Gnome Espresso and Wine Bar

Quick scores:
Coffee: 16/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 33/40
Bean: Their own house blend – Ethiopian/Java/Brazil
Coffee nerd note: Top cafe score as of 10/12/11

Saturday: Having just met up with my mate El, for tacos, a coffee before an arvo drink in Newtown was on the agenda. As it was after 3:30pm and in Surry Hills, some of the more popular options had begun to close, so I had a quick walk down Crown where I quickly found an amazing looking hole in the wall, Gnome Espresso, on the corner of Crown and Davies Street.

Gnome from first appearances is everything one is looking for in a trendy inner city coffee spot. Its machine is busting out coffees like crazy, seats all full of what looks like people ‘in-the-know’, tables and chairs ironically low to the ground, and big window onto the street to get max airflow and sunlight into a small space.

Gnome is also an attractive café to my eye, the interior clashing worn and painting wood, with whites, blacks and blues to find an interesting nautical-inner city space (with a gnome, the name sake of the café).

I walk in and find a table close to the back of the café, away from the great window and closer to the espresso machine and kitchen. The table, to the coffee nerd, is amazing, you can see the heart of this café pumping right before your eyes. You can see the cool number bill system (table 11 was the dude table), the skilled baristas putting blood sweat and tears into each coffee mixing up some great coffee designs, checking the grind and what not, and the flowing order system, with many customers being greeted by name as they come in for a take-away.

Soon after arriving and being asked what I’m looking for today in my coffee a ridiculously attractive coffee appeared in next to no time (?). This flat white, while not scientifically precise as maybe you would find at Toby’s Estate (although in saying that the guy who owns the place came from Toby’s) or Villa Nero, was a very creative attractive masterpiece of a drink, which I must say worked really well with the light brown cups. I should throw in here that (why have this phrase?) my experience with the staff was great I found them to be friendly but not overly in your face, asking a few questions but not too many to be annoying (yeah I like the place).

Taste and smell wise the coffee has an amazing roasted (coffee roast, not beef/chicken roast) aroma, which pleasantly carried into your initial taste.
The flat white has a sweet flavour to it which sat well, close to the tip of your tongue, which was followed by a balancing punchy/bold roasted taste mid-mouth with almost salty overtones. Technical thinking about its creation, it’s hard to fault this coffee, with a perfect balance ratio between foam, and milk.

Just letting my coffee rest for a while, I scope out the vibe of the customers. As you would expect from an inner city café in Surry, customers are as varied as you can get from yuppies to hipsters, to just coffee losers like me sitting in and enjoying the time to themselves with a coffee + book or laptop.

While I did not eat here, an array of fantastic food kept going past me, which I am sure would not disappoint if you tried it (I’m sure it would be ironic in some (hipster?) way). Also a huge plus the café has a small bar licence, so you can pick up a glass of white or red if that’s more your Saturday arvo style.

Side note, there is also a filter coffee option I spied out, which is great for those wanting to try something new (Australians) or needing a taste of home (Americans).

Overall, I love the café, it ticks everything I like in a cafe, while the coffee is not memorable it’s great stuff. Although I have reviewed zero cafes in Surry to date, from my own experience I know it’s clearly a top one in the famous café district of this city.
1. Coffee score
Style (presentation): 9/10
Experience (taste): 7/10
Coffee total: 16/20

2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Ultimate hole in the wall, inner city den (could be Melbourne).
Cool?: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Cafe: 17/20

Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 33/40

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