6 Strathalbyn Road, Aldgate, SA, 5154
Not wanting to pass up a lovely day out and about, I also ventured down the road to grab another coffee – from what, at first glance on our drive up to Aldgate – was the busiest of the local cafes. When I got there, I was the only other patron bar one – but had to wait 10 minutes for service. If I had been smart I would have paid more attention before walking in, as despite its name being the “Aldgate Cafe” it is more a Pizzeria who has a coffee machine, than a café that also serves pizza.
The walls are lined with an eclectic mix of local art – there are plenty of tables and chairs, and I believe there is also an alfresco bit out the back. But I came for the coffee, and so to the review.
Cost – $3.50 for a regular size latte.
Coffee Supplier – Lavazza
Fair Trade – Nope
Venue Suitable for:
- Quiet Chat, Deep and Meaningful, and/or Study and Reflection – No, not really.
Shop 4-6, 220 Mt Barker Road, Aldgate, SA, 5154
I’ve always had a soft spot for Aldgate – seemingly the overlooked, and perhaps introverted fraternal twin of the more popular Stirling – yet I find the quaint, cute leafy green Aldgate so much more pleasant a place to spend time. For one thing, there are less shops and they are all in one location – built around the concept of a village green – this means you can slowly meander from café to gift shop to chicken shop to to pharmacy to café while not actually travelling that far, nor loosing the glorious vista of so many english trees in their prime.
I happened upon the Aldgate Providore & Café almost by mistake. Having not had the chance to get out and about in the coffee world for almost a month, my taste buds were itching, so I proposed to my wife and family an outing, which would include organic farmers markets, and playgrounds just as long as I got to sit in a cafe for half and hour, drink coffee and read. Happily they agreed, so off we went to pretty much the only town within an hour of where I live that I hadn’t down a coffee crawl through – Aldgate. A quick Google/Urbanspoon/Beanhunter/BestAussieCoffee/CremaBestCafes/DecafSucks search indicated that (a) not many people had ever gone to Aldgate in search of just coffee, and (b) those that had, had only gone to one of two places – and this one was the most popular.
It is a gorgeous setting – the photo taken towards the backdoor of the Providore which faces the carpark – fronting the main road is the food side of the business, specialising in much locally grown and processed produce, and in the back in the café, which is licenced with full menu. Plenty of seating both inside, outside and upstairs – this is a great place to stop if you find yourself in the hills and in need of a coffee. You can tell them that I sent you – but that will just be met with a blank stare of incomprehension – because they have no idea of who I am 😉
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30 High Street, Strathalbyn, SA, 5255
Strathalbyn is one of those idyllic little Adelaide Hills/Fleurieu Peninsula towns that residents of the flats (aka Adelaide) flock to on weekends, and eastern state tourists come to visit to see what air looks like when it does not contain so much smog. Or at least, they come to the High Street of Strathalbyn, because that is where the antique shops and the quaint cafés are located – you head too far east and you get to the zinc mine.
Located on the Adelaide side of the High Street is the Appleseed Café – which I discovered was even there, after my first subscription edition of Beanhunter magazine arrived yesterday and it said this place was a place who stocked the magazine (after five newsagents looking at me dumbfounded when I asked about it – “what scene Magazine?”) – looks more like it should be in Hyde Park or North Adelaide then in Strath. Looking classy, yet comfortable both inside and out, the Appleseed Café is known locally for its concern for those who have food issues – allergies, intolerances and other conditions which are more frequent that other cafes realise – and so has a dedicated and supportive clientele, as indicated on their facebook page.
Latte Quality – Good – as with many take away coffees the barista over compensated with the temperature, which (a) made the cup difficult to hold in one hand, with my toddler holding my other hand, and (b) even after allowing driving time to the playground, it still burnt my tongue. And I ordered a large, but rather than keeping pour to milk ratio equal, this was just a very milky latte.
Cost – $5.20 for a large take away which is expensive.
Coffee Supplier – Veneziano Caffe
Fair Trade – Probably not – at least there was no mention in store, but Veneziano do do a “Pure™ ‘Fairtrade Organic”
Special Notes – Plenty of food options for those needing gluten free, vegan, organic etc. Kid friendly with a children’s menu.
Venue Suitable for:
- Quiet Chat, Deep and Meaningful, and/or Study and Reflection – Absolutely – I was there at around 1pm and while there were customers in the various rooms, it was by no means packed. There was also some outside seating available. There is also a beautiful Uniting Church only a short stroll away should you need some spiritual guidance.
Shop S6 Mt Barker Central, McLaren Street, MOUNT BARKER, SA, 5251
While the serious lack of forward planning, and infrastructure development by the local council and state government has done untold damage to Mount Barker as a town (almost a city) – with the narrow streets with more cars then they ever thought they could carry, which make Springvale Road in Melbourne look like an 8 laned super highway, and the empty shops with their newspaper or black plastic window dressings which make it look like an apocalyptic modern wasteland – the extra people have developed within it a strong coffee culture. As you will have noticed, that over the last few weeks almost all the reviews have been on places in and around the Mount – this being largely due to my wife having to regularly visit, and then take up temporary residence in the maternity wing of the local hospital with welcoming our second son to the world – and it continues today.
bb’s café is located in the humorously titled ‘Mount Barker Central’ – in the old section, near the Telstra shop and soon to be near some brand new empty shop fronts which are almost finished in what used to the carpark. I had never seen this place before, nor had I ever heard of the bb’s café franchise (an Australian Company – same one that owns Brumby’s, Donut King, Michel’s Patisserie). The place was clean and tidy, although quite empty – but the staff were very friendly, and my nearly three year old son was taken by the aquarium in the corner. They also do a ‘shout a friend’ deal, which is basically a buy one get one free thing – on the day I was there it was muffins.
Latte Quality – Passable – the foam was very chunky (large bubbles) and it tasted slightly burnt – but it was just drinkable.
Cost – $4.10 for a regular drink in, which is pretty expensive.
Coffee Supplier – bb’s coffee – they do their own.
Fair Trade – No indication in store – No indication on their website.
Special Notes – I had a blueberry muffin (and got another one free) and it was very nice. Their promotional material indicates that everything is baked fresh on the premises daily.
Venue Suitable for:
- Quiet Chat, Deep and Meaningful, and/or Study and Reflection – Absolutely – other than us, there was only one other customer in the store – and there was plenty of seating – chairs and couches – and we were there close to 4pm, so this was the after school rush time….
Shop 10/69 Gawler Street, Mount Barker, SA, 5251
This great little asian inspired “tea cafe corner” is just what Mount Barker needed – being a town with a surplus of pub/bistro/pizza/modern Australia type food but little else. With great service from Becky and Sharon, the Bamboo Talk Cafe is popular at lunch time with its Vegetarian/Vegan sushi, yum cha and other asian influenced delights – I can recommend the mix sushi platter and the chilli squid with stir fry veg. They also have a coffee machine for afters…
Latte Quality – Good – the foam was full of bubbles, which indicated the milk wasn’t properly stretched – but the flavour was ok.
Cost – $3.20 – which is below average for the standard sized latte glass.
Coffee Supplier – Griffiths Coffee
Fair Trade – No.
Special Notes – Open until 3pm – so make sure you are their prompt for lunch, or early for their all day breakfast….
Venue Suitable for:
- Quiet Chat, Deep and Meaningful, Study – Yes – for all of these. There is limited seating indoor, but plenty of seating under the verandah.
Adelaide Hills Homemaker Centre, Shop K 6 Dutton Rd. Mt Barker SA 5251
This is a review which I could almost call ‘Sign’ – as in artist formerly known as Prince – because Laratinga, is the café formerly known as The Bean Bar (which after a cursory Internet search seems to have gone out of business everywhere….did anyone notice? does anyone know why?). Taking over the old Bean Bar premises – lock, stock and no smoking barrels – Laratinga just put their information over the old and kept on trading – so, like a couple of other cafes in the town – the Laratinga is bright orange (see also Our Little Café and Corso Café) but has the advantage of also being an internode internet hotspot – it has plenty of seating, and is blessed with like a 1000 car parks – just avoid trying to get in or out during the 3:15-3:45pm period – because the car park resembles the one at ‘The Dome’ (the venue formerly known as the Clipsal Powerhouse, and after that The Distinctive Home Dome….The Dome is the Home of the Brett Maher Court…if that helps) after the Sixers have lost another game.
Latte Quality – Excellent – great flavour, good foam percentage – pretty much as I remember the best of The Bean Bar.
Cost – average – a regular Café Latte will set you back $3.50
Coffee Supplier – Aroma Fresh Coffee – just like the old Bean Bar
Fair Trade – no mention in store or on their website, so it would be safe to assume – No.
Venue Suitable for: Quiet Chat, Deep and Meaningful, Study and Reflection – It used to be ok for all of these purposes, but if yesterdays traffic was anything to go on – perhaps not – I was in there in the late afternoon and the place was full (only one spare table) and while I was there enjoying my yummy Raspberry Muffin, there was a steady stream of customers coming and going. Ye Olde Bean Bar used to do tables out the back near the bike path/creek – so if these return for warmer weather, that would make it more usable for pastoral matters.
5 Druids Avenue, Stirling, SA, 5251
This is a follow up review to one of the very first I completed back in June 2009, as I had the opportunity and the desire to visit The Organic Market and Cafe on August 5th, because they were one of only four cafes in South Australia to signup to the CaféSmart promotion.
The Organic Market and Café is still a very comfortable, very trendy little Cafe – attached to an Organic Market nestled in a side street, off the main tree lined street of the picturesque and pricey, Stirling. Parking is still a problem, but that is typical of Stirling at most times of the year. A good thing to do is park up near the steam engine playground, and enjoy the short walk to the Café.
As you do the rounds of the food/coffee review websites, this place seems to get many comments which align with my experience – in that, customer service is not a priority. After ordering my coffee, I was ignored – do I stand and wait? do I sit down and wait ? – they didn’t ask for a name, so I assumed to should hang around close to the front – because we are all crammed in tight, I was required to move to my left by an assertively sighing waitress whose flow towards the counter was interrupted by annoying customers just wanting to be served. Seriously folks – if you want to see how good customer service is done – visit The Two Bees in Victor Harbor, The Coffee Barun in Sefton Park, or La Terre in Willunga….
Latte Quality – Good – good temperature, good flavour and $1 of my cost went to a good cause.
Cost – $3.50 for a regular (pretty small) take away coffee – in one of the BIO Cups (fully compostable)
Coffee Supplier – Even after two years they still do not promote whose coffee they sell – so, while waiting I ask the barista who then dived under the table and came up with a bag of Vittoria Nero Blend – which is their standard coffee (not organic in any way, shape or form – it is standard ‘food service blend’ by Vittoria – however, they also have an organic bean which you must ask for – however this doesn’t happen very often I was told, and she didn’t know where the beans came from – although the bag and the hand writing on it look suspiciously like it came from ‘The Coffee Barun….
Fair Trade – No – Vittoria do not do a Fairtrade blend, although you can purchase a Rainforest Alliance Ground Coffee from supermarkets (although why, know one knows….)
Special Notes – Their standard coffee is NOT organic – which seems to fly in the face of their name, and beliefs from their website – when you order a coffee, make sure you explicitly ask for their organic blend coffee – however, it may cost you a few cents more (not sure, but I do wonder….)
Venue Suitable for:
- Quiet Chat – No – a very busy place, with people coming and going regularly.
- Deep and Meaningful – probably a good place for it – enough background noise to allow for safety in conversation topic, but quiet enough so you don’t have to keep repeating yourself.
- Study and Reflection – being a really busy place, and with there sometimes being a wait on tables – it is probably not the best place for that.