Coffe: 13/20

Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 24/40

Bean: Sam Di Gabrielian of Di Gabriel (Olio blend)

Wednesday: In a courtyard mostly void of good-looking options, I start my Wednesday morning at Olio, at St Leonards’ Forum building.  I’ve been working in the lower North Shore for about a month now, and as you may have gathered from the slowing down of my posts. Firstly, I have access to my own coffee machine at work. And secondly, and more importantly, there are no exciting coffee shop options that really drive my desire to check them out!

Olio, is an exception to this, from first impressions it has a certain classiness to it (perhaps in part from the lack of options), but also from the way it presents itself, it’s trying to be something different – part wine bar, part coffee shop, part restaurant, doing a bit of everything, really because no one is doing anything of the above.

Olio in the mornings is mostly empty, but there is enough of a buzz of early breakfast types and office workers grabbing a coffee on the go to make this café feel alive. Interesting to note the café has morning news TV going to keep us serious non-city workers in the ‘loop’. Interesting to see cafes with TVs into their shops.

I have come here twice now and both times something unusual happens when sitting down. When it comes to the order (service is fast here I should note) and I say “flat white” or “long black” and the staff member stares at me in shock. “Just a coffee?!” – is written all over their face. Leafy lower north shore just does not seem to get the sit-in coffee with no meal thing.

The coffee, on both occasions arrived in a reasonable time. That’s a good thing around here, as it means that the coffee shop can capture some sit in coffee market (if it exists) from busy lower north shore persons.

So checking out the coffee. The flat white’s aroma is complex thing. It is rich and dark with some smoky and toffee flavours hidden within it. Style wise, it looks cool, some nice art happening here, although this does not seem to be consistent, with some coffees coming out looking a little bland.

Upon tasting it I find it far smoother in taste then the smell would have hinted at. It is a very creamy drink, with more a medium then dark roast flavour. The drink also hides an interesting cocoa earthiness to its aftertaste, which again is pleasantly unexpected.

Letting it sit brings out a bit of a nutty (almond?) flavour, which balances well with the cocoa and toffee flavours that tended to dominant on its arrival.

Also should quickly note here that for the organic lovers, this coffee gets a tick. It’s an interesting blend with beans sourced from all over the place – all organic in origin.

Overall, I like Olio, it’s a little bit poncy and snooty, but then again that’s what the area needs to make a place standout. The Forum’s architecture just does not encourage that cool inner-city thing. But then again I’m not in the inner west or east. For pure feel and for the fact that I can be left alone if with a little struggle to my order, the café wins some marks.

I should note Olio might ring some coffee alarm bells, as it offers (I assume still) a 9-dollar coffee (Kopi Luwak) produced by a wild cat’s (or rodent’s) gut. I love the fact that a coffee shop in his area can do that and I’ll investigate in future as to whether or not this is still a deal here.


1. Coffee score

Style (look and feel): 7/10
Experience (taste and smell): 6/10
Coffee total: 13/20

2. Cafe score 

Style (what’s it feel like): Mediterranean restaurant – come wine bar – come café – come everything
Cool?: 5/10
Service: 6/10
Cafe: 11/20

Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 24/40

View coffee shop in a larger map Olio Cafe | Bar on Urbanspoon

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