Joe Black


Coffee: 17/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 34/40
Bean: Five Senses

Thursday: Praise to the moe! Found tucked away in what could be described as the very edge of Surry, maybe more the city, it is one of Sydney’s newer (about 6 months) café haunts. With only the smallest of doors on Commonwealth Street, (with a table to match) this place would be easy to miss, if it weren’t for the huge crowd of people walking in and out.

The café is everything you would hope for in a Surry Hills joint (may be more of a Melbourne St Kilda cafe): the café has amusing menus; murals on the wall; and super friendly staff, particularly when placed in contrast to the usual Sydney CBD city joint.  Walking in I was blasted with something that sounded remotely like car chase music from an 80’s movie, a great experience I must say.

The café attracts all types, from regulars (of whom I assume are groupies of the cafe), to newbies (like myself) to businesspersons to those who just stumble upon it on a trip down a random city lane way.

It’s 11:30am, so I arrive before and after the two rushes of the morning. The café is somewhat quiet, which is great as I get my choice of the seating. I go up, a little distracted by all the cool stuff everywhere, and order a flat white and a toasted sandwich. The guy behind the bar is the friendly sort, and I am sure if you’re looking for a chat about coffee, weather or whatever he would be keen.

Coffee and sandwich almost arrive together and I’m super happy with how it all looks. The sandwich is on one of those kid’s plastic plates, which I think is ironic (I’m told I use this word far too often when describing Sydney cafes) and suits the café, and the coffee is cheekily styled with a double fan thing going on (I am sure there is a little use of extra equipment to make that look). 

The coffee itself has nice sweet undertones to the smell, I can’t fully place it, something along the lines of a thick honey perhaps, you can smell right away it’s going to be a bit of a medium to bold espresso drink. It has a ridiculously thin and perfect in layering to it. Joe’s barista certainly pushes the new-old flat white style to its limit, it works really well.

At this point I can’t help but judge Joe’s bean against the last two cafes I have been to in the last week Mecca and Campos. Joe, unlike these two gods of the Sydney scene, does not have that creamy dominant taste, but rather a far bolder taste, which tends to be dominant over the milk, rather then work with it.  I don’t have a preference, it is just something interesting about what the café is going for.

The flavour while drinking it is far less honey driven then I thought it would be from smelling it. Instead drinking it I find a more fruity sweet drink. Indeed, the coffee itself is quite pushy to the drinker with an interesting combination of some pretty intense flavours. It’s really enjoyable.

Things to note, that I spied some great stuff sitting here a while. I noticed that they have some siphon coffee decanters (best word I can think of right now) set up. Siphon coffee, is something to behold if done well, it’s a cross between a long black and a tea, bring out some fantastic flavours in the process. I really want to try this. Second I can see their take away cups have moes on them. Amazing.

Overall, I am really happy I came across this café, while it’s beans are no Mecca, nor it’s art perfection no Campos, it’s crazy cool café and produces some of the best coffee I have had in Sydney. It’s just crazy cool (sorry for repetition) place and gets close to top marks for that. What a god send to this end of Surry (or to the West in of the CBD itself)!

1. Coffee score
Style (look, feel, consistency): 8/10
Experience (taste and smell): 9/10 (I would go 8.5, but it gets rounded up)
Coffee total: 17/20

2. Cafe score 
Style (what’s it feel like): church of the moe
Cool?: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Cafe: 17/20

Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 34/40

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