Ralph’s Cafe (USYD)

coffee: 12/20
café: 23/40
bean: Ralph’s secret blend (or so I was told when I asked)

Oh Ralphs’, few who have attended Sydney University in the last 20 years have not graced his oval adjacent café. Located within the Arena Sports Centre (Old Women’s Gym, for you old school types) Ralph’s Cafe is the hang out spot of sports people, science and education nerds and college kids (and nerds) alike.

While the café may resemble a locker room or shed (notice the single scull above your head) few can doubt that consistency is a huge pull factor to the Ralph experience. You know you’ll get fine coffee. You know it will be in a random take away cup, unrelated to the café itself. You know that there will be some great Italian (or if I am being classy/ sophisticated about it Italian-fusion) sandwiches. You know Ralph will be sitting in his spot or shouting at students to make up their minds in line. You know it will be of reasonable value. And you know you can sit here for hours without being bothered.

When I get to the front of the line, I am in my own world. This will be the first time I have ordered sit in at Ralphs. Does such a thing exist? When I was asked “and what will you have” the only thing I could think of was Latté for here.

There is no table service here – that I am aware of for us normal non-sporting non-young college girls. So once you order you walk on over to the other side of the counter and wait for your coffee and/or toasted sandwich.

My latte comes out at a reasonable pace, given the quality of orders, and the barista/ sports enthusiast guy (son of ralph?) seems not to miss a step, with skim cap, followed by soya flat white, iced coffee and so on being made.

I carry my coffee over to a table by the big windows over looking the field and take a good look at it. The drink is well proportioned, with a good quantity of foam to milk in the glass. It has a rough cocoa smell, which is not unpleasant at all. The coffee, to be honest, looks a little disappointing, very little effort was put into its finishing, although the coffee foam has that nice shiny look to it.

Taste wise it’s nothing amazing, with a slight burnt milk after taste lingering after every sip. I think when the milk for my drink was heated up the jug was not totally emptied. After taste aside, it had a reasonably strong flavour and hints of the cocoa smell were evident when drinking it, although the milk really was an issue it was over done and lacked texture to it.

Ralphs over all is nothing amazing, but neither is it terrible. It’s located in a unique part of campus, and has added a lot to the quality of coffee on campus today. Sitting outside by the oval behind the nets, or near the big open windows inside is nice, if a little shambolic. One always has a since of accomplishment when you have worked out the unspoken rules of how to order and what not (made easier by Ralph’s ‘rules’ on the big board). Good news is this place is getting renovated so may be a far nicer place to sit in future.

Sit in scores:

coffee: 6/10
style/put together: 5/10
total coffee: 11/20
feel: hip to be fit sports locker room
cool? 6/10 (tables and chairs need a revamp)
service: 5/10
total café: 22/40

Monday: On my studying odyssey I decided to hit up Ralph’s Café again to get the final word in on this University of Sydney café. I order a flat white in a quickly moving line. The drink was hot and well proportioned. The barista was yet again quite and quite involved in what he was doing. When I walked over to a table and had a look, it was easy to see that this drink was superior to the sit in I had had only days before. Far more care had gone into this take away coffee, and while not featuring any deign, had an appealing look to it. Taste wise the milk was heated to almost the point of being burnt however, some people would like this.

Scores (take away):

Coffee: 6/10
Style: 7/10

Café experience: same as before.
feel: hip to be fit sports locker room
cool? 6/10 (tables and chairs need a revamp)
service: 5/10
total: 24/40

So final scores for this cafe looking at both take away and sit in averages.

Total cafe score
coffee: 12/20
cafe: 23/40

One thought on “Ralph’s Cafe (USYD)

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