Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 25/40
Bean: Karmee – Organic
Tuesday: I’m sure most of you get this. Do you ever walk past a really uninspired café, however, no matter how much you slag on it you are simply drawn to it? This draw seems to come from walking past it every day, or by its bemusing popularity. Arcadia on Pacific Highway at St Leonards covers all of these boxes for me.
The aptly named Arcadia is found within the highway adjacent shopping arcade on the opposite St Leonards station, in a set of strange shops whose existence I still cannot truly comprehend. Closed on weekends, I can only assume they exist to capture people such as myself who work close by.
Arcadia, inside paints a far brighter picture . Rows of strategically placed chairs and tables litter the shop, the coffee machine sits pride of place right in the centre, some chilled house music plays over the stereo system and purple walls have been used as massive chalk boards, strange as it may sound, this café’s charm works well for the area, whether intentional or not it seems to mock its very dirty busy location.
Walking in I go straight to the counter and order a flat white. The girl there seems remarkably chirpy for a person coming off a 4 day long weekend, but that is part of her job so points there.
I grab a seat in-between two gym instructors (there are quite a lot of them here) and watch the buzz. Most of the people entering seem to be locally employed, rather then locals, bit of an oddity in a café, even at 7:50am in the middle of no where there are plenty of ‘have ins’ (all with their names known to the barista and counter girl) chilling on their laptops (free wifi) or buzzing about.
The coffee comes out in a white cup, the foam is a reasonable height for a flat white, although leaning a little on the heavy side. There is some stylish coffee art happening here with my coffee looking rather sharp with a bit of a fan leaf thing, which is better then many places I’ve been to.
The aroma of the coffee was quite nutty, but rather mild; it’s an organic roast and fits with many of the traditional organic roast flavours you come to expect if you smell enough of them.
Drinking it you’ll notice that the coffee here is both dark and sweet and comes across as quite syrupy in texture. The flavours seem to run from an earthiness which is consistent throughout the experience, to a nuttiness which hits you quite unexpectedly. In saying that it does seem a rather sweet drink with a bit of a fruity / cocoa thing happening. I think the whole experience is limited by the milk of the flat white, which adds an extra set of cream flavours, which to be honest are not as complimentary as they should be. Go the long black.
Overall, it’s a bit of a surprise package here, while the outside of the café (not really the café but the strip of shops) could not be less appealing, it’s a nice enough space inside and one worth stopping at if you happen to be walking down the pacific highway at St Leonards for some reason.
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 7/10
Experience (taste and smell): 6/10
Coffee total: 14/20
2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): a rectangle with purple walls
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 25/40