Brisbane Coffee Crawl: Reviewing crawl #1

On Saturday I drank 11 shots of espresso (with milk) and one amazing chemex. I was on a coffee crawl. Lets call it a thebeanstalker.com Coffee Crawl. Accompanying me on the trip were two of my fellow coffee lovers, and my wife (also a coffee lover).

We hit five cafes – starting with Campos in the valley (which I will review in coming days) for breakfast – and there were plenty of good options we didn’t get to. Enough for another coffee crawl.

I think five cafes is about my limit – especially if I’m drinking double shots. Which I like to. Fair is fair. And I want to be comparing the same product in different locations for my reviews.

The highlight of the day, for a couple of reasons, was our stop at Veneziano’s First Pour cafe on Montague St West End (which I’ll also review in coming days). Firstly – we walked through the door and as I was talking to the girl behind the counter I noticed a familiar name on the business cards sitting there. And sure enough, a second later, Jia Brooks, formerly of Coffee Dominion in Townsville, walked out into the shop. Jia ran the barista course I went through in Townsville – and he’s running similar courses at Veneziano. You should check them out. He toured the globe to learn about coffee.

Here’s Jia showing Robyn the ropes in Townsville.

The second reason Veneziano stood out was the chemex Jia recommended, and made for us. He was probably the warmest barista we met – though that’s not casting any aspersions on the others, the ones we talked to were great, the others were busy. And it helped that we knew him already. The chemex was just sensational. Jia promised strawberries in the cup – and the promise delivered, it was a little like drinking a strawberry tea with a soft coffee undertone. Just amazing. It was some sort of Ethiopian bean.

Here’s the chemex in the preparation process.

Just delicious.

We started at 9am and finished at around 2pm, the shakes wore off about three hours later.

All the cafes we visited offered something a little different in the cup – and something different in terms of ambience. I’d happily, and cheerfully, recommend each stop. Though for different reasons.

A list:

Campos – Strong, dark chocolatey coffee which packed an initial punch, a sweet middle, and a long tail. The aftertaste was pretty nice. Good balance. Amazing food, and a pretty cool atmosphere – I love the ceiling fans. More coming in a review.

Cup – Still one of my absolute favourite places – they are sans Slayer at the moment (and their replacement machine fried itself yesterday). The coffee on Saturday had a great balance, fruity and spicy. I got traces of cinnamon, and a bit of berry. So I’m going with “jam donut” as a label for the flavours involved. Sensational stuff. I would have had two if I could have. But I was being disciplined. This was stop number 2.

BlackStar – Dark chocolate flavours, packed a punch. Just what I’ve come to expect from BlackStar. I still never feel quite well dressed enough to sit around with the hipsters and hippies.

Veneziano – Wow. Just wow. The chemex was great, but we’re not judging these places by their obscure single origins, but rather, their run of the mill espresso drinks. In this case the coffee was velvety smooth, sweet, and nutty. Hazlenut to be exact. Like a Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Delicious.

Dandelion and Driftwood – you know what I think of these guys. Just sensational. They sweat the details. The delicious orange and poppyseed cake was almost worth the $6 it cost. The Nicaraguan Cup of Excellence they had in the grinder on the weekend was simply amazing. I can’t recommend these guys highly enough. If you haven’t been there yet – check it out.

Here’s a slideshow of my pictures from the day. I’m hoping to get a hold of some of my friend Steven’s because he’s a professional.

If you want to come next time drop me a line – or comment on this post. It’s a bit of a thrill to see so many good cafes around.

Brisbane Cafe Review: Bunker Coffee, Milton

Bunker Coffee. Brisbane’s smallest cafe? Maybe. Converting an abandoned bomb shelter/garage with street frontage into a little hole-in-the-wall cafe is a great use of space. And if you add vines that camouflage your shop front with real leaves – you’re just one step away from classy. The final piece of the puzzle is great coffee with friendly service. Bunker Coffee in Milton has it all.

Here’s our first round of orders – a picollo latte and a flat white.

They use Blackstar Coffee, and serve up a storm with real chocolate used to dust cappuccinos and hot chocolates – this place is worthy of a trip by its own right. The swiss chocolate comes in big blocks that they grate. The hot chocolates are well worthwhile. Fantastically rich and smooth.

The “Goblin” and “Milky Goblin” are in-house specialties. Basically a cross between a long black, a macchiato, a picollo and a flat white. Or something like that. Think a Macchiato with a little extra milk, or a picollo with less froth…

All coffees are pulled on doppio ristrettos so they pack a little extra punch and you get a pretty full bodied experience. I love Blackstar coffee. So I love Bunker Coffee. I also noticed a kilo bag of Cup Coffee on the shelf. These guys seem pretty well connected.

A nice shiny La Marzocco and beautiful double walled Bodum cups make drinking in a pleasure. A $24 six pack takeaway iced coffee/iced chocolate seems like a pretty good deal. And I love the liberal smattering of [square brackets] repeated from the logo on the menu board. The place feels cool, add the bicycles leaned against the viney wall and you’ve got a fun little stop right out of an Enid Blyton novel. Their webshop also sells Aeropress for $5 less than I’ve seen them elsewhere (a bargain at $49). You can also follow them on Twitter, and a few “coming soon” bits of their website look exciting.

If there’s a cyclone or an air raid threat I know where I’ll be heading to stay safe and enjoy good coffee.

Bean here (excuse the pun)? Rate it:

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Brisbane Cafe Review: BlackStar Coffee

Blackstar Coffee

BlackStar was one of those places that lived up to the hype. I’d been meaning to get there for quite a while, having spent my four year exile from Brisbane reading about BlackStar on Facebook as my friends discovered it, and then entered a substantial relationship whereby it was almost all they could talk about.

BlackStar is a grungy garagey warehousey set up in West End. Its courtyard/dining/drinking area feature what must surely be chairs from old churches. I have memories of uncomfortable Sunday School lessons on such chairs. They don’t give you table numbers at BlackStar when you order, but rather little toys that you place on your tables. That was cute. They’re trying to contribute something to the cultural scene in West End, and they’re pretty actively supportive of local music and international human rights. Both good causes, and its nice to drink coffee with a clear conscience. It attracts a hipster clientele, and I felt a little out of place wearing a threadless T-Shirt and jeans, as some sort of ode to my latent capitalism. But I got by. It helped that the coffee was sensational. Rich. Dark. And earthy. It was so full bodied that it was velvety. Subsequent visits have confirmed BlackStar’s place in the top echelons of Brisbane’s coffee scene. The really nice thing about the number of quality cafes around is that they’re all offering something different, not just in their aesthetic, but in the cup as well. And if you want a coffee that will linger in the back corners of your mouth for hours, then BlackStar is the go.

Like many of the cafes you’ll find reviewed here – they roast their own beans, and they also deliver – by pushbike – around inner city Brisbane. I picked up a bag of their single origin Colombian beans, also delicious.

Check them out online, or on Facebook.

Bean here (excuse the pun)? Rate it:

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