Category Archives: Coffee

Monogram Caffe

I first met Thomas Greene at Boucla in Subiaco. As a newish blogger back then I was rather delighted when he told me he’d been reading my blog and really enjoyed my photos. “I like this man!” Was my immediate and rather cheap response to essentially any form of flattery (seriously, it’s not hard at all people). After chatting to Tom for a while I realised we shared a few things in common. He was a photographer too, and a very fine one at that, having taken trips abroad to places like Egypt to embed himself in life there and explore photojournalism. He also made a damn fine coffee.

After that I saw him at many of the usual suspects, Cantina in Mt Lawley, Mini Espresso in the CBD. It was always comforting seeing Tom behind the coffee machine because I knew whatever the reputation of coffee from that venue, his would be good.

He’s not a geek mind you (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but the kind of thoughtful person who puts a lot more effort into his craft than he lets on. I have no doubt his primary school report cards would have been full of such words as diligent, conscientious, and considerate.

Such is the approach he’s taken to his latest venture at Monogram Caffe @ The Grove Library in Peppermint Grove. It’s essentially a pop up coffee stand given a permanent place to live inside the library that Tom has given his own unique style.
An elegant wooden bench which conjures both art deco and Nordic stylings, Tom wheels it out at the start of the day, and back in at the end. It’s a one man show as he goes about his craft making fine coffees for extremely lucky library visitors and those in the know.

The coffee is a special blend of Fiori beans, worked out in collaboration with the fine gentlemen at Lowdown Espresso, and with Tom’s delicate touch it really sings. He has fresh cakes and home made sweet things to go along with the coffee and I can think of few things more pleasant than sitting down with a good book, a lemon tart, and a perfectly made flat white, and then returning the book afterwards because I’m too cheap to buy it…

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Monogram Caffe
Inside The Grove Library
1 Leake St, Peppermint Grove, at the Cnr of Stirling Hwy.
Sundays to Fridays

Bench Espresso

Rejoice East side CBD workers, good coffee has arrived to your humble lunch bar existences. No longer do you need to “make your own” or frequent an awful chain for your morning coffee fix. Bench Espresso is the newest addition to the cafe scene on the East side of Hay St, and they’re doing a fantastic job.

Vanessa Moore is the owner and chief evangelist at Bench, who takes it name from the law courts across the road, and a desire to be the benchmark for coffee in Perth. Vanessa comes from excellent coffee pedigree, she started out her coffee journey at the infamous Core Espresso in the city (arguably the starting point for specialty coffee in Perth), and then moved to Epic Espresso in West Perth, where she helped manage the store and ran the barista school. After Epic changed hands Vanessa headed off to Melbourne and did stints at Market Lane and Three Bags Full before coming back to Perth to start the task of opening a place of her very own.

The style of the cafe is very simple. Slotted into a narrow glass box at the front of an apartment block, with large glass walls and a high ceiling. The layout is minimal with a kind of modern Nordic feel. It’s surprisingly warm for a place where the predominant colour comes from the brush stone benches, but that’s because light just pours into the cafe from all around.

The coffee is great as you would expect from someone of Vanessa’s skill and determination. She’s running 3 different Mazzer Robur grinders each with different blends in them, one for milk, one for espresso, and a single origin. I’m assuming the blends will change regularly as they refine the flavours, and as new and interesting beans arrive at 5 Senses (the roaster). The shots are pulled as short doubles for the most part, rich in flavour and texture. Coffee is such a variable and subjective thing that I’m loath to give tasting notes for specific drinks, but suffice to say the blends are designed to give the customer the best possible experience in each cup. I’d strongly suggest trying the milk blend with a cappucino and the espresso blend as an espresso or long black. There is quite a bit of difference to the body and acidity of different coffees that will lend themselves to certain drinks better than others.

They also have filter coffee on offer via the Clever Coffee Dripper, basically a device with a paper filter inside it that your use for pour over coffee, a method of preparation that retains much more origin characteristics of the beans than espresso does.

One of the other things that has survived the passage of time from previous incarnations in other cafes is the hot chocolate made using Belgian couverture chocolate incorporated in molten form from a bain marie. It’s a decadent way for chocoholics to get their fix.

Whilst it’s still early days for Bench, they are already having a great impact in the area, and along with the guys at Cafe 54, they’re finally giving workers on the east some good alternatives for CDB coffee without compromises. I’m looking forward to seeing where Vanessa’s coffee journey goes from here.

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Bench Espresso
471 hay street, Perth
08 9221 1131
Mon – Fri (7am – 3pm)

Lowdown Espresso

Lowdown Espresso Checked

I’ve been meaning to write a post about Lowdown Espresso for a long time now. They’ve recently captured my “Must visit cafe’s when in the CBD” vote, and I think the coffee they are making is some of the best in the city.

Lowdown is run by Mark and Adam Lowes, and two nicer gents you couldn’t meet, who take the flannel clad / bearded look and make it their own.

They took over the diminutive cafe in Cloisters Arcade from the previous owners and set about making it their own. Their Dad got involved used his carpentry skills to put the benches together and help get the place fitted out, and it is perfect in it’s simplicity. The guys use a customised Fiori blend for their espresso, and often have a single original filter available to try out as well. They’ve graduated from a 2 group Wega to a 3 group La Marzocco in the relatively short time they’ve been open and are pumping out more coffee’s than ever before.

I like it because they’re both down to earth guys who are obviously loving what they do and really seem to enjoy giving you a great coffee. The little chocolate button handed out with each coffee may go some way to explaining the chocolate notes I find in their espresso, but other than that it’s a rich and intense brew with a lot of body that a discerning coffee lover will appreciate.

The cafe is really too small to do any serious cooking, but there’s a few tasty sandwiches on offer every day, and on a recent visit some extremely commendable macarons.

If you love your coffee without pretense or attitude then pay these guys a visit. Be warned, it does get very popular during the morning “need caffeine before I can face the office” rush hour, but it’s worth the wait.

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Lowdown Espresso
Inside Cloisters Arcade
16a/865 Hay St
Perth WA 6000
(08) 9226 3041

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Low Down Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

WABC 2011

Tamper
Photo by Jon Wilson

Once again we find ourselves on the precipice of a barista competition when it feels like no time at all has gone by since the last one.
But yes folks, it is happening again. The finest of Perth’s coffee scene will put their espresso, latte art, and cup tasting skills to the test in another huge weekend of specialty coffee action.

We’ll be running the WA heats of the AASCA Barista, Latte Art, and Cup Tasting Championships.

When: November 6th and 7th
Where: Perth Town Hall, Cnr Hay St & Barrack St, Perth
Why: To show once and for all who has what it takes to be crowned the best barista in WA.

If you’d like to compete then head across to the website now:

Enter Barista Championships

Enter Latte Art

Enter Cup Tasting

Silvana Coffee Cocktails @ 399

1/4 of an Espresso Martini Macca drops the flame

Espresso and Alcohol. Such a tantalising but deadly combination of stimulant and depressant pitted together in a vicious battle for who can do more damage to your sleep patterns. It’s not too often that I feel the limits of either my espresso or alcohol consumption tested (which is not to say I abuse either). But this little event held at 399 bar, an initiative of Silvana coffee, left my head in a state more akin to a Sunday morning after the worlds biggest bender.

Which is not to say that any of it wasn’t delicious, because it definitely was. Macca and Gary from 399 were mixing up espresso martinis, blazers made with 15 year old Glenfiddich whisky and inflused with coffee and cinnamon, and then to finish off, a coconut sorbet with limoncello over the top. Tom Wearne of European Foods Coffee Education Centre was also there behind the espresso machine, pumping out shots of Silvana and reprising his signature drink from the W.A Barista Competition last year, this time with the wonderful addition of chambord, which seemed to make the rest of the drink come alive that little bit more.

There was a who’s that of local food and coffee types around, and along with Mr Cafe Grendel, A slightly tipsy but holding it together Karen Cheng, and myself, a nice contingent of bloggers too.

We were excellently hosted by John Ferrari and Catherine Natale of European Foods who were showing off the new Silvana Exclusive blend of coffee they’ve put together, and food and cocktails flowed freely from the ever cool kids of 399.

A little tip for the casual punter though. If you’re going drink a near endless stream of coffee cocktails, each one with at least a shot of espresso in them. Be prepared to have a fitful sleep and some of the craziest dreams you’ve ever imagined, or perhaps just plan not to sleep for a week and have a couple more.

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Barista Jam II

Perth Macaron Challenge I

Eep. This is tomorrow night. I’ve been tardy I know, but If you can make it along please do. The words come from Jen @ 5 Senses

What comes after # 1? Another super cheap $15 barista competition fundraiser.

Time to re-group with Barista Jam #2 and get down to business. Consider our first get together hosted by the lovely people at Elixir Coffee Specialists a who’s who / meet and greet. Now that we are all friendlies, it’s time to talk a little bit more seriously about this year’s upcoming barista competition.

We are looking for all potential competitors, hopeful judges, volunteers and sponsors to make themselves known and come join us for another beer and pizza session at Epic Espresso in West Perth this Friday the 23rd from 5pm onwards. We obviously don’t want to waste all the prize money on advertising, so it’s up to you to get the word out there to anyone you think might be interested.

We are planning some comp focused training during the evening. We’ll aim to spend time each Barista Jam breaking down a section of the scoresheet in order to offer insight and tips on getting the best results beginning with the espresso section. On the table at 5:30pm sharp (before Pizza) will be the top ten Honduras COE samples for cupping. It will be an opportunity to discuss flavours, characteristics and pesky” Nuancessssss” with the comp blend descriptor training in mind.

Lastly, we are keen to reward some budding artists! 5 bucks in the hopper, 1 cup, judged by comp rules, winner takes home a fancy new Reg Barber.

If you’re interested in providing your venue for #3 we are keen to hear from you.

See you this Friday,

Jen

Facebook event link here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=101782406543046

Barista Jam May

Zekka Espresso

This is a public service announcement to the coffee people of WA. Nevermind the EAST COAST … Perth is where it’s at!

Our professional coffee community has a lot to offer and if you’re
interested in hanging with some like minded people, make your way to
Elixir Coffee Specialists (145 Stirling Hwy, Nedlands), Saturday May 22nd (That’s a week and a bit away)
from 6:30pm onwards for the best beer, pizza and coffee combo around!

A group of us, Tom Wearne (Euro Foods), Charles Stewart (Rocket Fuel), Jesper Bood (Ristretto Coffee), Jen Murray (Five Senses) and myself have recently started talking about this year’s WA barista comp. We’re hoping to get the ball rolling to make this the best comp we’ve ever run !

In order to raise some much needed funds (the best cost’s money), get
everyone together and put WA firmly on the coffee map we are going to start having a regular shin dig at different venues each time. So this
is your chance to have your say, ask questions, shoot the shit or just
volunteer your space for the next barista jam.

Even if you’re not competing, it’s about bringing everyone together and
getting involved. If you know of any coffee professionals that you
think might be interested in attending please forward this on.

When: May 22nd, 6:30pm
Where: Elixir Coffee Specialists, 145 Stirling Hwy, Nedlands

$15 bucks gets you entry, some pizza, some drinks, and a healthy level of caffeination.

Come on down.


*** Update
Well it’s the Monday after the first barista jam, and I’d say it was a great success. Many thanks must go to Justin, Jonny, Ruth, and Gemma from Elixir for putting up with 50 odd random coffee nerds in their cafe, and to everyone who came along for making it a good night of social coffee interactivity.

The aim for these events is really just to get everyone in the coffee scene together and get them talking, as I think the more interaction we all have the better the scene will be. Every barista comp seems to take everyone by surprise by the time it happens, so the more time people have to prepare and talk about it, then the better and more smoothly it should run.

So thanks again to everyone who came along and keep an eye on the internets for news about the next one.
In the meantime, check out Chris’s blog for a bit of wrap up and some photos.