Sunday, April 15, 2012

On the coffee trail ... Part 2

Foxy Brown Espresso
31 South Crescent, Northcote
Tel: 9481 4454
Visited Sunday 15 April 2012 at around 11.00am.
Take-Away Cappuccino $3.70
Rating: 8.5/10

Close to Westgarth station opposite the Hurstbridge rail line, this converted Federation-style house has tables inside and out (on three sides of the building) and a verandah out the front. It appears busy and popular, and had a variety of breakfast/brunch/lunch options (including burgers and sandwiches), cakes and muffins. There was unpleasantly loud music playing when I came in, but this stopped abruptly.

Once again the froth had collapsed by the time I had walked home, but the coffee left behind was a milky rich inviting hue. Taste-wise it was smooth, soft and creamy with a hint of sweetness (perhaps both a benefit of unhomogenised milk) and a nutty almost tangy aftertaste. Sipping it created a warm and homely sensation, as if you were sitting around the kitchen table (or an open fire) savouring your coffee. Very drinkable but flavoursome and satisfying - no need to gulp!

(From "The Age Coffee Army Handbook 2012"
Boy, are these guys into coffee: they have a custom espresso machine and source their own beans widely (PNG, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and beyond) and have them roasted by an independent specialist in North Melbourne. Ask for a "cortado" - a half-strength half-latte from a single-origin bean.

Penny Farthing Espresso
206 High Street, Northcote
Tel: 9482 2246
Visited Sunday 15 April 2012 at around 4.30pm.
Take-Away Cappuccino $3.50
Rating: 8.5/10

This tiny shop has seating inside and out, and has the air of a well-loved old fashioned kitchen with wooden furniture. It is open from breakfast until late most days (ideal if visiting the Westgarth Cinema). The service was very friendly and the barista seemed genuinely pleased that I asked about the coffee they were using.

This coffee had a gorgeous complex sharp and inviting aroma and the flavour was correspondingly multi-dimensional but very distinctive. Closing my eyes and tasting the nutty bitterness conjured up thoughts of hot steamy climes and rich brown colours. Very smooth on the palate with a gentle aftertaste. Another one to savour and enjoy.

Update: Monday 5 November 2012 at around 3pm.
Based on my previous positive experience, I met a friend here for afternoon coffee. Our coffees were served in a cup and saucer and beautifully decorated (see photo). Unfortunately they were only lukewarm on this occasion. However, my cappucino was beautifully flavoured, with a strong, dark and smooth taste which made me think of tropical rainforests, and there was some natural sweetness added by the milk. There was a subtle aftertaste which reinforced the flavour.

My friend ordered one of the home-made sultana and fig muffins, which was generously sized and a rich golden colour in appearance. It was pleasant enough taste-wise, but unfortunately a but overcooked on the outside and very crumbly.

Table service is provided if you are 'dining in' and was friendly and attentive. A carafe of water was provided on the table. More substantial food is also available for the hungry diner. There were several people in the cafe sitting alone using computers, so this is obviously tolerated if you buy something.

(From "The Age Coffee Army Handbook 2012"
Brothers Trevor and Steve Simmons roast, brew and retail coffee from this quaint Northcote shopfront, including a single-origin decaf and their Vintage Espresso blend featuring Sumatran, Colombian, PNG, Guatemalan and Brazilian beans.

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