CLOSED: Strand Espresso

Coffee: 13/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 27/40

One cannot feel anything other than a little classy when you sit down for a coffee at the Strand Espresso. A long time favourite to Pitt Street Mall shoppers, this cafe has had a bit of a notable resurgence of late with a mention in the SMH Good Cafe Guide 2012, boosting its inner city cred.

A dependable favourite of mine over the years, more so when Nerd 2 and I are around Pitt Street Mall, I often insist a stop here for well deserved browsing break (exhausting stuff!).

On this occasion, I get here a bit before Nerd 2 and take a seat (in the arcade rather than the shop). Honestly, service here can be hit or miss however, on this occasion, a young guy comes over to me pretty quickly and asks me what I’m looking for – I let him know that I’m waiting on someone and if he could come back in 5, “cool” he says as he focuses on the next person.

In this time waiting for Nerd 2 I take a look around the area. The arcade is a wonderful space, with its mosaic-tiled floor, wide-open shopping arcade spaces, glass ceiling and wonderfully cool and unique shops. In my mind it gives the QVB a huge run for its money in looks and style.

The nice thing about the café itself, is that it has been designed with the aim to fit within the Strand’s look and feel, or for all I know and to the cafe’s credit is an original(ish) café for the arcade.

Inside the café you will find many dark and quirky spots to sit, its quaintness, quirkiness and size, feels right. However, if the arcade’s more your scene, like it is mine, than take a seat on many of the tables outside and breathe in the atmosphere.

A gentle tap on my shoulder wakes me from my daydreaming as Nerd 2 takes her seat, we seek out service – an earl grey tea and latte soon are on their way.

The coffee was slow to come out, yet I feel this can be slightly forgiven here (at least by most drinkers), as no one really seemed in a huge hurry on this Thursday afternoon.

As it arrived I note that it is a pretty good-looking latte, although nothing outstanding. Heat is not an issue here, in fact it’s right on that acceptable hot level, if you’re one of those people who like really hot milk this may be a new go to for you. Proportions are reasonably on, although it is a little milk heavy for my taste.

The coffee’s aroma has that classic Italian dark roast smell. It has a rather intense aroma hinting at what I would guess could be fruity tones. However, this is damn hard to work out over the roast and milk.

While I am not a huge Italian roast fan I do love the fact they use it here, it is just so in keeping with the arcade’s history (FYI – Sydney’s espresso coffee scene came from its Italian migrants).

As you would guess, if you’re a lover of those classic espresso roasted flavours, you’re in the right spot here. The drink really does have that classic, intense, strong espresso taste which some just love, balanced against some simple but nice fruity flavours. The drink also had a short lived and reasonably pleasant after-taste to it.

Letting it cool, the Italian roasted essence tended to permeate most levels of the drink’s flavours. This produced quite a stronger drink then you may initially expect, if you are expecting a Campos kind of experience, think again.

Overall, while Sydney may have developed better espresso choices, the Strand Espresso is a long time favourite of mine which I am sure many will continue to go to. The charm of the cafe is undeniable and its placement within the Strand Arcade. While my scoring, in the end, may not reflect this as an amazing cafe, I cannot think of many better places to stop and sit. The Strand Espresso it’s a place to linger in a busy city.

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): classiest lingering spot in the city.
Cool?: 8/10
Service: 6/10
Cafe: 14/20
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 27/40

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One thought on “CLOSED: Strand Espresso

  1. I've recently found an old manual coffee grinder in the family home. Over 40 years old and works like a dream. I make coffee in a 'Napoletana' flip coffee maker and it's great for that style. More on my last blogpost.


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