coffee for an immaculately prepared aeorpress and an espresso.  After burgers and ice cream and drinks, the three of us waddle home, content.

corridor kitchen

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The Hype
For the ‘I quit sugar’ movement, sugar is an insidious poison liberally and sneakily added to processed foods, rotting our teeth and making us all fat. What’s more, it apparently as addictive as cocaine or even heroin.

The Beef
Seem exaggerated? It is. But besides the hyperbole and lack of concrete scientific evidence to back it up, my main beef with the #iqs movement is that they don’t actually quit sugar at all. They quit fructose. ‘I quit fructose’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but iqs-ers never let the truth get in the way of a good hashtag. Because wtf is #iqf? Our #iqs chums really believe that fructose is poison, meaning that for them, it’s preferable to eat a half a cup of rice malt syrup to an apple, which seems insane.

The Fine Print
Is fructose poisonous? Fructose (not high fructose corn syrup) occurs naturally in fruit, but it is also present in many other foods; table sugar or caster sugar, for example, is 50% sucrose and 50% fructose. Fructose also occurs in high levels in many processed foods such as fruit juice (with juice you get all of the sugar, all of the calories and none of the fibre). Fructose may or may not be a problem for most of us (i.e. those of us without a sensitivity or allergy to it); the jury’s still out. Experts mostly agree that sugar is sugar, and that excessive sugar consumption does contribute to obesity and ill health. Substitutions for fructose such as rice malt syrup, the darling of the #iqs baking scene has an incredibly high glycemic index and a high glycemic load, higher than that of fructose or caster sugar. I question whether the spike in blood sugar caused by a spoonful of rice malt syrup (sugar) would be any better for you than that from a spoonful of golden syrup, which has the highest calorie-to-liquid ratio of all the syrups (and consequently is also my favourite of all syrups).

The Verdict
It would be so much simpler if we could just point the finger at fructose, or even sugar, and be done with it. But being fit and healthy is down to so many more factors than a specific kind of sugar. It’s true that sugar has overall been found to be quite addictive, blood sugar spikes are not good for you, and there is added sugar (and salt and god knows what else) in most processed foods. Obviously the food industry would love to have us believe that sugar ‘in moderation’ is fine, and let’s not worry too much about what ‘moderation’ means. But the ‘sneakiness’ of ‘hiding’ sugar in foods is not itself an argument for cutting out sugar or fructose from our diets.

So wtf should I do?
Sugar has been linked to obesity for the simple reason that sugar is energy; it is incredibly high in calories/kilojoules. It is also a problem because we often don’t take it into account day-to-day – bottled fruit juice, for example, has the same amount of sugar as coca cola, but we generally consider it ‘healthy’ and therefor ‘not fattening’, forgetting that ‘healthy’ foods can be incredibly high in calories; the fact that a food may be beneficial to your health tells you nothing about its caloric content whatsoever. Limiting or even cutting out added sugar completely can even out energy rushes and mood swings so that we may find we ‘feel better’ when we limit or eliminate it.

Sugar can be fun, it can be delicious, it can be addictive, it can be a lot of things, but it isn’t poison. So take the I quit sugar movement’s advice, or any nutritional advice from unqualified ‘experts’ (including me) with a grain of sugar. While it’s true we’ve overlooked the surreptitious sugar-ladening of our food for far too long, the solution is not to whip up a batch of rice-malt-syrup-and-ground-date-sweet-potato-brownies and scoff the whole pan. If you want to cut sugar or even just get a better handle on how much sugar you’re eating, then ditch highly processed foods and the baking altogether. It is really that simple.

Street-food-inspired café Cubao opened quietly last week in the former Little Indi site inside the Hardware Store, Alexandria. The café is the brainchild of Something for Jess owner Philip Ocampo, and I had been waiting with bated breath to see who would take over the space, so it would be an understatement to say that I was keen to check the place out.

Something for Jess is one of my favourite recent cafés, and their reputation is such that their very particular single origin coffees and glorious (and local) constructions of ‘stuff on toast’ have made their way on to most Sydney café addicts’ wish lists, so comparisons between Cubao and SFJ are inevitable. So too are comparisons between Cubao and the space’s former tenants, zero waste wunderkinds Frank Meura and Rebecca Chippington of Little Indi/Naked Indiana. So how does Cubao compare?

First up, the coffee. After 4 or 5 visits and many more espressos than that, I’m impressed. I will say that Cubao is not yet in the same league as neither the custom-roasted, hand-pumped Little Indi, nor the singular and always exceptional SFJ. They’re still finding their feet with their 5 senses beans, but the coffee is very, very good.

You might want to pop your head in at the counter in the entrance to the hardware store to order, at least for the initial and inevitable coffee or tea (and there’s a pretty decent-looking tea list, not that I’d know anything about that), most of the seating is outside, save a few seats at the bar if you feel like talking specialty coffee with ol’ Phil.

Food wise, Cubao serves up moderately-sized (and priced) globally-inspired brekkies and lunches; about seven items in total. It’s not necessarily about creating authentic international plates, more about rethinking Aussie cafe fare to be portable, diverse and street-food-inspired. Small but filling and with various options, my favourite so far of the three dishes I’ve tried is the ful wat; a braise of lentils and eggplant with a garnish of salty fetta, a squeeze of lemon or lime, warmed bread and egg. Sounds simple, but it’s anything but plain.

Overall, Ocampo has managed to make the place his own with a nod to his other business, reference the Little Indi guys and still keep things current, tasty, global and simple all at once. This is just the kind of café I want in my neighbourhood and luckily, that’s exactly where it is.

Cubao Street Food
50 McCauley Street
Alexandria NSW 2015
Monday – Friday 7:00am – 2:30pm
Closed Weekends

If you like your coffee geeked-out with a side of cartoons, Reformatory’s mad professor vibe may just be for you. Owner and head roaster (and fourth generation coffee farmer) Simon Jaramillo is a man possessed when it comes to coffee, serving up all the brews you could ever need from first to third-wave to everything in between.

The cafe is stand-and-drink only, so no chairs, just a few benches attached to the comic-adorned walls. The focus here is on the coffee, but there’s also same cakey things and killer empanadas if you’re feeling peckish.

The guys here are a little intense and are bound ask you how you heard about the place; I just tell them Raff sent me. They deliver your coffee two ways; as you ordered it (espresso, syphon, however) and as ground beans, so you can get a good sniff of the pre-brewed, roasted and ground product. Between that, a glass of water, the serving board and whatever sweet treat you couldn’t resist, there’s no room left on your coffee drinking bench. Just go with it.

The Reformatory Caffeine Lab
Shop 7B, 17-51 Foveaux St
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Monday – Friday: 6:30am – 4:00pm
Saturday: 8:00am – 2:00pm

The Reformatory Caffeine Lab on Urbanspoon

Much has been written (and doubtless, will continue to be written) about Brewtown Newtown, a great addition to the mostly uninspired caffeine scene in the formerly (and now once again?) cutting edge, albeit somewhat crunchy suburb of Newtown. Taking over the ground floor of the lovingly restored barn-like space on O’Connel Street (formerly Berkelouw books), Simon Triggs of Gnome and Charles Cameron of Single Origin Roasters have put together a cracking cafe.

Just off the main drag seems to be the way to play it these days. Brewtown sits on O’Connell Street, which comes off King street. Having visited a handful of times now, I find the service to be very professional; staff seat you, are attentive, and are eager to tell you all about their offerings, especially when it comes to coffee. This is admirable when you consider the place has been an instant hit and is usually packed out; take a sip of your coffee at 9:59, look up at the doorway at 10:00am and it’s as if a switch has been flicked to signal that brunch has begun.

The menu at Brewtown is well crafted enough to make choosing your meal a kind of delicious annoyance, from fruit salad littered with cronut crumbs to beetroot-cured trout on toast to baked (although I’m sure in a decent dousing of fat) polenta wedges served with portobellos and poached eggs to the delicious-looking duck ravioli, and of course, the famous cronuts, it’s a tough call.

These kids sure know their way around an espresso machine. Each coffee I’ve had, be it macch or espresso (my go-tos) have been singular and impressive in flavour and I haven’t had to wait too long. With their specialty coffee pedigree, Brewtown are currently serving a custom roasted blend from Single Origin Roasters (along with selected Single Origins) but will eventually be roasting themselves.

They’re also doing the third wave thing as well but I have to say, their filters don’t really float my boat. From cold drip to their ‘only-one-in-australia steampunk mod filter brewer’, my chums and I have been pretty unimpressed. I think I’m going to need to go back and find out more about their methods, maybe take some industry peeps along for the ride. Something may be lost in translation; it just doesn’t feel like the filters I’ve had there are showing the coffee in its best light. I’m looking forward to being proved wrong.

Having said that, this is hands down my fave Sydney cafe to open up in 2013. Somewhere with space, somewhere with style, somewhere professional (neither cooler-than-thou nor slacksadasical), somewhere with a substantial, imaginative yet casual menu, and somewhere with excellent coffee. The cherry on the sundae is that my fave gelato place, Cow & Moon, will be pal-ing up with Brewtown for some upstairs-affogato-project-madness. So stay tuned.



Brewtown Newtown
6-8 O’Connell Street
Newtown NSW 2042
02 9519 2920

Brewtown Newtown on Urbanspoon

Everyone deserves a bit of a break over Chrissy and New Year’s, even your local barista. But if the café staff are busy throwing a shrimp or two on the barbie, playing backyard cricket, cracking open a VB or otherwise adhering to ridiculous Aussie stereotypes, who’s gonna make your double riz flat white?

Never fear, the coffee list is here! The following Sydney cafés will be open between Christmas eve and January 2nd.

CBD
Ground Control Cafe, Circular Quay – Open 24, 27-30 December and 2 January
Gumption by Coffee Alchemy, CBD – Open 24, 26-30 December and 2 January
The Fine Food Store, The Rocks – Open 24, 27-30 December and 2 January

Inner West
Beejay’s, Marrickville – – Open 24, 26-31 December and 2 January
Belljar Coffee, Newtown – Open 24, 27-30 December
Bourke Street Bakery, Marrickville – Open 24, 27-30 December and 2 January
Brewtown, Newtown – Open 24 December,  then from 28 December onwards
Drugstore, Summer Hill – Open 24-28 December, 2 January
In the Annex, Forest Lodge – Open 27-30 December
Shenkin Espresso, Newtown – Open 24-30 and 1 January onwards – tbc
Shenkin Kitchen, Enmore – Open every day, including public holidays – tbc
Something for Jess, Chippendale – Open 27-30 December and 2 January
The House Specialty Coffee, Chippendale – open 24-25 December, closed 26 December to January 6th
The Pie Tin, Newtown – Open 27-31 December

Inner East
Bourke Street Bakery, Surry Hills –  Open 24, 27-30 December and 2 January
Devon Cafe, Surry Hills – Open 24,27-31 December and 2 January
Gypsy Espresso, Potts Point – Open 24,28-30 December
Not Just Coffee, Paddington – Open 26-30 December, 1-2 January
Room 10, Potts Point – Open 25 December – 31 January, open 2 January

Inner South
Bourke Street Bakery, Alexandria – Open 27-30 December and 2 January
Coffee Tea and Me, Redfern – Open every day, including public holidays
Reuben Hills, Surry Hills – Open 24 December, Open 27 December onwards
The Rag Land, Waterloo – Open 27-31 December, open 4 January onwards.
Three Williams, Open 27-30 December and 2 January

Eastern Suburbs
Bake Bar, Randwick – Open 24 – 31 December

North Shore
Bean Drinking, Crows Nest – Open 24 December, 27-31 December, 2 January
Anvil Coffee, Kirribilli – Open 24 December, 26 -31 December, 2 January

Northern Beaches
Belgrave Cartel, Manly – Open 23-24 December, 26-27 December, 30-31 December
Fika Swedish Kitchen, Manly – Open 23-31 December (reduced hours), open 2 January

South Sydney
The Jack of Harts and Jude, Engadine – Open from 29 December onwards

Western Suburbs
Youeni Foodstore, Castle Hill – Open 27-30 December and 2 January
Three Ropes, Parramatta – Open 27-30 December and 2 January

If you know of any other cafés opening over the break, let me know in the comments below. And have a fabulous Christmas/New Year’s, chums!

Serving coffee and coffee only, no brownies, no banana bread, no toast and nary a canelé in sight, Coffee Alchemy’s ‘Gumption’ launched last week with little fanfare and much positive word of mouth. You’ll find it on the ground floor or the iconic Strand Arcade on Sydney’s Pitt and George Streets.

Browse through writeup after writeup after writeup featuring the ever-humble Alchemy co-owner Hazel de los Reyes and you won’t be surprised by this lack of self-promotion. Although de los Reyes and Alchemy have won a slew of awards and are generally regarded as pilgrims of specialty coffee in New South Wales, they’re eager to let their coffee speak for itself.

Here’s what to expect at a place that serves coffee and coffee only. Expect to pay at least $4. Order and pay at the counter. Ask for a glass of water. Take a seat at one of turquoise benches. You may have to wait a while. One of the staff will bring you your brew. They will tell you what it is, and, whatever it may be, they will sound absurdly enthusiastic about it. Drink your coffee. Sit in the lovely Strand arcade (or, if there’s no room there, cram yourself into the standing room only section inside) and scrape out every. last. dab. of caffeine with that perfectly shaped spoon they have helpfully provided you. Have a lovely day.

In case you can’t tell, the large handful of visits I’ve had at Gumption have left me pretty impressed. They just really care about their coffee so damn much, and they know what on earth they’re supposed to do with it. I was always an Alchemy fan, but Addison Road is a long way from home, and this little nook is right on my way to work. And I love a place where ‘I’m just having a coffee’ is the only option for ordering, rather than a statement that causes the waiter to give me the side-eye.

So thank you, Hazel and crew, for setting up shop in the CBD. Long may you serve coffee at The Strand, and coffee only.

Gumption by Coffee Alchemy
Shop 11, The Strand Arcade (412-414 George Street)
Sydney, NSW 2000
02 9232 4199

Gumption by Coffee Alchemy on Urbanspoon

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