Bean Counter 15 Railway Place Fairfield
Tucked away behind Fairfield station this place offers a bit of peace away from the main drag. Milk based coffee will set you back 3.60 which I found pretty hefty (don’t know if this is the norm elsewhere), but if your having it black it’s still the standard 3 dollar affair. Di Bella’s Premium blend is used, which I found pretty bland. The company describes the blend as ‘pleasant’ but I think “boring” is a much better way to describe it. Atmosphere was relaxed and there is a gallery upstairs that you can check out as well. Probably the best spot I’ve been to in Fairfield but nothing here to go out of your way to visit.
Stuzzi 319-325 high st northcote
Opened about 8 years ago, Stuzzi is probably one of the most recognizable cafe’s on that high st strip. With huge red awnings and a glassed off footpath dining area, it’s hard to miss if your walking by. Unlike the last couple of cafe’s I’ve spoken about, Stuzzi is open from 8am to about 1130-12pm every day of the week. This probably makes it one of the only places you can go for coffee after about 5-6pm. The coffee used here is Ducale’s Reale Blend, which is pretty smooth tasting with low acidity with mild citrus notes. Coffee here is usually well prepared and there is generally enough staff to make sure you are looked after. Stuzzi is a very big space, so it is able to accommodate to large groups if your keen for a coffee after a night out or with a big group of mates or colleagues. Not a personal favourite but definitely worth a look if you need a hit and your favourite hang is closed.
Planning on doing both Palomino and Mixed Business over the coming days. Just need to refresh my memory in regards to what coffee they use.
Spoke to owner Patrick Sloan about the BFC Synchro machine shown above, detailing the impressive specs of the machine. Designed by students from Monash University and made in Italy, according to Patrick the machine is capable of pulling 50 second double extractions without any blonding or burning (a pretty impressive feat). 20g baskets are used for every coffee and from personal experience I can vouch for the intense flavours this setup is producing. I made the mistake of not recording anything when we were speaking about the machine, but over the next few weeks I’m hoping to sit down with him and have a chat about the equipment as well as coffee in general.
His blog can be found here
The northern suburbs of our lovely city are known for the eclectic mix of people it attracts. It’s not unusual to see a scrangly looking, dreadlocked hippy sipping a latte merely meters from a group of elderly greek gentlemen enjoying their daily espresso. After living here for just under 2 years, I’ve sampled some of the best (and worst) coffees on offer in the Northcote/Thornbury area and I thought my huge amount of idle holiday time would be a good time to start writing about it. I work at a cafe on High st, and while I won’t name which one, I’ll include it in one of the writeups over the coming weeks.
Northern Soul 843 high st Thornbury
Expect a well prepared, moorish brew. Toby’s Estate Fair Trade Organic blend is used; a smooth-tasting, fruity affair. Atmosphere is relaxed and the staff are friendly. A personal favourite. For a full review click here
Foxy Brown 31 South Crescent Northcote
A relatively new cafe tucked away close to Dennis station. With their primary focus being quality coffee I had high expectations when I ventured there for the first time. The blend they use has been painstakingly created by owner Patrick Sloane in conjunction with Master Roaster Joshua Bailey and I must say the effort has definitely paid off. The individual components of the blend are also available (at different times I’m lead to believe) to be tried both in store and as beans to take home. From my experience these fell pretty flat in comparison to their blend, the single estate from New Guinea (Delorusa from memory~ will check when I go in next) I tasted was fairly salty and uncomplex. It was simply dwarfed by the awesomeness that is their in-house blend.
The passion for the product is pretty clear from the outset. The first two pages of the menu are dedicated to the coffee available in house and to take home (as whole beans); precluding any mention of food whatsoever!
My only qualm with the place was the service (or lack-thereof) in our initial first few trips. Several items of our order were either wrong (no I didn’t order a long black for the second time) or simply failed to appear. While I appreciate the laid back atttiude, if you can’t remember a tables order please write it down! They offer a fantastic product, and I’m confident once the teething problems are ironed out the service will match the self proclaimed “best brown in town”
Pictures and further writeups to come over the coming days
Last week renowned espresso machine builders La Marzocco held “Out of the Box,” a showcase for the company and the direction they are taking.
Struggling to find much information about what went down at the moment, but I’ll post when I learn a bit more.
Since I bought the home espresso machine buying new beans has always been an exciting adventure. My humble Gaggia Classic has been a great way to explore new tastes and varieties you would usually miss out on at a cafe. Most cafe’s stick to pretty safe espresso blends and so you miss out on a huge variety of single/micro estate and some of the more adventurous blends.
It’s great to engage with other coffee heads about what new beans they are enjoying and maybe even which ones to avoid. Most staff at the specialty stores will be just as passionate as you about the product so don’t be afraid to hit them up for a bit of advice or chat. A lot of the retailers will have an espresso machine (and maybe a syphon or filter setup if your lucky) so its entirely possible to try the beans you are interested in before you take them home.
For me it’s always the smell that lures me in once I get into one of those stores. Being a barista doesn’t lessen the attraction! It’s not uncommon for me to down 4 or 5 coffees in one sitting just enjoying the unique characteristics of each coffee. Today’s adventure to Jasper in Fitzroy was no different with Kenya Peaberry being the eventual winner.
A few things to look for are packaging, roast date and how they are stored or displayed.
Coffee oxidizes when exposed to the open air, so it should be kept out of direct sunlight in sealed containers. While open buckets of beans might be great for the general aesthetics and smell of the store, it really isn’t the ideal way to keep the coffee fresh!
Some of the pre-packaged coffee even have these little nifty valves (I presume this is so the coffee can “breathe” but my knowledge is pretty limited) but the key thing with these is just to make sure there isn’t any holes in the packaging, and if there is a roast date make sure they aren’t over 2 months old!
A home machine is probably the best (and cheapest) way to continue exploring new flavours and even learning more about the characteristics different growing areas produce. My strongest recomendation is to do some research (if you don’t already own one) and buy a machine that suits your needs for the home. A good quality machine will last a long time, and the investment will be rewarding for your taste buds and your back pocket.
Interesting article published in Time on Monday.
Weighing it up.. A majority of coffee growers still struggle to make a livable profit
“It’s not enough to live on,” says Luis Antonio, who has grown coffee near Quetzaltenango, in Guatemala’s western highlands, for three decades but gets deeper in debt each year. “What we earn isn’t enough to buy food for our children.”
It is important to realise the limitations of initiatives like Fair Trade.
Few discussions around the topic: