Tag 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)

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.

Reanne from SPICE MagazineTotally prescription glassesEspresso Blazer baseMacca drops the flameThis girl I keep running intoThe line upPost BlazeGazzaNice jugsCocktail contemplationA cautious sipperKaren Cheng !1/4 of an Espresso MartiniNat dishes the sorbetLimoncelloRows of shotsMacca - at your serviceTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso CocktailTom's Baby Espresso Cocktail

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

My Melbourne Birthday

Suckling Pig from Cutler & Co

So last year I passed a small milestone. I turned 30. Not one to generally pay attention to the whole passing of time thing, I figured I was mostly immune from any sort of anxiety or insecurity at having reached a new notch on the belt of life. I leave that kind of thing to women with ticking biological clocks and guys hoping to be millionaires by the time they’re 40 who’ve realised they have bugger all chance of that ever happening. So with neither a hormonal imbalance I’m aware of, nor a particular desire to achieve anything, I thought I was in the clear.

That was of course, until I awoke on the morning of my birthday, looked into the streaky mirror of my windowless room in Melbourne’s crappiest hotel and noticed a crease right between my eyes that I swear was not there the day before.

With the panic of my diminishing youthful beauty starting to kick in, I managed to remind myself that perhaps the lead up I’d had to that morning was not the most skin rejuvenating way to approach such a milestone. But then I figured if it was going to happen, it was going to happen in style. So after finishing the bag of salt and vinegar chips, that had seemed like such a good idea the night before, I dragged myself out of bed and lurched into my future…

As a way of making it possible for me to even contemplate writing this up, and to keep the casual reader entertained whilst reading what can only be described as one man’s quest to develop gout as quickly as possible, I’ll try and concisely recount the events of the week I spent in Melbourne for my birthday.

This is going to be a work in progress post, so I’ll go back and update details for each place I’ve mentioned when I get a chance, and when prompted by the hordes of Melbournites looking for details on each one :) For now i’ve just included the names of each restaurant / cafe I went to and the photos I took at the time.

So it goes a little something like this…

Fly in Monday 14th of September at some ridiculous hour. Head to Hotel Enterprize (yes, it’s spelled with a Z) on Spencer St, henceforth known as The Crappiest Hotel in Melbourne (TCHIM). Drop my bags into a windowless box of a room next to an air vent, and head out looking for coffee. Along with me were Ben and Jen, long time sufferers of my gourmet wankery and fellow birthday road trippers (BRT’s), as Jen’s birthday is around the same time.

So I had a relatively forgettable flat white at The Dancing Goat (looked nice, but pulled too long and had a funk to it), then met up with the Frenchies for extremely good value pizza at +39. I loved the menu and even the excessive number of business people didn’t dampen the bustling vibe. Everything looked and tasted great, particularly liked the calabrese and pumpkin varieties. Let just say $12 pizzas look a lot different where I come from.

+39

+39 calabrese+39 pumpkin pizza+39 pizza+39 pizzas+39 menu wall

Brother Baba Budan

Then it was over to Brother Baba Budan for coffee. If you haven’t heard of this place then I’m not sure where you’ve been. BBB was the second cafe opened by the godfather of the Melbourne speciality coffee scene, Mark Dundon. It’s tiny, ridiculously cramped, and consistently has a line out the door. I tried a Kenyan Wamugump through the Clover and recall it tasting delicate and fruity.

Kenyan Wamugump @ BBBUbiquitous chair shot @ Brother Baba BudanPastries @ BBBClover pour @ BBBClover spout @ BBBSteaming clover puck @ BBB

Caboose

A little more wandering around and with a lingering thirst, I stopped by Caboose on Swanston St for a glass of wine, although apparently I was in entirely the wrong place and should totally have gone to La Vita Buona (according to That Jess Ho), which is way better. Regardless the petit chablis and rose du provence went down nicely and imbued my adventuring spirit. The fit out is done like an old timey train carriage, which more or less works. Though sitting outside and swatting a billion little flies away from my wine glass meant most of it was lost on me.

wine at Caboose

The Grace Darling

And so to my first meetup with some of the Melbourne Food blogging Mafia (Ed, Jess, Claire). I’d done some pre-arranging and Jess decided that The Grace Darling in Collingwood might be a decent spot to catch up with a few people for a casual drink and something to eat. With the Frenchies and BRT’s in tow we navigated the trams and made it there early. The Grace Darling apparently used to be quite a dive until it was done up recently, and I quite liked it for the most part. My pork chop with apple and fennel salad was tasty and stealing Ed’s chips from his deconstructed parmiagana was entertaining. Like poking a bear with a stick. After a bottle or two of the Wolseley Pinot Noir and a whole bunch of lame food talk, we did what any self respecting food bloggers should, and went for more drinks.

Romain savoursEd, Matt, JessDeconstructed parmigianapork chop, apple / fennel / potato saladMarie-AgnesCandles holderFrite loverA man for all timesJeff HopeWolsely Pinot NoirClaire & IRepentant but unforgivenInside the Grace Darling

The Black Pearl

This would become a faithful friend during the short week I was in Melbourne, and the end point to a number of big nights. The bar tender Chris Hysted has a huge reputation in Melbourne, and the greater Fitzroy area as a cocktail master, as his recent awards would attest, though apparently noone elses agrees with me that he looks like Johnny Depp. Ed seems to favour a drink called the “fog cutter”, which to me tasted like pure alcohol poured into a tiki mug. Fortunately there were plenty of other things to my liking, and requests for virtually any drink were met with keen interest and a historical breakdown of all methodologies for making it.
The other great thing about the Black Pearl is that it’s open late virtually every night of the week. Meaning you get a bunch of hospitality crew hanging out there after work, and would explain why we ran into Teague Ezard (Not the last name I’ll drop) and some of his staff from Gingerboy there. Awesome place.

The Black Pearl - boozeageddonThe Fog CutterLighting @ The Black PearlThe barThe Black Pearlan exercise in inkinside the black pearlI love lamp...

HuTong Dumpling Bar

It’s the next day now. We’ve woken a tad later than expected and it’s close to midday, and I have dumplings on my mind. There are two schools of thought on the internet as to where to go for dumplings. One is cheap and cheerful Camy, the other is better quality HuTong Dumpling Bar. So HuTong gets the vote and off we go, this time with a couple of extra people in tow who’s taste in “ethnic” food could be described as rudimentary (but should actually be called nonexistent). Arriving outside we find the place is full, and it’ll be a little wait to get in. I peer eagerly inside to the small windowed kitchen with chefs rolling thin dumpling skins and deftly twisting the tops to well formed peaks.

The meal however, does not impress. I’m not sure if it’s that fact that our dining companions ordered sweet and sour pork right off the bat (seriously, why is that even on the menu??) or that they just didn’t like my face (it’s happened before), but the service was rude beyond recognition. Food got dumped unceremoniously on the table, with long gaps in between each, and no explanation of when the next was coming.

The dumplings themselves were good, the soup inside rich and warming, but the skin on the xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings) tore nearly every time i picked one up, regardless of how delicate I was. I’d probably go back again If i were there and reassess because I love dumplings. But a place that looks as fancy as HuTong, with suited waiters and fancy cutlery, should not be giving back yard dodgy dim sum house service.

Market LaReflectBig red doorJenHu Tong Dumpling BarHu Tong cutleryPan fried dumplings @ Hu TongXiao Long Bao @ Hu TiongBraised beef and dumpling claypot @ Hu TongClaypot / chilli / squid

Seven Seeds

Munitions cutley box @ Seven SeedsFlat white @ Seven SeedsA moment of solaceCupping lab @ Seven SeedsThe bar @ Seven seedsSeven Seeds table settingbike wall @ Seven SeedsSeven Seeds : Speciality Coffee

Attica

Bride to beAttica : chutney / olives / almonds / butter / saltAttica : savoury madeleine amuse bouchAttlca : Craggy range chardonnayAttica : NegroniAttica : prawns, pork floss, dill pickle, coconut milk, flowersAttica: first course responseAttica: asparagus, morels, house made goats curd, rosemary flowerswarpedLaguiole : worlds sexiest knives ?Attica: Slow roasted hapuka, spinach, crispy potatoswirlAttica: Veal, young leek with hazlenut & garlic, sour flowerradiatec'est moi part deuxAttica: cognac ice cream, candied mandarin, fresh mandarin, fresh mango, sesame pralineAttica: chefs table menuAttica: finbride warsBecause two is better than onec'est moi

Charcoal Lane

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Gertrude St Enoteca & Bahn Mi on Smith St

....Bahn Mi

Cutler & Co

.............Suckling Pig, Cutler&Co.....Hendricks Gin & Tonic from Cutler&Co...

Cumulus Inc

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St Ali Outpost

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Rockpool Bar & Grill

................Rockpool...........

St Ali

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Von Haus

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Gingerboy

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Seamstress & Siglo

Rob sparks upScenes from Siglo.........Birthday Negroni @ Seamstress

Mr Tulk & Dali Exhibition

NGVNGV ceilingRomainMA & DaliMr Tulk eggs and baconThe plan makerMr Tulk breakfast

High Vibes @ Northcote & Supper Inn

Supper InnExitNot without my stylusJenDisdainly tiredNorthcote remnantsThe kidsNorthcote Social ClubFrenchies like rockgig photographers bewareMarie Agnes

Movida

.lamb cutlets, chorizo, pestochickpeaspork loin wrapped in pork belly demi secwagyu bresola poached egg, truffle, potato foamwagyu bresola poached egg, truffle, potato foamsome kinda musselsspanish cidersmoked mackeral, some kinda sorbetscallops, potato foamcroquettesjamon iberico, bread sticksortiz anchovy, tomato basil sorbetbread

Bar Lourinha

Pedro Ximenez so thick it felt like motor oilCreme catalan with blood orange caramelRabbit and blood sausageBar LourinhaMy only dining companionVeal tongueKingfish PancettaHalf a very nice bottle of wine

Elixir Coffee Specialists

Elixir Coffee Specialists

Normally I’d take issue with a name like “Coffee Specialists”. It’s draws parallels with fast food chains calling themselves “Burger professionals” or “Sandwich artists”. Sure it’s a catchy title, but it in no way makes me think the person behind the counter with the pimples and the hair net knows anything about making quality food.

Of course the difference in this case (aside from a distinct lack of hair nets) is that crew at Elixir Coffee Specialists are in fact, coffee specialists. Ignoring for a moment the slight issue of another cafe recently opening with the name Elixir in it, and a need to adequately distinguish themselves, you don’t get much more of a coffee dream team than Justin Kenny and Jonny Nease.

Jonny Justin

If you’re a Perth coffee lover, you’ll have likely seen Justin’s face around town. He’s been owner and operator of many excellent establishments in their time, the likes of which include Grind in Trinity Arcade, Fix in West Perth, and most recently Velvet Espresso on King St. It was at Velvet that Jonny came on board, and now Elixir is the culmination of Justin’s long legacy in the Perth coffee scene.

A consummate professional who goes about his business without pomp or ceremony, Justin describes Elixir as the goal he’s been building to all along. A place where he has the space to do what he wants. To create a boutique cafe and a small batch roastery where he can finally do coffee his way.

Elixir is in the building formerly occupied by The Grocer (a fact they’re constantly reminded of by the regular flow of people coming in and asking where The Grocer is, expecting to buy saffron threads and truffle oil). The good thing about this though, is that not only do they pick up new business from every person who gets a whiff of the amazing smell of their coffee, but it also means that there’s plenty of storage room out the back for the new arrived roaster, a coffee lab, and hopefully soon a whole lot of interesting green beans.

With the roaster to be commissioned in the coming months it’s an exciting time for Justin, Jonny, Gemma, Ruth, and the rest of the Elixir team, who all genuinely seem to want to be there… which is a nice thing to experience. Jonny, Justin, and Gemma run the coffee, and Ruth and Jen are the girls who make the food sing. All the meals are done on site with ovens out the back to get some serious cooking going. The menu changes often and has a focus on simple cafe classics done well. My last visit included a steak sandwich with roast tomatoes and a garlic creme that really hit the spot.

Elixir coffee - espresso pour Latte art capp

Coffee is an increasingly difficult thing for me to comment on. Being involved in barista competitions and knowing more people in the industry, it would be unfair of me to start throwing out unfettered opinion on every cafe I go to. Knowing more behind the scenes, you soon start to realise that one flat white or espresso can not be assessed on it’s own, but rather appreciated knowing the various factors that have gone into it. Where the beans are from, how they’re roasted, how they’re stored, what equipment you’re using, how well it’s maintained, and how busy the cafe is at any given time of the day are all big deciders in the overall quality of the cup.

So I won’t be rating 7 out of 10’s or 4 stars or giving you a detailed break down of the flavour profile of the coffees I tried.
What I will say however, is that Elixir is the kind of place where continual improvement and the pursuit of great coffee is the underlying goal. So regardless of the make up of their blend, the single origin they happen to be using on the day, what new and zany tamping technique, or grams per shot ratio they’re using, it will be part of an evolving process that I’ll happily take part in.

Espresso pour @ ElixirCroatian CupsReflecto manFlowery lightingThe shotSexy cupperyShots for a latteJustin pours at ElixirLatte pour throughPress button to roastThe love brushJonnyPain endsJustin manages a smileElixir Coffee Specialists

Elixir Coffee Specialists
Chelsea Village, 145 Stirling Highway
Nedlands

Phone: 9389 9333
Open Monday – Saturday: 7.00am – 4.00pm
Closed Sunday

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2010 W.A Barista Competition – Day 1

2010 WA Barista Competition

It’s been a huge day today as day one of the Detpak W.A Barista Championships got underway. This year W.A has 16 awesome baristas vying for the title of the states best, and a chance to be flown to the Gold Coast to represent W.A in the national finals early next year.

The first day of competition today at the Mount Hawthorn Community Hall had 11 competitors all strutting their stuff. Everyone competing admirably and doing their bit to further the appreciation of good coffee in W.A.

Tomorrow sees a further 5 competitors round out the barista competition, and the the states best latte artists will take to the stage
to see who can take away the Pura Milk Latte Art championship.

Finally, the who’s who of Perth’s coffee palates will compete in the Fairtrade Cup Tasting competition, a fast paced race to pick the odd coffee out of 8 sets of 3 cups. The winner is whoever gets the most right in the fastest time.

The event is open to the public and everyone who is into coffee at all is encouraged to come down. We have a coffee cart selling $2 coffees made by our competitors, and coffee roasting demonstrations run by local home roaster Trevor Green.

Tomorrow’s action will get underway at 9am and run through til the afternoon, so there’s plenty of time to come along and see what the best baristas in the state have to offer.

Here’s a few shots from todays action taken by Jon Wilson:

2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition

Directions to Mount Hawthorn Community Hall