Coffee Wars

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Tiffany’s on Tennyson

156 Tennyson Street, Elwood

Rating: 4.5/5 Beans

Not far from where I live, and yet I’d never placed foot in this fine establishment before, how is it that sometimes the best kept secrets are just under your doorstep? Goodness knows, but now, I’m onto it – you should be too. Tiffany’s on Tennyson offers great coffee and everything in between.

You may even go so far as to describe Tiffany’s akin to a gourmet delicatessen, plus art galleria, considering the wide breadth of rustic breads, homemade condiments and more importantly epicurean savoury and sweet options available (must try: the Snicker’s Bar or Rocky Road Cheesecake – J.P the barista’s mum’s own recipe); not to mention photographer Paul Wesley-Smith’s artwork on display, and available for purchase, in their adjacent timbered dining room. Tiffany’s on Tennyson is much more than what initially meets the eye.

Perched up at one of the sidewalk bench tables outside, my Dukes skinny cappuccino (regular $4) was made to heartfelt perfection. Full bodied, well balanced across the palate and extremely flavoursome; showcasing decadent chocolaty notes, a good head of creamy cocoa tainted foam and with the sour pop of cherry at the back of the palate; it’s no wonder these guys have developed a loyal local following. What’s more, all Dukes coffee is made with ‘100% Arabica coffee beans sourced ethically from single estates and small farmer communities. What’s there not to love?

 

Little Captain

353 Inkerman Street, St Kilda East

Rating: 4/5 Beans

You’d be forgiven for driving by this discreet haven on Inkerman Street and not even knowing it’s there, however this magical little den is truly worth the find. Located only a door or two up from the good ol’ Inkerman Hotel, and showcasing a cute and colourful carnival-like back courtyard; which opens out onto Hewison Reserve (with an awesome enclosed playground to entertain the kids), Little Captain favours the young, and the young at heart. Pet owners too, your doggies are welcome.

Excited by my new local discovery, I knew I was onto something special with this laidback European, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influenced café. Perhaps not the place to go if you’re looking for the hippest and most modern café on trend; Little Captain is better equated with homemade fare, laid back vibes and shabby-chic charm.

Trying the ‘choc mocha’ (regular $4), my beverage resembled more of a ‘couverture hot chocolate’ than a caffeinated brew, but with such a smooth, creamy and decadent indulgence at my lips, who was to complain? So yes, although the ‘double shot of espresso’ could have been more apparent in my cup, in deeper analysis, it was probably the sweet berry notes and hint of cocoa from their Allpress Supremo Blend that complimented the premium Belgium chocolate that they used, making this brew what it was. Showcasing a light acidity and full body; Little Captain is all flavour.

 

 

The Joinery Elwood

5 Ormond Road, Elwood

Rating: 3.5/5 Beans

What reminds me of a mix between the likes of an old rustic countryside dwelling and a mini version of a jazzed up warehouse, with red brick exposed walls and halogen light fixtures dangling from the high ceilings like artwork, the Joinery Elwood is your new local escape. Perfectly named, with its collective wooden features and fit out, acting as a double entendre to its clever Elwood junction positioning – ‘joining’ Glenhuntly Road and Ormond Road together; access through whichever entrance you please, your new Elwood sanctuary awaits.

Arriving early on a Monday morning, I grabbed myself a far window table, and despite the small line at the coffee machine, it wasn’t long before I had my Bonsoy latte (regular $3.80) in hand. Now I know why there was a queue; my Supreme Blend by Coffee Supreme, was indeed supreme. Although not as strong or as bold as I would have liked it, my coffee showcased pleasantly sweet notes of tangerine and orange, with a hint of cocoa, topped off with a creamy layer of foam, it was still very rewarding. Presented well, despite my latte being served in a cup; not a glass like I was expecting, this is a great all round coffee blend that would appeal to many. Light to medium in body, maintaining a crisp and clean acidity; this is an elegant brew with a delightful caramelised finish.

 

Robyn’s Nest

267 Barkly Street, St Kilda

Rating: 3.5/5 Beans

Tucked away amongst the housing estates of Barkly Street and about one hundred meters down from Acland Street; unless you’re a local, or have been scouring around for a park off the main shopping strip, you’d be lucky to know this place even existed. Lucky for you, I’m letting the reins loose on what is indeed a very cosy and quaint secret find. Peace of mind can be found here.

Stopping by for a long macchiato (regular $3.50) outside in the sun, taking a seat at one of the sidewalk lined bench tables, I felt like I’d just discovered my new hills retreat cafe. If you’ve been up the Dandenong Ranges, towards Olinda, you’ll know what I mean. Robyn’s Nest maintains that old English teahouse sort of feel, with an eclectic display of collectibles on show; and with pinstriped yellow wallpaper walls, also maintains a cool retro vibe. C’est très funky, as one might say in French.

Downing my morning wake-me-up espresso, while soaking in the atmosphere, my Veneziano Bond St blend was as refreshing as the scenery. Perhaps a little too light and thin in body than rightfully due; it was still a relatively bright and flavoursome cup of coffee with welcoming notes of cocoa, berry and lemon blossoming on my palate. Naturally showcasing a gentle acidity; the foamy dash of milk on top offering that slight touch of sweetness, along with the burnt caramel finish, did it for me.

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