For an espresso-free caffeine experience that’s more akin to a meditation than a coffee break, Melbourne’s Assembly may be just what the coffee guru ordered. A compact minimilist caffeine shrine in inner Carlton, Assembly is about all things coffee- all things, that is, except espresso.

We arrive on a blustery Saturday morning well and truly ready for a warming brew. Assembly is a small, whitewashed, wood-panelled and filled with light. At the front of the space sits a small communal table that seats 6, temptingly laden with cakes as if we’d arrived just in time for morning tea. I spy Matt Forbes doughnuts amongst the cookies and cakes, almost impossible to resist, and there are arch-shaped indented wall shelves stocked with one of each and every third-wave coffee gizmo I know of.

Assembly’s mission is to spread the word of non-espresso brews. To this end, they source, and beautifully repackage, a range of teas and coffees from the likes of Reuben Hills, Market Lane and Small Batch. They painstakingly prepare the brews in-store, but you can also purchase beans and relevant coffee geek paraphernalia to take with you.

We’re run through the flavour profiles of four different filter coffee options. There are also 9 teas on offer. We try are the Los Nubes Miramar from Guatemala, roasted by Market Lane and the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere roasted by Market Lane, both black, as well as the Candyman blend, served with milk and roasted by Small Batch Roasters. There’s also the Finca El Naranjo from Honduras. The coffees are brewed one at a time, but for those who don’t have time to wait, there’s a cannister of batch brewed coffee ready to go, so you can help yourself to a paper cup and be on your way.

My partner in crime and I taste the two black coffees, and, serendipidously, I prefer the Los Nubes Miramar, with its gorgeous flavour of stone and dried fruits and nutty undertones, and he prefers the Yirgacheffe Kochere’s citrus and berry tones. The two couldn’t be more different, and we buy 100 grams of each for some further aeropress experimentation.

What I love about this concept is the ability to purchase tiny lots of beans – as little as 100g or even 50g, which means you’re buying what you will use in its optimum state – a dose of coffee is about 15 grams, so 100g will get you about 6 filter cups. It also means you can try a bunch of different beans and see what flavours tickle your fancy.

I’m surprised to find that I like the small space, and appreciate the communal feeling of sitting at the only table in the house and chatting to your neighbour. Assembly also have an online store, and you can join their ‘Coffee Fellowship’, in other words, buy a coffee subscription, either for yourself or as a gift for someone super caffeine-mad. *Hint hint*

Assembly Curated Coffee & Tea
60 Pelham Street Carlton VIC 3053
Monday – Friday 7:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday – Sunday 10:00am – 5:00pm

Assembly on Urbanspoon

When it comes to coffee, the Sydney CBD is a great place to grab-and-go. Following on from my list of 3 great hole-in-the-wall cafés, I thought I’d share a few places in the city where you can sit down and savour your caffeine hit, rather than slamming it down on the way to another of your high-flying business meetings. Here are three cafés that, in the midst of the rat race, are more than happy bring you your coffee in a ceramic cup.

1. Double Barrel Coffee Merchants
The Double Barrel crew take their coffee extremely seriously, sourcing beans from Melbourne’s Seven Seeds and Code Black and Byron’s Marvell Street Coffee Roasters, among others. They always have at least a blend and a single O on the go. For those of the black coffee persuasion, they batch brew filter coffee, but they’ll also happily do you a pourover or an aeropress to order at their not-quite-up-and-running filter bar. It’s not just coffee, either; these guys make everything from scratch, from the slow-cooked meat subs to the salted caramel tarts to the muffins. Sean and the team are happy to talk shop, so order and pay at the counter, pull up a seat and sip your brew and talk the ins and outs of coffee flavour profiles or play video games.

Double Barrel Coffee Merchants
33 York Street, Sydney NSW 2000
0413 683 949
Monday-Friday, 6:30am-5:00pm

Double Barrel on Urbanspoon

2. Marlowe’s Way
Marlowe’s may be a teensy place but if you time your visit right, you can nab a seat in this alleyway gem. Coffees seem ridiculously good value (a macch was $2.50 at the time of writing) and staff are super friendly. Each week one of their vintage teaspoons is chosen as ‘the magic spoon’, and whoever gets that spoon with their have-in coffee receives their second coffee for free, just one more reason to take 5 and have a real coffee break and drink out of a real cup. Marlowe’s uses a custom blend by The Little Marrionette, ‘the Banksian blend’, a fitting name for a café in the financial district. There’s usually a rotating single origin on offer, as well as artisanal teas and a basic Italian-inspired menu.

Marlowe’s Way
Cnr Tank Stream Way And Bridge Lane, Sydney NSW 2000
0432 487 598
Monday-Friday, 7:00am-4:00pm

Marlowe's Way on Urbanspoon

3. Cabrito Coffee Traders
A cosy cafe in the Circular Quay area is surprisingly hard to come by, but Cabrito, the Spanish/Portuguese word for ‘little goat’ or ‘kid’, fits the bill. The menu may be bare bones (nu-wave lamingtons, sandwiches, toast) but if you can get an inside seat in this cozy little establishment you’re in for attentive service and solid coffee. These guys are hoping to start roasting their own coffee in future (they’re in a heritage listed building) but for now its a custom-roasted 4 Rascals blend. Bonus: they’re open Saturdays, somewhat of a rarity in the Sydney CBD.

Cabrito Coffee Traders
10-14 Bulletin Place, Sydney NSW 2000
02 8065 8895
Monday-Friday, 7:00am-4:30pm
Saturday 8:00am-2:00pm

Cabrito Coffee Traders on Urbanspoon

Where’s your fave sit-and-sip café?

Tagged with:
 

My not-so-secret dirty secret is that I was born in Canberra. An unlikely place for a caffeine fiend to develop a love of coffee, maybe, but as a result I’m a frequest visitor, and often asked for a list of coffee recommendations. A friend recently asked me for said list, which I’ve been meaning to write for some time now, and I decided it would better to leave you in the learned hands of my mate and resident Canberra coffee espert, Barrister Barista, a regular contributor to The Canberran. You can also catch her bite-sized reviews on twitter. Here are her 5 picks for Canberra caffeine hits.

1. Lonsdale Street Roasters (and LSR 23)

Lonsdale Street Roasters is arguably where Canberra’s “hipster coffee scene” all started – own-roasted beans, central location, wood-oven toasted paninis, milk crates for chairs, a small and loyal following growing exponentially, and coffee like nothing you’ve ever tasted before in Canberra. Now, you’ll queue patiently in peak times, have your order spelled phonetically by fresh-from-Sydney ANU students, elbow your way into bench seats, and take for granted the sheer flavour of the cup in front of you. And only on Lonsdale Street can you visit two venues of the same name – if the weather’s fine and queues are prohibitively sized, you’ll find a more outdoor-focussed LSR doing the same thing up the street across from the shiny new apartment complex.

Lonsdale Street Roasters
3/7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT 2612

Lonsdale Street Roasters on Urbanspoon

Lonsdale Street Roasters 23
23 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT 2612

Lonsdale Street Roasters 23 on Urbanspoon

2. ONA Coffee

These guys are the pros, the ones who will sell you serious equipment for making coffee at home, the peeps who run, enter and win all of the local coffee awards for roasting and barista tech. You can try ONA Coffee in two locations, both southside. The most accessible ONA Coffee is at ‘The Lawns’ in Manuka, the snooty southside suburb you may visit if you’re on government business or meeting relatives. It’s busy in there, and only order food if you’re on a leisurely time schedule. The original ONA Coffeehouse is in Fyshwick, where you may visit if your business relates to furniture, DIY or porn. Less busy, equally excellent.


ONA Coffee House
68 Wollongong Street, Fyshwick ACT 2603

Ona Coffee House on Urbanspoon


ONA Coffee Manuka
Shop 4, The Lawns, Manuka ACT 2609

Ona Coffee Manuka on Urbanspoon

3. Lava Espresso

Perhaps the prettiest flat whites in Canberra, in the far from prettiest suburbs (no offence, Phillip). If your business in Canberra relates to cars or requires Westfield, take a small easy-park detour into industrial chic. Lava is a must for black coffee drinkers – the filter coffee is excellent and you’ll often be given a choice of two exotic growing locations. (FYI I normally reply Idunnowhicheverisbetter?). It’s also nice to be a in place where it’s acknowledged on the menu that ‘coffee with milk’ requires different treatment to just ‘coffee’. Bagel-based foods are also well-priced and tasty!

Lava Espresso
1/38 Townshend St, Phillip, ACT 2606 and
54 Brierly St, Weston Creek ACT 2611

Lava Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

4. Two Before Ten

OK, so your business in Canberra requires you to stay overnight in the soulful (ahem) ‘Civic’, and you’re looking for somewhere to grab a cheeky 8am breakfast? Two Before Ten, requiring some navigational nouse, will deliver friendly service and tasty eats at breakfast and lunchtime. Get yourself to the ‘plaza’ type space between Marcus Clarke St and Moore St, not as far East as the Melbourne Building (northwest corner of London Circuit and Northbourne Ave), take a deep breath, and look for bikes. Worth a visit, especially as the Qantas mag will soon be telling you about a groundbreaking venue called ‘A Baker’, a New Acton work in progress by the same owners.

Two Before Ten
40 Marcus Clarke St, Canberra, ACT 2601

Two Before Ten - Cafe & Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon

5. Močan and Green Grout

Speaking of the Qantas mag, this esoterically named project is a must-visit for foodie and/or interior architecture geeks. It’s the Canberra cafe with a fit-out so unique you’ll take photos and tell your Sydney friends that you discovered a really interesting little cafe in Canberra: a total hole in the wall, built entirely of woodchip and origami cranes. You’ll have small breakfast dishes that are actually about the right amount of calories for breakfast, and then, because you were expecting to gorge yourself, you’ll probably order a muffin to share afterwards. Your coffee won’t be memorable but it’ll be good.

Močan and Green Grout
19 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra, ACT 2601

Mocan & Green Grout on Urbanspoon

Barrister Barista is a regular contributor to The Canberran. You can also catch her bite-sized reviews on twitter.

Five café trends that keep the industry growing

Whether you’re looking to wile away the hours lingering over an aeropress on a sunny stoop or stop to quickly slurp down a ristretto, there’s no denying that we Sydneysiders are pretty bloody spoiled when it comes to café choice. This year, I had a the chance to pen a few reviews for The Sydney Morning Herald Good Café Guide 2013, which I more than jumped at. Here are 5 trends that’ll keep the Sydney café scene growing for the next 12 months.

  1. Migration south-westwards - despite what some of us may believe, coffee doesn’t begin and end with Surry Hills. Unsurprisingly, Marrickville did fantastically well at this years’ Good Café Guide Awards; although Surry Hills Cafés took out 3 of the 10 awards on offer, Marrickville’s Coffee Alchemy won ‘Best Coffee’, and 3 of the 13 coffees awarded 3 cups (a score of 18-20 out of 20) are located in Marrickville, a result unrivalled by any other Sydney suburb. ‘Best Café’ went to Circa in Parramatta, ‘Best New Café’ to inner-westie Excelsior Jones and a bunch of new cafés were added to the guide in other south west suburbs.
  2. Green bean obsession - whether is be microlots, single origin, home roasting or becoming bffs with the dude that harvests your beans, our coffee houses are fast filling up with coffee bean obsessives. What’s more, cafés without a knowledge of the raw materials look like they lack knowledge full stop, and knowing what’s what bean-wise is only going to become more important as time goes by.
  3. ‘Your local’ - this phrase still applies to our local watering hole, it’s just the beverages we’re consuming these days are of the stimulating variety. The barista is fast replacing the barkeep as the one we tell our troubles to, and multiple trips to grab that picollo each day mean we may spend more time at the espresso machine than having post-work beers with our work-mates.
  4. Alterna-brews just keep growing – From aeropress to syphon, cold drip to pourover, non-espresso black coffee methods with freshly ground beans gives new meaning to the phrase ‘hand-crafted coffee’. To cultivate any kind of rep for coffee geekery, step away from the espresso machine and get back to basics.
  5. Pop-ups, co-labs and add-ons – Last night at the SMH Good Café Guide Awards, Editor Jill Dupleix mentioned the rise and rise of what she called ‘the café plus’; the café-and-bakery, the café-and-bar, the café-and-barber, the café-and-kitchen-garden. I’d like to add to this the growing trend of pop-ups within cafés, collaborations between different food and non-food businesses, and things like beer tastings or late-night dinners after hours, not to mention coffee carts, vans and food trucks. Café patrons are more than happy to think, eat and drink outside the box, quite literally.

What makes a good café is relatively subjective, but it’s always fun I think to grab the guide and pore over it (perhaps over a café brekky?) and argue over why your fave coffee joint was hard done by, whereas that snooty place down the road doesn’t know its arse from its elbow. With 347 cafés reviewed, almost one for each day of the year, it’s really just the beginning as far as getting yourself caffeinated and brunched-up is concerned.

The Guide is available today in bookshops and online for $9.99. It will also be sold for $5 this Saturday with The Sydney Morning Herald.

What do you think are the big café trends right now?

Tagged with:
 

From home supper clubs to warehouse dinners, popups are all the rage these days, and the hype isn’t always warranted. But in the case of Smokey O’s slow southern style bbq, it certainly is, and a staunch band of devotees flock to their pork in the park lunches and regular appearances at north of the bridge market stalls to fill their bellies with bee bee cue goodness. So when I found out they were popping up at my local cafe, The Rag Land, I knew I had to go and get a taste of whatever Americana-inspired breakfast/brunch/lunch treats they’d have on offer.

Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th of May,The Rag Land menu was chucked out the window (not literally) as they took a break from their usually bacon-less fare to fill the place with Tim’s apple smoked maple bacon. Four of us made the trek down to Dave’s to get Tim’s spin on cafe food, washed down with Dave’s Golden Cobra coffee.

Reading the menu, it was hard to choose, partly because everything sounded similar-ish and partly because we weren’t 100% sure what each thing involved. Texas toast, for example – it just sounds like you placed the word ‘Texas’ in front of toast to make it sound more American-y. But it turns out Texas toast is thick cut toast fried on both sides. I’m not a huge toast person, but I’m massively into all things fritter, so I went for the corn griddle cakes served with apple smoked maple bacon and capsicum relish. That sounds good, right? I think you need a proper description to really sell this dish though.

Ok, so you you know bacon? I think we can all agree that bacon is excellent, and that the smell of it cooking is up there with baking bread and freshly-ground and brewed coffee. But take a homemade piece of bacon smoked over apple wood chips, and cook it until it is both crisp and soft. How does this heavenly piece of fat-bound protein even exist? Now imagine a pikelet-like fritter of polenta-y goodness, soft and pillowy, yet charred on the outside, studded with sweet bursts of corn kernels and somehow not gritty in the least. Drape the bacon over it. Now for the relish. Sweet and smokey, chunky yet strangely creamy, so delicious you take your plate back to the kitchen for a second massive dollop, you just can’t help yourself.

This was my breakfast on Monday May 13th at approximately 9:00am. And in the interest of full disclosure, 2 hours later I swam a kilometre. So.

As far as I’m concerned, most things go with coffee. But Golden Cobra’s signature punch-in-the-mouth was particularly good with the sweet ‘n smoky bacon. I went my standard macch for starters while perusing the menu, but then I wanted a black coffee, still espresso, but something a little bit different, because I’m a high maintainance broad.

I went for a sparkling double ris, it’s not on the menu but Dave’s always happy to whip one up if you ask – basically, it’s mineral water with a double ristretto shot over it, which creates a crazy volcano-like foaming (mine almost overflowed). You get this amazing temperature contrast, with the chilled mineral water on the bottom and the hot crema on the top. You can find a recipe for something similar here, or go try it for yourself at the Rag Land.

You can find Tim’s menu from the popup here. If Smokey-O’s has you salivating, you can find them at The Beaches “Welcome to Winter” Market on Sunday 23rd June at the Pittwater Rugby Park, Warriewood, on facebook and *possibly* at a Rag Land-meets-Smokey O’s stall at the Naidoc Family and Sports Day on Friday July 12 at the NCIE, Redfern. As for The Rag Land? You can find the deets here.

So apparently there’s a rumour going around that I’m multiple people, I *think* this might be because if you follow me on instagram I’m all over the place lately. Fear not, chums, I am the one and only Lauren Quinn of Corridor Kitchen, I’m just *ahem* between projects right now, and that gives me ample time to drink coffee all over. In the last two months I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Newcastle and surrounds, Canberra, Bendigo/Castlemaine/Daylesford, the Great Ocean Road, and even good old Melbourne town. And I bet you wanna know my go-to for espresso magic (and no, I don’t mean that bullshit flat white concoction) in Melbourne. ‘Cause good coffee in melbs is so hard to find.

The last couple of times I was in the Melbourne CBD, I made a beeline for Naked Espresso, a cute and well known place on Little Bourke Street. These guys use naked portafilters for their espresso (hence their name) but they also tick the specialty coffee box with their selection of ‘new brew’ techniques such as aeropress and pourover.

This place is a coffee nerd’s paradise; their blackboards list the day’s brews complete with tasting notes, and they sell enough different beans, gadgets and paraphernalia to keep the caffeine-obsessed happy for yonks. The coffee menu changes often, with appearances from the likes of Market Lane, Axil Coffee Roasters and even Naked’s own house blend. On my most recent visit, there were couple of Market lane single O’s on offer for syphon/pourover/aeropress, the house blend for espresso-based coffees and an Axil single origin as their guest coffee.

I sample the market lane Juan Ticona brewed as an Aeropress, it has a lovely chocolatey flavour, mild and delicious. My companion and I also go macch-wild on the house blend – vibrant, vivid, deep and bittersweet, it is an absolute pleasure to savour. Even the aftertaste is sublime.

The menu is a simple affair. There are a a few brekky things- toast and its cousins, baked eggs, porridge and an array of jaffles. They charge 50 cents for swapping/changing ingredients, which I think is fair enough. But this place is really about the coffee. Our house of worship, we are devotees at the caffeine alter. Freshly ground beans are our processional incense. I could sit here forever.

Naked Espresso
390 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
03 9670 3569

Naked Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Tagged with:
 

When it comes to cafes, word of mouth is a very powerful tool. Good word of mouth, before you’ve even opened, allows you to embed you café deep in a suburb, rather than jostling with the rest of the gun baristas for custom on the main drag. Hell, you can even start your own hub of hipness in a post-industrial wasteland.

It also ensures a good mix of truly local customers and those who are willing to really look for their next caffeine hit. A counterintuitive business strategy, but one which has been well established – make your product accessible, but not *too* convenient. Put your small bar down an allyway or behind a suit shop. Plant your flagship Aussie donut store in Penrith. Make your customers hunt around a bit. The rest is history.

So to say that Excelsior Jones is off the beaten path/in an unexpected place/not where you’d think would be a tad misleading. It’s exactly where you’d think- in a suburb crying out for a good café, and I’m betting there’ll be plenty more where this came from.

On Excelsior Jones’ second day of trade the place is packed with the caffeine-iratti, should such a thing exist, plus food bloggers/writers and curious locals. My companion and I order a pair of macchs and some toast. The cups are prewarmed (always a good sign) and I like the diy butter and veg for the toast – you never know what ratio a customer’s gonna want on their sourdough. Jones’ houseblend of five senses coffee goes down a treat with just a splash of milk – a bright flavour settling across the roof of the mouth, with a pleasant kick to follow.

The decor is warm minimalist, the colour scheme painstakingly well thought out. Everything is wood, warm grey, chocolate brown and white; even the cups, salt and pepper shakers and upcycled sugar jars harmonise, without being matchy-matchy. The whole place has a matt patina, loads of light and bare walls. It’s as beautiful as it is uplifting.

My second visit is just over a week later with two friends for an early public holiday Monday brekky. As I wait for my mates I sip away at my macch and browse the menu. This seems to be the family shift, mums, dads and under sevens, and a sprinkling of couples. The place is really loud, kind of a given with high ceilings, wooden floors, huge windows and small children. Once we’re a table of three we can barely hear each other speak. It’s something to keep in mind when timing your visit.

Menu-wise, there’s nothing over $16, but it is worth noting that servings aren’t huge. Between us we order the delectable sourdough pikelets (there are three), a fruit salad of poached and fresh summer fruits, a daub of yogurt and a pinch of oats, and eggs benny. Overall they are quality, simple breakfasts, what you’d expect but done with finesse. Sides aren’t cheap though, and you may need a few if you have a big breakfast appetite. Lucky for me, my usual gripe with brekky is that it leaves me too full, so I’m happy with the portion size.

The menu also includes lunch (which begins at noon) of two sambos, two salads, one cheeseburger and a pasta, as well as fries, and nuggets and chips for the kiddiewinks. The lunches that have been cluttering up my instagram feed appear simple and well presented.

I found the service to be relaxed, friendly and switched on. Staff were attentive, personable, and all-round lovely. There is strong attention to detail in everything these guys do, and I hope this continues. It would be an ideal setting for a bit of coffee gadgetry, and maybe a bit of experimentation menu-wise. Well-executed classics aside, I’d love to see these guys really get creative.

Excelsior Jones
139a Queen Street, Ashfield NSW 2131
02 9799 3240
www.excelsiorjones.com
Tuesday – Friday 7:30am – 4:00pm
Weekends 8:00am – 4:00pm
Closed Mondays

Excelsior Jones on Urbanspoon

I fear that Canberra, much like Sydney, is in serious danger of burning through its allocation of milk crates. Not because of the popularity of milk, but rather because they serve as seating for the crop of on-trend cafés popping up in old (but not in a retro way) shopfronts all over town. I love/hate this trend for numerous reasons. Milk crates are fine to sit on (with cushioning); they serve as a signal to customers, ‘take this coffee joint seriously’. But while they look incidental, in an ‘oh we were just SO BUSY making GROUNDBREAKING espresso we forgot to buy chairs!’ kind of a way, they are entirely deliberate. This is why there’s a countrywide shortage. I assume.

Red Brick espresso is no exception. Milk crates are scattered plentifully out the front of this Curtin café, and they’ve taken it to another level with the accompanying tables, made of bread crates. I hope there’s not a delivery guy out Fyshwick way somewhere going broke for lack of crates.

We stand at the counter for a while waiting to order, staff seem a little harried so we wait as they hand out the takeaways. We order coffee and seat ourselves in the unmistakeably Canberran, light-filled and cleverly renovated space, which, as we’re in the southside of Canberra, could’ve been anything in a past life- a house, a pharmacy, or a sex shop – all roads lead to rectangular brick structures. The guys behind the espresso machine look like they know what’s what – they roast their own coffee here, and are well and truly the third wave.

The coffee arrives. One of our piccolos is spilled a bit and the young waitress runs and grabs us a serviette. How about a fresh saucer? The spillage is hardly her fault though, the piccolos are almost flat white flat. My macch is cool, as are all the coffees, and nothing about the flavour grabs me. It’s fine, I can’t fault the method on my macch (other than the temperature, and I’m not a hot coffee drinker), so maybe this blend just isn’t for me.

The Red Brick Espresso Hombres were recently quoted in Cafe Culture as saying “We looked at what’s happening elsewhere and said, ‘why can’t we do it here?’ Red Brick ticks all the boxes and, if I lived in this neck of the woods, I’d be here daily. But no matter how many milk crates you give someone to sit on or whether you roast your own beans, it all goes to crap when a teenage girl spills your latte. And for the record, I’ve been back since, the coffee was still lukewarm, and I’ve heard the same from others. But I guess if I was from New York and came to visit my mates in Surry Hills, I’d feel like the café culture here is just a watered down version of what’s going on back home. For all I know the Williamsberg peeps are sitting on upturned shopping trolleys these days. I pray that trend doesn’t make it here.

Red Brick Espresso
4/35 Curtin Place, Curtin ACT 2605
02 6285 1668
http://www.redbrickespresso.com.au/
Monday-Friday 7:30am – 4:30pm
Saturday 7:30am – 4:00pm
Sundays 7:00am – 2:00pm

Red Brick Espresso on Urbanspoon

Tagged with:
 

I’m really glad I’ve started taking daily walks. Ok, so I sound like a 65 year old woman, but it was on my very first such ‘constitutional’ that I spotted Sub-Station, a cute (but sadly closed that day) little cafe in Alexandria. I told my man-friend about the place and he beat me to it that very week, getting the inside scoop via his charming personality (note to self: get a charming personality).

Sub-Station Cafe opened just over a month ago in, you guessed it, Alexandria. It is housed in a beautifully renovated electric substation (Substation 152), a long narrow space with a fantastic indoor/outdoor area, warmly minimalist with a homey touch. The attention to detail in the decor is to be admired, from the patina of the floor to the bare bulb light fittings crafted from bedsprings.

Sub-Station has a spotlight-on-the-ingredients kind of café menu. We ordered the Avocado Toast to share which was a generous plate of soy and linseed toast and seasoned fresh tomato and avocado. I like the diy approach, which is the same for their big breakky, a kind of platter of various toast toppings plus eggs. They also have a lunch menu of sambos and salads. It’s all very simple, fresh food, assembled more than cooked, that seems to be all the rage right now in Sydney, especially at bakeries or coffee obsessed cafés. Personally I am a fan of this kind of menu as there’s only so much candied bacon I can take.

Either their single origin house blend is amazing or they have an amazingly skilled barista on staff (you never can tell). Case in point my man and me had not one criticism to make in terms of either flavour or form. After three visits, I can’t fault them, and among our crew we’ve sampled macchs, picollos, caps and espressos- all black or full cream milk coffees, no sugar, an espresso nazi’s dream. Maybe a soy (they use bonsoy) or skim drinker will have a different take on the place.

Any criticisms I have are not related to the coffee or the food. It’s order and pay at the counter, but there’s no real way of knowing that unless you ask. This can lead to awkwardness, like when a waitress comes to take away your empty cups and plates and you ask for another coffee… Do they want you to pay now? Oh no, that’s ok. But wait, isn’t it order and pay at the counter? Confusing. Also it’s always easier to upsell and people are more likely to order more coffees when there’s a bill at the end, that’s just human nature, but at the very least it needs to be well signposted.

And on the subject of signposts, I think it’s a good idea to have more than one copy of a printed menu available, or some kind of massive blackboard up. Basically, without food choices written up, people may not know you serve food, although I would say all the delectable loaves of bread stacked up everywhere, plus the food prep going on, would give you a clue. The first time I went, there was one menu for the whole place. The second time, no menus. Unfortunately, people need to be told what’s what, e.g. ‘Here’s a list of what we serve. Please order and pay at the counter.’

Those two criticisms aside, this is a brand new business which is still finding its feet and barely stumbling. It’s run by really friendly people and housed in a gorgeous space, with a tempting but simple menu and excellent coffee. I am completely stoked to have these guys in my ‘hood.



Sub-Station Cafe
124 Mcevoy Street Alexandria NSW 2015
Monday – Friday 6:30am – 4:00pm
Saturday 8:00am – 4:00pm
www.facebook.com/SubStationCafe
Closed Sundays (for now)

Sub-Station Cafe on Urbanspoon

Time was if I told someone I lives in Alexandria, I’d have to explain where it was. Usually I’d just say Redfern. More recently, mention Alexandria and you conjur up images of chic warehouse hotspots like The Grounds or Kitchen by Mike. That’s just dandy, but those are hardly ‘stroll-in-for-a-quick-coffee’ joints.

So it is with a touch of trepidation I begin this post on The Rag Land, a new cafe on Raglan street in Waterloo which is relatively unknown. A couple of weeks ago they liked me on facebook and when I saw where they were located, my heart skipped a beat and I liked them back. And when I read that they serve Golden Cobra Coffee, of which I am a fan, I was extra psyched to give them a go.

I popped in on a weekday morning for a rich strong macchiato and a spot of eavesdropping. I was only one of three customers, the other two ladies were super excited to quiz the owner on his new business and tell him all about the area. They seemed pretty happy to have a cafe nearby and I have to say that after 8 years living in the ‘hood I tend to agree. It’s good to have another solid local business in the area.

An old Polish deli, the place has been kitted out with secondhand/upcycled/repurposed goods, most of which are for sale. Its really the first business of this type in the immediate area, the nearest cafes being up the road on Regent Street. The space looks like what it is – an old shop that’s been whitewashed and adorned with bric a brac. I’ve been by twice now and both times have been good, if a tad awkward in that we’re-a-new-business kinda way.

Owners Dave and Laura, previously of Dj Espresso have put together a solid menu of breakkies and sambos which I think is priced well for the area. There’s plenty of Pork Belly, which they hope to make their ‘thing’. I’ve had a few coffees there and some delicious smashed eggs, a generous portion of sourdough slices laden with boiled eggs, avo and parsley-heavy salsa. I have to say I’m impressed.

The Rag Land
129 Raglan St,Waterloo NSW 2017
http://theragland.tumblr.com/

Tuesday–Friday 7:00am-3:00pm
Saturday 8:00am-3:00pm
Sunday 9:00am-2:00pm
Closed Mondays

The Rag Land on Urbanspoon

Tagged with:
 
Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.
Get Adobe Flash player