Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 32/40
Bean: Single Origin Roasters
Surry Hills on a Sunday afternoon around lunch is always a bit of a challenge. The suburb always seems quiet compared to some of Sydney’s other suburban shopping centres, accept when it comes for looking for a table to grab a coffee where there is a huge battle occurring for table space. This can be magnified – the further you head towards Cleveland Street where lines, outside doors start to occur. The great thing about this is that it forces you to walk beyond what you know, to find somewhere new.
This Sunday my mate Chris and I were in this predicament. Spud, Gnome, Bourke Street Bakery, etc were looking erratic and busy, however, luckily a café which was managing itself far better then most had the table we were looking for, The Book Kitchen.
The Book Kitchen is found on Devonshire Street, pretty much across the road from Bourke Street Bakery. The Book Kitchen, as a non-Surry resident is new news to me (although not Nerd 2, who keeps up to date with food developments). Have to say, it looks good from the outset.
Walking in we were greeted with that great smell only a place that is pumping out coffee and cooking a late breakfast can do, I love it. We grabbed a free table nearer to the back, walking past Surry residents talking about the bike lanes, graffiti or the Sydney Morning Herald’s Rinehart take over and skirting past shelves full of cooking books and prams to eagerly start the ordering process.
A waiter guy quickly over, picked up our coffee orders and gave us menus to see if we felt like a ridiculously late breakfast or early afternoon tea (who has lunch these days?).
I went a latte, which seems to be a trend of mine as of late (I’m enjoying the interesting glasses which coffee gets presented in), while Chris went a flat white.
In the space between coffee ordering and delivery, Chris and I chatted about Aussie politics, cars bikes (see we fit in to Surry well). While we were chatting people just flowed in and out. Coffees beside us were ordered, a steak meal with a red (wine) was happening behind. It’s an interesting idea for café to be doing a bit of everything and transforming itself into some more formal as the time gets closer to 6pm (dinner).
The coffee came out to us quickly and we were presented with two sharp, near identical looking coffees (bar the fact mine was a latte and Chris’s a flatwhite). You can tell the barista either likes consistency or is trying to work on a style of artwork because they both had a rather cool, very similar looking bit of latte art. My latte was served in an egg shaped glass and was a little thin on the foam for a latte, but did look sharp indeed.
I had some issues working on the aroma of the coffee, not due to it being a bad coffee, but rather, due to all the ambient smells of the café, it was not until I had my nose right within the glass that I could even try and work out what I was smelling (I got foam on my nose). The aroma was very delicate and had almost a vanilla creamy smell to it.
The taste of the coffee was really interesting. It was a really quite delicate and balanced drink. I found it to be of light to medium body but still a little punchy. The tastes were simply fantastic with a strong fruity overtone to the drink (almost passionfruit like) with a really cool milky vanilla undertone, which later transformed to play the main role of the flavour as the aftertaste. It is easy to pick that this is from Single Origin Roasters down the road (after my moment of brilliance at picking the roaster, Chris pointed out that they advertise this blend origin in the menu). It’s not however the Single Origin House which you may know, but rather something a little different, house blend with a twist?
Overall, I am a big fan of the place. It has a fantastic vibe with the right mix of warehouse to café with that added charm of selling a huge library of cookbooks. The café has super friendly and efficient staff, tasty and mostly healthy and organic (…come on this is Surry) food, although I only went for banana bread so cannot completely confirm the food, and best of all a great, interesting and consistent coffee in a place that does not have unmanaged Sunday line out the door… yet. I rate it.
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10 (let down by to little foam)
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
Coffee total: 16/20
2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): foodie warehouse
Cafe total: 16/20
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 32/40