Coffee Bean Review: Dandelion, and Driftwood

Last Saturday, given a spare couple of hours and a hankering for breakfast/brunch outside the house, my wife and I decided to head over to Dandelion and Driftwood to try out their food menu. On previous visits we’d stuck squarely to the coffee. That’s what Dandelion and Driftwood are building their reputation on (contrary to some reviews you may have read in the Courier Mail today – seriously, I know Alison Cotes, I spent a few days with her, spread over a few visits, in Townsville. She’s nice. But this review is a little ridiculous. Why would you not start off at a place that prides itself on tea and coffee by drinking the tea and coffee? And why go for the fancy and expensive stuff if you’re just going to bag it for being fancy and expensive).

Anyway. Here are some obligatory photos of the food – because this is ancillary at best to what we’re talking about here.

That’s my toasted man-wich – bacon, egg, cheese, man sauce and potato chips.

Robyn chose the toad-in-the-hole. A triumph of hyphens.

Both were pleasant. But really, like I said. The coffee is the star attraction.

The latte art on this coffee lasted all the way to the bottom of the cup:

This Kenyan was particularly good.

And Robyn tried the tea – which came served in this sensational tea set. Tea isn’t my cup of, well, tea. But it was pleasant enough to drink.

That’s a really long prelude to the actual point of this post (especially at 1,000 words per picture). We left the cafe with two little brown paper bags in hand (and one, empty bag in my pocket – I highly recommend hitting up the lolly cart while you’re at D&D).

The coffee bags, like everything else these guys do, came with a unique touch of class. Bags are sewn shut with an old school cotton spooled sewing machine. At least that’s how I’d describe it. This isn’t even their preferred method of selling beans, because storage is important they suggest what is essentially the coffee bean equivalent of a grab and go system – with specially designed coffee storage jars.

Here are the bags on my kitchen table and ready for testing. I’ve just finished off the Driftwood – having polished off the Dandelion in a couple of days. I’d say the Dandelion is definitely my favourite. It works heaps better in milk.

The Driftwood packs a punch – and when I gave a cup to my mum today she said “it is very rounded and reaches the back of the mouth nicely.” But the Dandelion. Oh. The Dandelion. It’s apparently the more feminine of the two – but wow, as an espresso it’s pleasant, but somehow, when you add milk, it’s magical.


I took this shot from down low because I stuffed up my attempt at latte art…

I whipped up a batch of syphon for each of them – and while I know it’s meant to be a tool for playing with single origins – I’d have to say the Dandelion was the standout syphon option too. The Driftwood was great as a slow poured espresso, and sadly, my last shot (just then) was a little bit of a failure – I think my machine, which had sat turned on all day, was a little too hot. It was tasty and full bodied, but it didn’t have the pizazz that its counterpart offers. So you’d have to choose between flair and substance.

The Dandelion, which was almost as good at home as it is in store. The way it works with milk is a little like alchemy. I can’t stop raving about the coffee from this place – and I’ll continue to send my friends there knowing they’ll be looked after despite what some so called “coffee snobs” might write in the newspaper.

How I make Iced Coffee

Thanks to the wonders of Instagram I have documented my approach to making what I think is pretty good iced coffee. Not really the sort you’ll get in a cafe (I don’t use ice cream or cream – though you could add those). I used the syphon today because I wanted it to be a little bit fancy, and it takes a bit of the bitter edge off.

So here you go. A photo essay of my Iced Coffee approach.

I’ve taken to weighing my coffee lately – just to be that little more precise. I’ve got three extra grams in here.

I had a little issue here because I spilled some water on the syphon gas burner. Don’t do that. I had to take it apart to dry it out so that the gas could flow freely.

Thanks to the Intelligentsia tutorial I posted the other day – I’ve started boiling the water for use in my syphon before I crank up the burner.

I pretty much followed that tutorial step by step (though I don’t think my filter fits in quite as snuggly as the one on the video).

At this point – when the coffee is made – I mixed in two soup spoons full of castor sugar for additional sweetness.

I put the ice in some glasses. I used these fancy wine glasses because they’re actually pretty massive.

I’ve frozen some shots of coffee to use coffee ice for my next batch, but in this one it was standard ice.

Finally, I filled the glasses with milk. Delicious.

If you don’t have a syphon you can use plunger, stovetop, or standard espresso as the base – I would add a little more sugar to stovetop or espresso – because I think Iced Coffee is meant to be sweet, and the thicker nature of these drinks means they pack a little more punch. I got some good results using the Aeropress the other day. And substituting brown sugar for castor sugar also produced some interesting results.

I was using Five Senses coffee beans. Which I am going to review more substantially tomorrow.

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