Category Archives: Adelaide

When you do what you do, how do you do it? Drinking or Tasting Coffee

Cupping - not spooning!

When I was first introduced to the world’s second most traded commodity (i.e. coffee – just in case I had already lost you) I was simply  – like most people – a coffee drinker.  I loved the flavour, I loved the atmosphere of the coffee place, I loved the social and communal aspects of coffee – but I could down a latte pretty quickly, and tell you it was nice.  When I become more serious about coffee and purchased a half decent home espresso machine I was still an avid coffee drinker for all of the above reasons (well other than atmosphere – because I was making coffee in my family room – most likely with Octonauts on in the background…not quite Paddy’s Lantern or Bar9) but then a number of things happened which  encouraged me to consider more than just drinking coffee, but to also appreciate coffee for what, where and how it is what it is.

Firstly – I read the  book “God in a Cup: the obsessive quest for the perfect coffee” – which introduced me, on a far deeper level, to the world of speciality coffee – and the 400 or so taste variants that the experts can detect when they ‘taste’ their coffee – I took this as a challenge.

Then – I was introduced to the ristretto – a wonderful little coffee drink – the first 15mls of a single shot to be precise – which is super sweet, low on the caffeine, minus any bitterness  and highlights so much more of the unique bean qualities than does your average latte or cappuccino.

Ristretto from the Coffee Branch

Then I purchased some beans from Barossa Coffee Roasters, which came with tasting notes – including bean origin, and likely flavour profiles etc. and all of a sudden I was drinking my coffee in a more mindful way.  I began savouring the experience and seeing if I could detect the individual flavour nuances on the front of the tongue verses the back of the tongue – the dominant after taste etc with the result that my coffee drinking experience became much deeper and fulfilling.

If you are interested in developing your pallete from that of a coffee drinking to a coffee taster – check out this excellent post on the James Hoffman blog by clicking the link.  Also, for those in Adelaide – if you want to go that next step, Ian Callahan over at Bar 9 is conducting a Cupping Night next week – for more information, click HERE – so wish I could make it!!

If you need to see how it is done, this You Tube clip is pretty good.  Life is too short for instant coffee!

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Blefari Caffe & Cucina – Adelaide, SA

182 Victoria Square, Adelaide CBD, SA 5000

As I walked around the Adelaide CBD last week, it seriously blew me away hour many cafés and speciality coffee places are around the place. If you decided to work your way through the city, starting at one end of North Terrace and systematically working your way down and up every street, and lane – it would seriously take you a year (especially if you wanted to sleep at some stage….perhaps an idea for a future blog??).  I had heard of Blefari, only because I have been hounding the guys at Veneziano about when the ‘First Pour Adelaide’ will be opening on Melbourne Street – and they told me, in the mean time, to check out this place.

Located on the ground floor of the ‘Flinders University’ building – or at least that is what the sign on the roof says; I thought it was one of the Premier’s Department buildings – Bleflari looks like your typical ground floor of an office building café come cafeteria – and I guess, I considering that is what they are – then they hit the mark.  If you can get a table outside, either looking across the road at Pilgrim Uniting, or at the grassy knoll on Victoria Square – then the quality of the ambience increases ten fold.

I ventured in around 1:30pm and the place was busy – all tables but one inside were full – but service was quick and efficient – and I was soon at my outside table, book in hand enjoying the sunshine. The coffees arrived in around 3 minutes – which is super fast, and the guy who delivered them was able to fill me in, in what I was about to drink.

Just in case you were wondering what a ‘Cucina’ is – well according to an Italian to English Translator it is a “noun –  kitchen; cooker, stove; cookery, cuisine” – hopefully that helps.

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Delish Espresso – Adelaide, SA

195 Victoria Square, Adelaide CBD, SA 5000

Located in the centre of the city, facing the generally beautiful Victoria Square (at this time of year it resembles a fancy smancy caravan park – with all the tents and temporary buildings of the Tour Down Under) Delish Espresso is the last in a line of cafés that begin at the Franklin Street end and create a wall of caffeinated opportunities heading south. What sets Delish apart is also what drew me to them in my search for quality coffee, is that they are the only one NOT sporting some kind of large coffee roasting company paraphernalia on their store, umbrellas and bollards.

A fairly small establishment, with plenty of outdoor seating (6 tables outside, 2 inside) – Delish is run by Barista Marcus Clarke (I assume NOT of the State Bank) and when I was there – his Mum – serving ’boutique coffee’ and light lunches to the many suits (lawyers, bankers, journalists and politicians) that frequent the area.  My order was quickly received – after the possibility of a ristretto was confirmed with Marcus –  the ultimate of espresso beverages does not appear on the menu board – and I took my seat amidst the ambience of the poplar shaded alfresco area to wait.  In less than 2 minutes, Marcus had brought my coffees to the table and when asked about his coffee blend, he told me that he blends his own beans, sourced from 5 Senses.

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Coffee Branch – Adelaide, SA

32 Leigh Street, Adelaide CBD, SA, 5000

 Not sure how long the Coffee Branch has been open for – but for quite awhile it has been the place of legend.  Even amongst the quality baristas that are popping up all around the city, they speak of the coffee experience at ‘the branch’ in hushed, awestruck tones…and finally – much like Bilbo on his way to Smaug’s Mountain – I made it to Coffee Branch.

Nestled in a ‘hole in the wall’ on the very trendy Leigh Street (complete with tree growing out of a Volkwagon Beetle – I kid you not) – this is one of Adelaide’s premium speciality coffee houses – it even has bicycles hanging on the wall – that is how premium it is!!  What you can’t see from the photo – just off to the left – is a ‘gate’ style architectural feature which will remind worldly travellers of a poor man’s ‘Nottinghill Gate’ – or similar, that you will find dotted all over London.

I arrived at 10:45am on a working Wednesday – and the line was still out the door.  I had been warned not to arrive in the peak hours of before work, lunch time, smoko, and after work – because the line is ridiculous – but I was surprised, and yet at the same time not – that the line was still out there. Once getting in the line, it took of all three minutes to get to the front and place my order – and I ventured out back into the tree lined street to commandeer one of the tables (there are only 2 of them) – there is some bench seating inside and a few tables at the back – but I suspect that most of their business is take away.

I thought to myself, based on previous experiences in 2012 – that this could take awhile – so I, checked into Foursquare, opened my book and before I got to the bottom of the first paragraph (about 3 minutes) my latte was being delivered – and soon after that, my ristretto… Read the rest of this entry

A’ vila Coffee – Adelaide, SA

22 Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide, SA, 5000

This is one of those fortunate occurrences, that some would call luck, some would call an answer to prayer – while others, to quote Sheldon “who are unfamiliar with the law of large numbers would think this to be a coincidence.”  But on my most recent trip to the city for a day of coffee and reading (also in preparation for my next 21st birthday) I  decided that I wanted to check out The Espresso Room, Coffee Branch and if time allowed – another place.  Well as time and weather would have it, I made it to The Espresso Room, had to rush past Coffee Branch on my way to NOT BE LATE for lunch with my mother, and then after a quick search on The Beanhunter discovered this gem across the square from my Mother’s office.  On a side note, I had tweeted Campos Coffee a few weeks back trying to find out if anyone in Adelaide served their beans…and now I discover this place, who since their grand opening in early October, have become the ONLY place in Adelaide for Campos.

Nestled in a nice part of the city, you’ll find A’Vila coffee – named such, because the of the Spanish inspired colour scheme that was already in place when the current owner decided to turn it into a coffee place (the staff tell me it  has been toned down a bit…).  In what I like to call the ‘old Academy Cinema City’ part of Hindmarsh Square, A’Vila is pretty much adjacent to the new Crown Plaza hotel, with a nice view of the recently re-grassed landscaping of the square.  If you squint, you can also see the guy (there was only one the day I was there) who is the Occupy Adelaide protest….

With the possibility of outdoor seating, this place was a quiet spot for a coffee and a chance to recoup before the drive home. So, to the coffee review… Read the rest of this entry

The Top 5 – Christmas 2011 Update

The Top 5 – Christmas 2011 Update

  1. Paddy’s Lantern – Adelaide, SA: This place launched not long after I signed up to Twitter – and there was some hullaballo when it opened – and on my first try, I was not disappointed. Hard to find with crap parking – but a great comfortable interior, serving 5 Senses coffee from a sexy Synesso machine – and awesome light lunches.
  2. The Pantry on Egmont – Hawthorn, SA: In this little out of the way cafe in the leafy greenness that is Hawthorn, lurks Stef and the team – with a great love of coffee, serving the excellent locally roasted Dr Groot – this place is just wonderful. Russell does a great breakfast too!
  3. The Two Bees Café – Victor Harbor, SA:  Whenever I get the opportunity or have the need to travel the 22kms down the coast to Victor, this is the place where I MUST stop and grab a latte.  Serving fantastic Zentveld’s from Byron Bay, The Two Bees has super friendly staff, great food and in good weather a great view down towards the Island.
  4. Coffee By The Beans – Lockleys, SA: Another one of these great places in strange locations – this is a must stop if you are going too or coming from the airport.  Roasting their own beans off site, Vincent, Daniel and Richard are serious about coffee and are serious about you liking their product.  The only draw back in the location and the fact that they don’t do online shopping….
  5. A’Vila Coffee – Adelaide, SA: The nearly not yet review place serves the legendary Campos Coffee – so this MUST make the top 5. Located near the old Academy Cinema City in Hindmarsh Square, these guys love their coffee – and so did I.

The Espresso Room – Adelaide, SA

57 North Terrace, Adelaide, SA, 5000

My second stop for the day, after a glorious breakfast at The Pantry on Egmont, was The Espresso Room – a place I became aware of after it (they) friended me on Facebook earlier this year.  Situated on Adelaide’s North Terrace, adjacent the Adelaide West Campus of Uni SA (my alma mater) and across the road from the future Royal Adelaide Hospital Precinct, this place has potential written all over it.

Making good use of the more than 100 year old terrace house, The Espresso Room takes pride in its coffee – sourcing its beans from the Coffee Barun out at Sefton Park, and has a quality barista (whose name I have forgotten – but was known by Junko the award winning barista at the other place I ventured too for coffee – see above) who knew his art and took pride in his work.

Plenty of seating is available both inside – taking up many of the original rooms – and outside, both in the front behind glass as per the picture, and out the back in a beer (perhaps that should be coffee) garden atmosphere which leads directly into the Uni campus behind.  But now to the all important review:

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