Brisbane Cafe Review: Grindhouse Specialty Coffee, Stones Corner

What’s in a name? A lot. At least when it comes to a cafe. While some of the serious barista blogs that I read are starting to question the “specialty coffee” label, it’s another beanstalker.com rule of thumb that if a cafe describes itself in these terms then it should be given a fair hearing.

Grindhouse has been open for almost a year. It will celebrate its first birthday at the start of March. And boy, are they an impressive toddler.

In that time they’ve made a pretty big change, based on an admirable philosophy – changing their name from Grindhouse Espresso, to the more particular, and admittedly loftier, Grindhouse Specialty Coffee.

The name change sets a high bar. And the verdict, in a nutshell, is that these guys clear it, like a world champion pole vaulter in the very early heats, with heaps of room to spare.

They offer a house blend, and two single origins – including, when we were in the Grindhouse, a Cup of Excellence El Salvadorian – which was excellent in the cup. And an amazing Bolivian. Bolivia is quickly shooting up the ranks as one of my favourite origins. They seem to offer a depth and complexity not present in the run of the mill South American and African stuff, which tend, in this author’s humble opinion, to generally offer one defining and distinguishing taste (so blueberry for Ethiopian Harrar, and caramely sweetness for most delicious Brazilians). Anyway, this is a digression – but not a harmful one.

Grindhouse is an alley cafe, tucked in the carpark of an alleyway off Logan Road in Stones Corner. It’s a small space. Lined with abandoned coffee bags. Featuring revolving art works in a gallery space. And serving up this sensational array of coffees via a beaut La Marzocco, and a range of brew bar options.

The coffee was great. And you’d expect it to be. These guys are artisans. They’re dedicated to their craft. There’s no reason to be bad if you’re packing the beans these guys are packing. I can’t speak to their transparency regarding who roasts what, in terms of in store displays. It wasn’t on the whiteboard. But the bags were plainly visible inside, I just didn’t pay much attention because it was hot, and what can I say, I’m still figuring out a review routine for when we’re accompanied by our baby daughter…

My Flat White, first up, was on the Bolivian. And wow. It was bitter up front, but within seconds had moved into my mouth like a bunch of indie types at an occupy protest. So balanced, and with a really sweet aftertaste. It had this fruity thing going on that was either winey, or sultanaey. Which the the online tasting notes say may have been “plum” – but these things are made up anyway. It was temperatured and textured to my satisfaction. And served quickly. Full marks for that stuff.

We took some friends with us for the ride. These guys aren’t huge coffee drinkers, but told me they enjoyed their coffees – and I have no reason to doubt that. My wife’s standard order Piccolo, and my second flat white, were on the El Salvadorian, and they were pretty tops.

I’d recommend this place to anybody who’ll listen. I’m a little spoilt for choice with Igloo up the hill, and these guys down it… but it’s nice to know good coffee is within reach.

You can follow Grindhouse on Twitter, and on Facebook (but if you’re watching Grindhouse team – you should claim a username for your page (facebook.com/username), and they have a blog/website which keeps pretty up to date…

If you can’t tell – I’m pretty excited about these guys being on the same side of town as us…

Sydney Cafe Review: Coffee Alchemy, Marickville

Coffee Alchemy is closed on Sundays. This is very important information. Important information that I forgot to look up before walking the 1.4km from where we were staying, desperately seeking caffeine, on Sunday morning. They also don’t do food. It’s a coffee bar. Attached to a roastery.

What they do do is mighty fine coffee. I counted 10 different single origin coffee varieties on offer, as espresso (with or without milk), cold drip (with or without sparkling mineral water), and pourover. And there were blends. None in the hopper today, but plenty available to take home.

A beautiful La Marzocco machine. Very shiny. Is the first thing that catches the eye on the way in the door. The fitout is elegant, and simple, and lets you know this is a place where the focus is on the coffee. And the focus pays off.

First up was the double shot flat white on the Brasil Canta Galo. Delicious up front, it was incredibly chocolaty and smooth with an odd aftertaste. One of the tasting notes at Bean Drinking yesterday suggested “leather” was a possible taste – and I’d say this was the closest thing to leather I’ve tasted short of chewing on a belt. It wasn’t unpleasant. That’s just the only description I can come up with. And it was only in the aftertaste, which pretty quickly disappeared.

My wife had a picolo on a Bolivia Caranavi Eleuteria Villca. In milk some of its acidity was lost and in its place was a smooth, thick, deliciously balanced drop with a hint of nuttiness. It’s at times like this that I start to question whether I should be tasting coffee in milk, because the milk masks some of the different flavours.

And I finished my trip off with a Tanzanian Blackburn Estate “Pick of the Harvest”, as a picolo – the same I enjoyed yesterday as a sparkling cold press at Bean Drinking. This bean packs a punch. It was earthy up front, with a touch of caramel, or maybe even burnt sugar, and then, as I sat savouring the aftertaste – a hint of strong red wine, or port, or something. It was fruity, but very fleeting.

These guys take their coffee seriously and it reaps benefits. I’d go there again in an instant.

 

You can follow Coffee Alchemy on Twitter.

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