Coffee Wars

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So the relentless quest to discover that quintessential cup of Espresso in the greater St Kilda area for our ‘would be’ coffee connoisseurs continues!

Our discerning coffee critic, Ravenous Renee, takes a fascinating journey of coffee appreciation — based on flavour, body, texture, strength and presentation, rated out of a perfect ’5 Beans’

 

 

Lady Grange

1 Fitzroy St, St Kilda

Ph: 9534 3056

As charming as it is sophisticated, this is not just a stunning function and dining venue with unparalleled views over the ever glistening Port Phillip Bay and surrounding St Kilda Gardens. This is an establishment that also does one amazingly good coffee. A rewarding opportunity lost if passed by, Lady Grange prides itself on providing an exceptional cup of the hot brew – equally as fabulous as its unsurpassed service and food.

Utilising only the finest of Speciality Grade Arabica beans from the notably reputable and sustainable supplier ‘Allpress Espresso’ (freshly roasted in Collingwood), you know you can’t go wrong. Maintaining a ‘crop to cup’ and ‘grind to order’ philosophy, and strongly encouraging their ‘perfect cup’ training (on their endorsed machines) for anyone using their beans; you are ensured an eco-friendly and naturally flavoursome and consistent caffeine hit every time.

Furthermore, as one of the very few coffee suppliers to use Air Roasting Technologies (A.R.T) rather than the typical drum roasting technique, you are guaranteed a more even roast (with a cleaner and sweeter finish), without doubt. Sampling their ‘Supremo’ AllPress Espresso blend Latte, the cleaner and more pure taste of the beans was irreplaceably evident, and showcasing sweetly divine, subtle notes of berries and cocoa, I was sold. Lightly acidic and well-rounded on the palate, this is a Latte that you are going to want to savour!

Latte Rating 4.5/5 Beans

 

Imbiss25

25 Blessington St, St Kilda

Ph: 9996 1560

With a name that’s hard to remember and a location slightly off the beaten track, this Blessington Street cafe is just that; a blessing in disguise. Only a short walk from Acland St (off Barkly), this newly established vibrant cafe is no longer ‘Lost for Words’ (the cafe’s predecessor – sorry for the pun). Owners Simon J Hawkins and Scott Rigg have this place exactly the way they want it.

Not wanting to blend into the competition, their fresh approach not only on the design of their cafe (think open-plan with apple green painted walls and colourful rustic outdoor seating) but towards the excellent coffee and service they deliver, is helping this cafe to attract a very loyal, local following. They should also be warmly commended for taking the time to get to know their customers, as they somehow seem to remember the name of every person that walks through their door.

Obtaining their coffee beans from ‘Clark St Roasters,’ which are known for their consistent small batch; with these seasonal roasters you know what you are getting is unique, mouth-watering and fresh. Opting for their single origin (which they rotate almost weekly), I am served up their much appraised ‘El Salvador’ short black. Maintaining a distinguished flavour of pipe tobacco that you’ll either love or detest, and although perhaps not my first pick of choice, the profile of this batch with secondary flavours of dark chocolate and berries made this a drink that was well worth the try.

Short Black Rating 4/5 Beans

 

Neighbours Café

42 Chapel St, St Kilda

Ph: 9077 8950

“Neighbours Café,” such a cool name that reminds me of the TV show which inconspicuously makes me feel at home. Resembling someone’s home with its brick foundations and pretty courtyard garden seating area, you almost feel like you’re at a friend’s place for a BBQ. Relishing in the gentle afternoon rays outside at a table on the grass and under a charming fig tree (with covered seating options also available), I ordered my first-time ‘Double Ristretto’ (otherwise known as a Doppio Ristretto in Italian), but as a latte.

Basically “between a double and a single shot, but not as bitter,” as explained to me by the cafe’s lovely Assistant Manager (so a 45 ml shot opposed to a 60 ml shot that you would usually get with a double espresso), a more pronounced flavour profile of their choice of speciality coffee ‘Roast Craft’ beans was the result. Quite the flavoursome ‘kick’ and locally sourced out of Geelong, the beans are always guaranteed to be fresh and the ‘Cadenza’ blend always works a treat. Light (acidity) and easy to drink, this coffee showcases flavours of hazelnut, nutmeg and malt with a dainty sweetness of (apparently) stewed plum. My cup was full-bodied, bold and robust, with a creamy coat of foam good enough to make milk moustaches any day!

Double Ristretto Rating 4.5/5 Beans

 

Tuck Shop Take Away

273 Hawthorn Rd, Caulfield North

Ph: 0431 406 580

Invitingly unique and unlike any café or take away establishment I’ve stepped into before, straightaway I was delightfully impressed. With signage that reads ‘Tuck Shop take away’ like a five year old would have written it, the name and style it’s presented in alludes to what you might have been able to purchase from your school canteen back in the day — and true to its name, that’s exactly what you get (and more). Intimate, retro and colour-splashed chic, this beauty not only serves up a hand-picked selected range of childhood goodies, but a great cup of the hot brew too.

Sourcing their beans locally, fresh and organic from the renowned Monk Bodhi Dharma in Balaclava, and only using their seasonal single origin for their milk-based coffees and blacks (of which they rotate), you are guaranteed a great tasting cup. Sampling the ‘Acaia’ single origin from Brazil (in the form of a cappuccino), which placed 11th in the ‘Cup of Excellence 2013,’ the coffee was clean in taste and gentle in consistency. Showcasing subtle notes of chocolate and caramel and finished off nicely with real homemade Swiss dark cocoa sprinkled on top. So for anyone craving a decent hot beverage (including a divine hot-chocolate and good selection of quality teas) and a trip down memory lane, this is the place for you!

Cappuccino Rating: 3.5/5 Beans

 

If you would like St Kilda Bites to critique your favourite coffee spot, or you operate a Cafe, please phone the Food Dude on 0427 382 772 or Email: fooddude@stkildanews.com

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