Coffee Wars – February 2015

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Little Westbury Café

261B Carlisle Street, Balaclava

Rating: 4.5/5 BeansLittle Westbury 5

It’s often quoted: “the best things come in small packages”, well, if you apply this same philosophy to Little Westbury Café on Carlisle Street, Balaclava, then you’ll realise that this little place is indeed a gem. Yes, small in size it may be, but wait on; Little Westbury Café is big on personality. Colourfully adorned and showcasing consistently friendly and cheerful service, Little Westbury is inviting from the outset. And despite what some might call more of a take-away coffee establishment, there’s room inside and out (for the lucky few that get in first). And lucky for me, on a delightfully warm Saturday morning, I managed to get a seat outside in the sun (at one of their three sidewalk tables).

Ordering a skim cappuccino ($3.50), my coffee was served at just the right temperature, which allowed me to  appreciate the full flavour profile of the beans – and boy was I glad, because the Naked Espresso Mega Choc blend that they use deserves to be savoured. Showcasing delicate notes of milk chocolate and caramel, with a rich dark chocolate finish and using only 100% Arabica beans, it was evident this was a premium blend. Furthermore, my skim cappuccino was daintily sweet and nutty in texture, maintained a light acidity and medium body, and emanated the enticing smell of freshly grounded beans. A dreamy and indulgent blend, guaranteed to satisfy.


The Banff

145 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda

Rating: 4/5 BeansThe Banff short black 1

I remember frequenting this gem of a place ages ago for their cheap delicious pizza’s (the days before gym entered my world and pizza wasn’t so taboo – okay, weekly cheat day now permitted), but who would have thought that this place also does a mean breakfast and a rockin’ good coffee too? Goes to show, you should always pay attention – but hard to do when this cute Canadian-like, ski-lodge café, bar and restaurant distracts you with cheap lunch and dinner specials, and a happy hour from 3pm to 6pm every day.

At least now I’m all over it. I even found out that the breakfast menu was spruced up in December 2014 and the coffee has just been changed over (around the same time). Gee, I’m good – and what great timing to reunite with my old friend too, exciting times. Looking forward to trying The Banff’s new Little Green Bean house blend, my order of a short black ($3) didn’t disappoint. The warm, robust aroma of freshly ground beans first caught my attention, as did the golden rich crema that graced the head of my espresso. Then my palate was met with equally attention grabbing notes of dark cocoa and fruity citrus, which made for an indulgently irresistible brew. To top it all off, my espresso was smooth as a baby’s bottom and maintained a delightful toasty finish to boot. Booyeah!



7 Inkerman Street, St Kilda

Rating: 3.5/5 BeansInkr7 Latte 2

Inconspicuously hidden just off the Inkerman and Grey Street intersection (basically next door to Mr. Wolf), lies a gorgeous little café that almost feels like stepping into one’s house, with wooden floorboards and a clean aesthetic feel. This home away from home is called Inkr7 (not to be confused with Ink
Café and Bistro, serving Asian delights, further down the road next to Aldi) and I recommend you try it.

Not only will Inkr7 impress you with its delightful menu, laidback friendly service and good coffee, but Inkr7 also has an intimate seating area out the back and a relaxing leafy green courtyard that you wouldn’t even know is there. From the small street shop front Inkr7 displays, don’t be fooled, there is more to Inkr7 than initially meets the eye.

Stopping by for a skim latte ($3.50), I was more than happy with their Genovese Super Brazil blend that warmed up my morning. A medium bodied blend with light acidity, which well suites the comfortable atmosphere of its surroundings, my palate was met with a mildly sweet mouthful of caramel, malt and nuts. A very easy coffee to down and to compliment any sweet or savoury purchase, if you like “milky” coffees; the Genovese Super Brazil blend was created for you.


Vespa Museum Café

12-16 Belford Street, St Kilda

Rating: 3.5/5 BeansVesper Museum Cafe Short Mac 3

The Vesper Museum Café is one of those places I knew existed, but didn’t know existed, if that makes any sense? I mean, I’d passed this café before, in either trying to get a park, or to cut through from Acland Street to Barkly Street (it’s a one way street), but I’d never taken the time to properly stop by and really take note. Boy, what a surprise did I get when I did – The Vesper Museum Café is huge! It consumes such a fabulous and open space; and has an outside beer garden to put other neighbouring establishments to shame. This place definitely won’t be a secret for long.

And did I mention there are Vesper scooters everywhere? I mean everywhere! Inside shop, outside shop, out the back of shop – yes, everywhere! I guess that’s why they call it a ‘museum’ café.  Apparently it’s the biggest “collection of original, classic Vespa outside the home of Vespa, Pondatera, Italy”. Impressive, much like their coffee. I ordered a short macchiato ($2.80) and although I would have liked a bit more body to my espresso and a toastier finish to this distinguished fruity and spiced brew (perhaps a little fine tuning on the coffee machine needed), overall I was happy with my espresso’s taste, balanced acidity and presentation. I’d come back for more.

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