Coffee Wars

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By Ravenous Renee

 

Wall Two 80

280 Carlisle Street, Balaclava

Rating: 4.5/5 BeansLong-Mac-Wall-Two-80-2

Hit a wall because you’re in desperate need of your daily caffeine hit? Well, if it’s the colourful and artistically graffitied wall of Balaclava’s esteemed “Wall Café” (as the locals like to call it) then consider yourself in luck! Opportunistically situated mid-Carlisle Street, Wall Two 80 is conveniently located
opposite Balaclava station and the perfect pre or post work stopover when a decent coffee is on the cards. Wall Two 80 also goes nuts on the weekends due to its sunny central location, outside wall-lined seating area (perfect for people watching) and delicious eats; so try and get in early if you can.

Impressed on any given occasion, I was even more rapt when I discovered that Wall Two 80 is still open for coffee (until 6pm, 7 Days a week) when nearly everywhere else is closing shop. Ordering a long Macchiato ($3.80), I was first aesthetically pleased by the classy and stylish presentation of my Genovese ‘Super Brazil’ double shot espresso (a trickle of silky milk stained one side of my glass); and then secondly by the beautiful waft of the freshly ground beans that meandered up through my olfactory senses. Then came the hit of a thick, syrupy and full-bodied mouthful, delectably divine with decadent notes of rich dark chocolate and warm caramel, add a mild tangy bitterness – spot on.

 

Presse Café Wine Bar

97 Brighton Road, Elwood

Rating: 4/5 BeansPesse short black 2

Spotting this unassuming and homely café and wine bar (and á la carte restaurant and bottle-o) randomly when whizzing down Brighton Road in weekday morning rush hour, I was intrigued to stop by and have a look. I’d actually heard of this place before but never quite knew where it was, until now. A gorgeous little find, with wine and spirit bottles and rustic ornamental fixtures everywhere you look, plus two large colourful oil paintings that bring this place alive; I felt like I was stepping into one of those classic, old style, dimly lit European side street bars, where all the true locals hangout.

With a primary focus on stocking Australian wine but also holding onto some boutique imports and specialty beer, this is not the first place I would have thought of for a great coffee but I love when my expectations get turned on their head. Having ordered a short black ($3.50), I was pleasantly surprised. My espresso maintained a thick, silky golden film that glistened with the sun, and true to its beauty its flavour, strength and consistency were divine. Tasting like what reminded me of a rich, nutty and spiced Christmas pudding or fruitcake, and maintaining a light syrupy mouthful with a gentle candied-orange citrus acidity; Presse’s Chicchi Di Café ‘Bear blend’ is a commendable choice.

 

School of 7 Bells

33 Chapel Street, Windsor

Rating: 4/5 BeansSchool-of-7-Bells-sk-capp

Meandering by this trendy front of Windsor station hotspot, one calm weekday afternoon, I was first taken aback not only by the old-world charm and seductive Fitzroy ‘Night Cat’ décor of this place but the exceptionally friendly and upbeat greeting and service that I received from the barista the moment I walked in. Feeling very much welcomed from the onset, the contemporary hip hop tunes that played in the background added to my contented demeanour, alongside the delicious Penny Box Blend by Artful Dodger Coffee Trading Co that I had the pleasure to sip, savour and take in.

Impressed from initial proceedings, my skinny cappuccino ($3.80) was a rewarding find; although it could have been a fraction hotter on two attempts. Still, I could make out that this was a tasty brew that embraced Melbourne’s cooler autumn days and it showcased welcoming undertones of toasted hazelnuts and vanilla bean, with a dark chocolate finish. Warming and mellow with gentle acidity and the milk perfectly textured with a creamy head of foam, my coffee was a clean syrupy mouthful, not too heavy, not too light, and the perfect cup of gentle earthly goodness to ring all my bells.

 

Iddy Biddy

47 Blessington Street, St Kilda

Rating: 4/5 BeansIddy-biddy-latte-5

If it’s rustic St Kilda charm and laid back vibes that you’re after, then Iddy Biddy is your hood. Somewhat a local institution; this is a café, bar and eatery all in one and attracts local patrons and newcomers alike. Always a versatile mix of St Kilda youngins and oldies kickin’ back, Iddy Biddy feels like hanging out at your mates place, it’s casual and it’s relaxed. On the contrary, with its timbered fixtures, furnishings and decorative green shrubs one side, and comfy leather sofas and burgundy décor on the other, it reminds me of a cross between a nature-retreat and a retro-funk 80’s lounge.

Stopping by for a late arvo bevvy (the caffeinated kind) I was pleased with my All Press Supremo latte ($3.50) that came my way. Perched up by the window inside, my coffee warmed my senses as much as the gentle afternoon sun. Now although the pour and presentation needed a little refinement (fair call, the main barista had gone home for the day) overall the taste, body, strength and temperature of the coffee was still darn good. My palate was met with a medium-bodied creamy brew of clean and subtle flavours, with raspberry, a hint of cocoa and summer melon acidity gently shining through. Served a tad hotter than normal but just the way I like it, this was a delightful milk-based coffee that had just enough punch to get me chirpily through the afternoon.

 

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