Coffee Wars – November

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By Ravenous Renee

 

Bensons Café
146-148 Martin St, Brighton
Rating: 3.5/5 Beans

When heading over to the Martin Street 7-Eleven to grab a quick coffee on the run, only to find the coffee machine broken (just my luck), my morning wasn’t off to a good start. Then, when stepping into the corner newsagents to grab my latest fitness mag, I bumped into Jerome – the charming and ruggedly good looking young chap that I’d randomly met the night before at a hip little burger joint down St Kilda, whom just happened to be, as I found out, the talented barista at Benson’s Cafe on Martin Street – and my morning was turned around.

Stepping into the double front establishment; I felt at peace from the moment I walked in the door. A gorgeously distinguished, open and ample space, this newly renovated and recently taken over establishment, exuded an air of refined elegance, whilst still maintaining a family friendly vibe, welcome to all. Further complimentary to this wonderful business, was Benson’s choice of Certified Fairtrade Organic Jasper Coffee. Ordering a hot cappuccino, my coffee was mellow, smooth and mild in acidity and lulled me into a relaxed state of mind. Showcasing delicate flavours of hazelnut, cocoa and berry, it maintained a medium body and a creamy layer of froth. Benson’s coffee may not be the adrenalin junkie’s first pick for the ‘kick’, but indeed great for anyone wishing to sooth their soul.

Benson's cappuccino

Benson’s cappuccino

 

 

Café Racer
15B Marine Parade, St Kilda
Rating: 4/5 Beans

Situated opposite St Kilda foreshore, on Beach Road, just past the St Kilda Marina; this is one gem of a find I suggest you don’t race by. Newly taken over and given a spruce up in March this year; pop in, say hi and hang up your bike – this is one place you won’t want to leave.

A cycling enthusiasts haven; owner Jim Noutis has creatively worked his passion for riding into his business, much to be appreciated by his cyclist regulars and those that admire his concept alike. Still a normal café, don’t be fooled, this place will have you soaking up more than just the buzzing beachside, adrenalin-filled atmosphere; delicious eats (must try: choc or vanilla cronut) and great coffee are to be had here too.

Ordering a long macchiato, nothing failed to disappoint – from taste, strength and consistency – the Genovese Super Brazil blend was right on par. If you like the thought of caramel, hazelnut, and chocolaty undertones, then this is the brew for you. Subtle notes of citrus also mean that this coffee showcases light fruity notes and a mild acidity that makes this an invigorating caffeine hit to down. The coffee here is to be especially commended for its well-executed extraction and superb presentation – love, care and appreciation for the bean, is evident in every cup.

Cafe Racer Long Mac

Cafe Racer Long Mac

Hide and Cheek
77 Inkerman Street, St Kilda
Rating: 4/5 Beans

Recommended to this cafe by a couple at my gym; this was an establishment that for a long time went under my radar. Cheekily hiding away on its own little corner (towards Brighton Road on Inkerman Street), this place is easy to drive by, but once tried, hard to forget. Here you can grab some delectable vegan, gluten free and other delicious treats, alongside a great cup of coffee too.

With an almost oriental meets vintage, old school feel; Hide and Cheek is quirky, homely and fun. Maintaining a chilled out vibe with soothing, soulful and upbeat tunes (playing softly in the background) and plenty of natural light to awaken you gently over exceptionally good, Melba organic coffee – you’ll be happy you stopped by.

Ordering a hot soy latte as I perched myself up on a bar stool at their window, after being warmly greeted by both the barista and chef as I walked in; I was happy with my experience on all accounts. My latte was presented to perfection; smooth in consistency and maintaining excellent form, and its gentle nutty and fruity flavours made it a delightful coffee, complimentary to any dish. A medium to dark roast with low to medium acidity, this brew, delightful like Hide and Cheek’s hospitable staff, will brighten up your day.

Hide and cheek soy latte

Hide and cheek soy latte

Glass Merchants
63-65 Nelson St, Balaclava
Rating: 4.5/5 Beans

Accidently stumbling across this modern-industrial, mixed era, large eclectic warehouse space, there is so much happening visually in this hip haven, that adults and kids alike, will be captivated in awe. Once an old glass merchants factory, hence its name; this new kid on the block (which only opened in the later part of 2014) showcases catchy, upbeat and old school tunes, a creative full-range menu and coffee with perky personality. Without doubt, Glass Merchants maintains an uplifting and infectious air and guaranteed once tried you will want to come back for more.

Excited to stop by and experience all that this wonderful café has to offer, I knew the best place to start is always with a caffeinated brew. Ordering a short black ($3.50), I got more than I bargained for. With all coffee’s served as double ristrettos, my espresso was brilliantly bold and like the show, beautiful. True to its name, this Five Senses ‘Dark Horse’ blend (Ethiopia, Guatemala and Sumatra) didn’t succumb to all its glory from first initial taste, but rather unravelled its true colours on the palate upon letting it linger. Surprisingly but welcomingly intense, and punchy once settled on the tastebuds, this light roast with medium body, shouts warmer Melbourne weather and indulgence (think spring blossom floral notes meet orange citrus, cherry and dark cocoa). Need I say more?

Glass Merchants Short Black

Glass Merchants Short Black

 

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