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
• 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
6-8 O’Connell Street
Newtown NSW 2042
02 9519 2920
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.
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
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
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
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
Bake Bar, Randwick – Open 24 – 31 December
The Jack of Harts and Jude, Engadine – Open from 29 December onwards
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.
Gumption by Coffee Alchemy
Shop 11, The Strand Arcade (412-414 George Street)
Sydney, NSW 2000
02 9232 4199
It’s interesting to watch the buzz around a new cafe build over time. The first few times I popped in to Three Williams in Redfern, it was pretty empty, but then again, it’s a fair bit larger than your average Redfern haunt. Locals and cafe addicts were coming and going and I could see that interest was building. Last week, my instagram feed was littered with brekky porn shots from the soon-to-be Redfern fixture, street press had written them up, and last Sunday arvo I walked past and there was not a table to spare.
A few days after they openend, I found myself sipping a Single Origin ‘Paradox’ blend macch in the former mid-century furniture storeroom, bathed in morning sunlight and attended to by eager staff in snazzy aprons. The space is vast, with tables well placed, the floors are concrete and there’s a lot of wood panelling, which makes for a noisy atmosphere at times.
My first visit, I found it odd that brekky finished at 11:45 am – all day brekky is very much standard in Sydney cafes, and I tweeted as much. I just had a couple of coffees and I was more than happy with them. My second visit, I had the smashed beans an avo on toast. It was basically mashed avo and baked beans on toast, but it was damn tasty and damn filling to boot, a serving so generous that I actually couldn’t finish it (and this was immediately after a 1km swim).
By my third visit, the menu had been updated to all day lunch and all day brekky, so I nabbed a chicken salad at the ungodly lunch hour of 9am. I enjoyed it, but it was quite salty; I don’t think the salad itself needed seasoning as the chicken was already salty. To be fair, I didn’t pass this info on to the staff because I was too hungry to care. My dining companions each ordered the poached egg special, which comes with jamon and bullhorn peppers. They subbed in tomatoes for jamon for my mum, who’s vego, which was nice of them, and the eggs provided the requisite liquid yolks for optimal egg porn.
The kinks are still being ironed out here, but overall I would say it is a friendly place, they’re receptive to feedback, the space is lovely, the food and coffee are solid, there isn’t anything quite like it in the area, and they’re open 7 days, which doesn’t hurt either. There is a liquor licence pending so I’m excited to see whether these guys delve into dinner as well.
I still want to go back and try their ‘narnies’ (sandwiches made of naan bread), the fries, which look incredible, and the cute little fish croquettes, arranged in little egg cartons and served with lemon and aioli. Three Williams is a good brunch/lunch option in this hood, but get in quick before this place is completely packed out.
613a Elizabeth St
Redfern, NSW 2016
(02) 9698 1111
Monday – Sunday 7:00am – 4:00pm
Is there anything more inspiring than someone who actually gives a fuck? Case in point, I’ve found myself in a conversation with Little Indi co-owner Frank Meura on the finer points of biodegradation. I think. I’m not 100% on what he’s on about, but I am appreciating the passion and earnestness for the subject. That, and the excellent cup of hand-pumped espresso (in the form of a macchiato) I’m sipping away at. I’m nursing it in its little bowl like its a precious baby.
I haven’t yet ordered anything to eat from their vego, sustainable menu, but judging by the delicious bruschetta-like item chef Rebecca Chippington (formerly Revolver) has just dished up, I probably should have; it is a gorgeous mess of boiled eggs, avo, herbs nuts and cheese piled high on a thick, seedy slab of Iggy’s bread, ‘made with love,’ she grins. I’m wishing I’d skipped brekky so I could have some.
It’s been almost a year since the pairs’ Surry Hills pop up ‘Naked Indiana’ finished. Their new project, Little Indi is located in an industrial laneway in Alexandria and serves a rotating vego menu with a raw/vegan focus. They are also selling the produce they use direct to the public, acting as a point of convergance for independent aussie food and drink businesses. Everything at Little Indi is local, at the very least, Australian; if they can’t get it from this wide brown land, they don’t use it. Everything they use is recycled and composted, nothing goes to waste. And the coffee, using Public Grounds beans, is damn good.
I notice the sign offering a 30c discount on coffees for those who bring their own cup for takeaway. Frank tells me that’s not really taking off. ‘I lend people my cups instead, but you know, I’m running low, so…’ I love this idea; I hate the sensation of sipping coffee from a paper cup; it just doesn’t feel like a coffee break if I’m gulping my caffeine from a flimsy disposable receptacle.
I have to say it’s refreshing to meet two people so genuinely excited about something I can’t much be bothered thinking about. In an age where concepts like ‘sustainable’ ‘green’ or ‘raw food’ can act as little more than buzzwords, meeting a pair of ethical entreprenuers who actually, no joke, want to ‘get active in saving our environment’ is kind of lovely. And the reason a place like Little Indi works so well is that even if you could care less about any of the things that drive it, if you love good food and good coffee, it’s for you. I’m thinking I’ll be back to pop in for a coffee or maybe some of that old-school cream-topped Tilba milk they use.
50 McCauley Street
Alexandria NSW 2015
Tuesday – Friday 7:00am – 2:30pm
When someone, anyone, waxes lyrical about cafes in Melbourne, their raving can generally be taken with a grain of salt. But mention Patricia Coffee Brewers and your barista’s eyes will take on a dreamy sheen. It’s the kind of place that every coffee pro dreams of opening.
Patricia sits on the eastern side of Melbourne’s CBD, a stone’s thrown from Flagstaff and Southern Cross stations. You’ll find it down Little William Street, on the corner of Little Bourke.
Standing room only, Patricia is all about the coffee. With expertly trained staff and discerning customers – Patricia is a cosy little haven in from Melbourne’s mercurial weather that knows exactly what the hell it’s on about. It was started by St Ali/Seven Seeds vetaran Bowen Holden, read his story here and try not to fall in love with his passionate, commonsense approach.
Patricia sources, serves and beautifully repackages (for take home) coffee from Melbourne’s cream of the crop; the likes of Small Batch, Proud Mary, Market Lane et. al. are well represented here. Since its standing room only, you may as well order your coffee in a ceramic cup (black or filter $3.50, white $3.80), stand at one of the bars that line the narrow room and sip away.
For those who absolutely must sit, there are a few milk crates strewn around the laneway outside. There are a few pastries, cookies and the baked-treat-of-the-moment, caneles, but other than that, it’s coffee or bust. For me, it’s rare not to included Patricia in a visit to Melbourne.
Patricia Coffee Brewers
Cnr Little Bourke & Little William St.
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
Monday – Friday 7:00am – 4:00pm
03 9642 2237
- Aerpress means no more shit #travelcoffee and #workcoffee
- Why I write and four ace bloggers who do it better
- The five best things I ate in London
- Shoreditch is awesome, airports are not
- I quit sugar? Do I bollocks.
- Cubao Street Food, Alexandria
- The Reformatory Caffeine Lab, Surry Hills
- Brewtown Newtown
- Stay caffeinated over Christmas
- Gumption by Coffee Alchemy, Sydney CBD
Popular posts this month…
- Cubao Street Food, Alexandria posted on May 26, 2014
- Café review – Flint and Steel (Coffee Alchemy), Marrickville posted on March 1, 2011
- The Reformatory Caffeine Lab, Surry Hills posted on February 14, 2014
- The quest for Mex part 2 – Feisty Chicken Burritos posted on December 21, 2010
- How not to order a takeaway coffee posted on March 15, 2011
- Kosher Whole Orange Cake posted on July 5, 2011
- Desert Island Potatos posted on December 3, 2010
- Gumption by Coffee Alchemy, Sydney CBD posted on December 13, 2013
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Australia License.
Disclaimer:All opinions in this blog are mine, an everyday, real-life person. I do not accept payment for reviews and nor do I write sponsored posts. I do not endorse the content of the comments herein.