Cure » Coffee


Rosettas for Relief – A Barista Throwdown. Photos.

I don’t have much to say other than it’s great to see so many people who are great at what they do to come together for a giant pissing contest. Was a great night and thanks go to Market Lane for hosting such a great event. Here’s a collection of photos that were mainly taken by Tresna.

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Ceramics at Padre Coffee

There is this concept in Japanese cooking that a piece of food on a plain plate is naked – an insult to the food. This is why sushi is always served on beautiful ceramics. It’s an oft forgotten idea – that the plate is as much a part of the meal as the food. We eat with our eyes so why not focus more on the crockery.

Padre Coffee in the South Melbourne Market (and I assume the East Brunswick store) haven’t forgotten. They are serving their coffees on the most beautiful hand-made ceramics. They are made by Karen Ho; a regular at the East Brunswick store; at the Carlton Arts Center. For such a simple thing, they add an amazing warmth to the coffee – something that no machine or bean can reproduce.Ceramic Coffee CupCeramic Coffee SaucerCeramic Coffee Mug

On Being a Regular

Motogrill There is nothing better than being a regular at your favourite bar or coffee shop. It’s like the Cheers song, you keep going back because everyone knows your name and they are glad you came. It’s as though even the coffee tastes better when it’s served by a barista that knows your order or a barman that knows you like heaps of ice in your drink.

It’s probably been about 18 months since last I had a coffee at Motogrill. I wouldn’t have ever considered myself a regular there but after a few minutes of sitting at the counter one of the owners turns around and asks, “You guys haven’t been in here for a while, have you?” She even remembered the running joke I had with one of the baristas about how they needed to serve beer. Turns out, now they do.

Not much else has changed, the menu is still about 8 different dishes, written on a blackboard above the stove. The cafe itself is bigger, but the furniture is still the same and I think I spotted a NZ Snowboarder magazine that I read 2 years ago sitting on the same table.

It is so easy to get caught up in the launch of a new cafe, the latest coffee brewing method or a new menu at a cool cafe. But it is little things like the barista knowing your order and the waitress knowing your name that actually mean something.

Freestyle Espresso opening in South Melbourne

Freestyle Espresso, South Melbourne It seems a new cafe, “Freestyle Espresso” is opening on Union St in South Melbourne. It is in the old Peter Watson shop and with a new sign and a few fliers in the window describing “Food, glorious food, coffee… Yeh… Really good coffee, gourmet pastries + delights takeaway deliciousness, sweet things + surrrrrprises to come”

Looks good, I’m excited to see somewhere new opening in what is already a crowded space. It will also be interesting to see who supplies the coffee. Most of the 3rd Wave roasters are represented in a 2 block radius of this place. I’m betting on Coffee Supreme.

Freestyle Espresso Coming Soon

Miss Jackson, St Kilda

Miss JacksonEvery time I’m on my way to Miss Jackson all I can think about is that song, “I’m sorry Miss Jackson, I am for real” it’s really annoying because I should be thinking how Miss Jackson is going to help me from my hangover, you know, for real. After watching the film clip, now I’m going to expect someone to be washing their pimped out car out the front and dogs nodding their heads at me as I walk up Gray St. All of this and no hallucinogens.

Wedged down an alley between halfway houses, backpacker travel agents and a few seedy nightclubs, Miss Jackson is a shining beacon of class in an otherwise classless (apologies to the Melbourne Wine Room, none such to the ever-so-trashy George lane-way bar) area. The café itself is a converted house that reminds me more of a rabbit warren than a café, the smaller nooks don’t quite fit the tables that they contain. It’s nowhere near as cramped as Wall 280 in Balaclava and there it adds “character”. Nonetheless the place has character and the larger communal tables are comfortable and spacious. There’s also an outdoor area, which thankfully parents seem to utilise to entertain their wild children.

TMiss Jackson: Corn Fritters, Bacon and Tomatoshe menu is everything you would expect without being outstanding. Corn fritters, steak sandwiches, and eggs every which way. But what the menu lacks in excitement it makes up with in the execution. While you might cook everything on the menu at home, it simply won’t be as good.

The portions are great, the food looks amazing and best of all it tastes spot on. In fact, of all the cafés around, Miss Jackson is my favourite for a comforting, hangover curing breakfast – morning or afternoon. Perhaps this is cause of a subtle focus on booze. There is beer and wine on the menu and a few bottles of spirits peeking out from behind the bar – important for my personal favourite menu item.

Bloody Mary, Miss JacksonThe “superstar DJ” bloody mary is everything you could want in this breakfast cocktail – good spice and acidity and a healthy sprig of celery. A bloody mary is tricky to get right at the best of times and they come out with amazing consistency.

The guys that run this place (Steve and Matt) are clearly drinkers – it shows – they know what’s good for you.

More photos on Flickr.

A Year of Coffee in Melbourne

Short Black at Padre CoffeeA week is a long time in football, and in a city as fascinated with coffee as it is with football, a year is an eternity in the world of cafes. Today marks the 1st birthday of Seven Seeds, one of the superstars of coffee in Melbourne. Happy Birthday Seven Seeds.

It is amazing to think that since the opening of Seven Seeds there have been so many other great coffee shop openings. So many in fact that Seven Seeds feels as though it is one of the “old boys.” It will be fascinating to see how the “scene” evolves over the next year.

Putting it all into context I’ve constructed something of a timeline of the last years specialty coffee shop openings. The dates aren’t exact (and I would welcome corrections) but they are pretty close.

Cafes opening aren’t the only thing that has happened in the last year either, the blog coverage of cafes in Melbourne has gone through the roof with the usual suspects spending as much time reviewing cafes as restaurants. There is one specialty coffee blog though that has been providing an attempt at objective reviews of the coffee being served across the city. Backseat Baristas is doing a great job and can only get better as they refine the concept.

Like in so many other facets of life Twitter has become the best way to talk to people who are involved in the industry and coffee is no different. I have created a coffee list of the people I follow. It’s a great way to keep an ear to the ground.

In a summary of the year I would be remiss to ignore the fact that the actual coffee has changed quite considerably. Seven Seeds, St Ali, 5 Senses, Market Lane and Small Batch seem to be all be expanding the number of cafes they are supplying with beans and places like Dead Man are making the most out of the variety.

Experiencing these coffees has never been easier either with Seven Seeds and Market Lane (that I know of) doing daily cuppings.

This isn’t to mention alternative brewing methods which seems to have had a massive boom. The syphon has gone from strength to strength with a good number of these cafes using it. Pour over seems to be the flavour of the day though, with it allowing some subtle flavours to really poke through.

Coffee @ The Cupping Room, Hobart

The Cupping Room, Hobart It’s billed as “a team of coffee pro’s doing what we do because we love it. Here you will find all things coffee done the way we like it. We think you will like it too. :-).” It’s 3rd Wave coffee in Hobart so I had to try, but I left feeling a little bit underwhelmed. The Cupping Room is so close yet so far to being a great ambassador for the specialty coffee movement.

The setup is great. A huge warehouse with room for plenty of beans, roasters, a cupping station and a great open feeling cafe. The fit-out is well done, great furniture, some classy light fittings and some nice street art keeping the atmosphere light. There is a huge blackboard listing around 50 single origins that are stocked with the available beans highlighted. Taking this classy setup down a notch is the gold stencil of “The Slayer” on the back of what is a beautiful looking piece of hardware. Tacky.

The service though is left lacking, the decision not to provide table service confuses me at any cafe. But here, when the product is a new way of experiencing coffee which the public is not familiar with, it is all but criminal.

The Cupping Room, HobartSpecialty Coffee is complicated and confusing but at the same time it is very rewarding for the drinker. The price of a great cup of coffee is downright cheap, but someone new to the experience just needs a little pushing. A specialty coffee menu (like a good wine list) can be intimidating and an uninitiated customer just wants a latte or a flat white. They don’t care about the Tanzanian Peaberry or the Mexican HG Chipas. But with a little staff guidance they could become an easy convert.

The biggest let down though, was the execution of the coffee. To be fair, my double espresso a Tanzanian Peaberry was good. Rich fruit flavours with a hint of bitterness. The 2 lattes on the other hand were a disappointment. The first latte was well presented, but the milk was watery, completely lacking the creamy richness which I expect from a good coffee shop. I suspect some of this is to do with the milk itself, I spotted a bottle of Pura Full Cream on the counter.

The Cupping Room, Hobart

The take-away machine

Finally, I made my way again to the counter for a take-away coffee to make my walk through Hobart bearable. A take-away latte with the Mexican single-origin didn’t seem like too difficult a request but you can imagine my surprise when it was turned down. Apparently they don’t make take-away coffees through the Slayer and the waitress told me perhaps that they would if there weren’t so many coffees up. Apparently people drinking take-away coffee don’t deserve the same choice as dine in.

It didn’t matter, the latte was passable, definitely not good. It had an earthy flavour and the same watery milk. I walked away with sub-par coffee and the opportunity for the Cupping Room’s coffee to redeem itself was wasted.

I’ll be back to give it another go, but there’s other coffee in Hobart I hear is worth trying. So I won’t be rushing.

Thanks go to Nola for pointing me in the direction of the Cupping Room. Her review (with food) is here.