Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 20/40
Ever wonder which of the Strand’s coffee shops was better of the two? Well, for this nerd, it is a question that I have wondered for a while. So this morning I intended to find out.
I don’t need to tell you how wonderful the Strand Arcade is, it really is a stunning bit of architecture and more so around Christmas where gold, silver and reds add to the wonderful colour pallet of the arcade.
Elixir Espresso is one if two coffee shops that are very well located on the main floor of the Strand. Elixir is the one close to George Street.
Having made the active choice to tackle a Strand Arcade coffee shop the next challenge presented itself, could I get a table? I was damn lucky that just as I was walking past a table opened up for me. Nabbing the table was a little harder however, as these was a bit of a rush for it. Some skilful weaving on my behalf later and I was set.
Having scored the table the next challenge presented itself – where was the service? Now this should have been a rather odd question to ask, as I could see 3 staff members milling about right in front of me. About 5 mins later, with me just chilling on my iPad, one staff member picked up I was yet to be served and on approach was quite apologetic.
The coffee was brought over at more of a speed than the service. However, on its arrival, I was a little underwhelmed by it, looks wise. No art attempt had been made, layering-wise it was a little milk heavy and heat wise it as just at that little too hot to hold or drink level. It reminded me of my coffee at Rickies, in that this was clearly a take away coffee in a glass. Super disappointing as, unlike Rickies who was pumping out the take-aways, there were zero take away coffees being made.
The aroma of Elixir’s coffee was reasonably rich, with a roasted, fruity and perhaps a little spicy smell to it. It came across as quiet a sweet drink, which was a good sign for an overheated milk based coffee as most other combos of flavours do not benefit from overly heated milk.
Taste wise, I found the coffee to be quite fruity indeed. It had a bit of a caramelised thing going on, which I assume was both the result of the milk being heated to such high a level and the bean. My initial flavour fears, given my fears on the heat, were unfounded and it was not that unpleasant at all! The aftertaste of the drink lent itself to roast rather than the bean, but it too was pleasantly sweet (again I think compliments to the bean).
I thought the biggest favour that I could do to this coffee was letting it steep, however, my assumption was very wrong. As this drink cooled I found its initial sweet fruitiness fade away, as the cost of overheating the milk finally took its toll on the flavour. While initially it had this wonderfully sweet, fruity, roasted flavour, the near immediate aftertaste took hold, leaving it with more of a powdery, disappointing, coffee roast meets milk flavour.
Overall, for me it’s an easy choice between the two Strand Arcade cafes, Strand Espresso is a bit of a better choice. Elixir, while having a better bean, let me down on service, coffee presentation, taste and looks when compared to the Strand Espresso. Elixir by itself is an ok choice and likely a fine choice for a take-away, however the service was super disappointing and the heat of the coffee just too high to work as a solid sit in option.
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 5/10
Experience (taste and smell): 5/10
Coffee total: 10/20
2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Feels like it would be a good option at a Westfield
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 20/40