I recently spent a week in Perth, supporting a new Michel’s store opening at Morley Galleria. After a busy work schedule, it was nice to get some time to myself. Having heard so much about the coffee in Perth, I made the most of the 5 hours I had on my last day before my flight back to Melbourne.
Andrew Tang (Spring Café in Subiaco) gave me a hit list, some I knew and some I didn’t. First stop was Tiger Tiger for breakfast.
It’s in a lane off Murray St near King St. The eclectic décor reminds me a little of the original Black Cat Café in Brunswick St Melbourne. The staff are very casual and friendly – no pretentions here. I ordered the field mushrooms with Brebirousse cheese served with chiabatta. Mmmmm funky cheese – Love it! As for the coffee, they use Fiori Coffee through a BNZ (don’t see many of these around) and a Wega. I played it safe and ordered a latte and it was pleasant enough. As I polished off my mushrooms & cheese, some guys sat down at the communal table with me and asked about my breakfast. They had all wanted the mushrooms, Brebirousse cheese and chiabatta, but I was lucky and got the last one. The aroma must have been a real tease.
Andrew turned up and introduced me to Michael of Grendel blog fame. We talked coffee for awhile and then Michael told us about the Give a Laptop, Get a Laptop program – check it out. I’ll be posting about 2 different Give One, Get One programs soon.
Andrew and I then went to Velvet to meet up with Ben Bicknell. If you don’t know Velvet, it’s on King St just up from St Georges Tce. It has great décor and a justifiably large following.
We discussed Barista Competition – particularly the weighting towards sensory and what the judges are looking for with regard to flavour descriptors. Our coffees finally arrived (W.A. stands for Wait Awhile as well as Western Australia ;-)), but to be fair, they were busy, and I’d much rather receive a great coffee than a poor one. Besides, after Copenhagen, everything seems speedy. The espresso was great – a syrupy savoury offering courtesy of Five Senses and the obligatory Robur and Synesso combo, with the “Get out of jail free” Swift (as Andrew Tang put it) for when it gets really busy and hot for the Roburs.
Next we hit Emanuele’s Ristretto, home of Jesper who was 2nd at the 2009 Western Australian Barista Championships. Yet another Synesso and Robur set-up, and the digital photo frame on top of the Synesso cycled some great coffee themed photos. Emanuele offered us more espresso and we obliged. More double espresso, but surprisingly the first sip lacked body. I swirled the cup and found that all of the syrupy sweetness had sunk to the bottom. Mmmmm – great espresso! Emanuele offers free coffee appreciation sessions on Friday afternoons, providing great coffee education for his customers.
Ben shot off and Andrew and I headed off to Zekka. Zekka is at the rear of a men’s fashion store on King St, and opens onto a courtyard with an impressive mural. They use Campos coffee through a Robur and Linea combo. My latte was good, but Andrew’s espresso had done a “Circuit” before arriving at the table so it was cooler than desired.
Next was Epic. I finally made it to Corey’s place after all these years. I’ve known Corey through Coffeegeek forums since 2003, and although it’s been great to hear about his successes, it was much more satisfying seeing the fruits of his labour. It was their last day before Christmas, and all of the staff were in fancy dress. The workload was hectic, so we placed our orders and sat down to watch the show. Both 3 Group Synessos were working overtime, but the additional 2 group wasn’t being used to relieve the take away orders. The 3 phase Roburs are rotated every 10 minutes to keep them cool, and the piles of wasted coffee are used to fill sandbags for flooded cities (they are planning to get timed grinders soon to reduce the wastage). I was warned that Epic serve very short double ristrettos. Yes it was short (about 20mls), but it was certainly good. Very fresh, syrupy and savoury (again).
Then Andrew took me to Spring. It’s a very small café with a huge open window onto the street. It’s the perfect place to sit on a lazy afternoon and watch the world go by. They use 5 Senses through a Robur & Synesso combo (of course). The latte art is outstanding, and the espresso was well made.
As with most small cafes, Spring is challenged with keeping up with demand during busy periods. We discussed ways of maximising productivity in a tight space, something I see a lot of in my role at Michel’s.
I would have loved to have spent more time enjoying the great coffees at these cafes and had more of the food offerings. It may not be cheap in Perth, but most of the food and coffee is great.
I was delighted by my morning tour, and I’m grateful for Andrew taking time out to show me around.