Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 31/40
Look I admit I’ve been a bit shit of late. You see, while I’ve been writing drafts upon drafts of different places, I’ve been terrible at getting them up online… not to mention, I may have been a little Darlinghurst centric of late in my reviews. Hopefully this is set to change with a review that likely should have occurred in 2012.
A work away day on a cold Thursday this week finds me arriving 40 mins early to the Grounds of Alexandria to give it a spin before we dive into a brainstorm.
The Grounds is a place I’ve been meaning to come for a long time, it has been one of those it Inner West cafés people love to love, and love to talk about even more (this must be one of the Instagramed locations in Sydney?). Even if you’re not familiar with the place (unlikely if you’re reading this blog), surely you heard about the pig (Kevin Bacon), which got pig-nabbed last year?
If you’ve not been here before you’ll likely be as lost as me when you walk in. Walking around the grounds of the Grounds is not an unpleasant experience though. Say hi to the pig and macaw as you search for the coffee machine.
Once I had located the café itself and as it was 815am, I decided to ignore the signs telling me to ‘wait here for a seat’ (don’t try this on a weekend) and instead walk on in and grab a table near the back of the inside cafe.
The inside space was loud, colourful, cold and very barn/warehouse like, I loved it. The atmosphere was fantastic. Retro-ish music played, busy chatter mixed into the high ceilings and the sounds of an espresso machine pumping away was a constant only broken by the baristas emptying out the coffee grinds into the bin.
Food, often modern twists on classic home cooked meals for breakfast flowed around me, reminding me that I had infact skipped breakfast that day. Note, the breakfast burger, which I had later was amazing.
The coffee appeared. Looks wise it had the classic pour heart, more rustic than perfectionist thing, which I must say surprised me a little for a place priding itself on the coffee and presentation. The coffee had clearly taken a bit of a round about way to get here as the frothed milk while still silky had the signs of drying to it.
The aroma was a little spicy to the nose with little hint of the roaster. Taste wise, coming from their still pretty unique (for Australia) La Marzocco machine I found it to be one of the more delicate coffees I’ve had of late. Initially you may, like me, struggle to discern what’s behind this bean, letting it sit, revealed a little more.
The wait brought forward some interesting fruity honeycomb like flavours mixed with a bit of an interesting slight spice, which if you paid me I’d not be able to guess. An espresso I had later in the day revealed more of a full bodied and rich experience some reasonable acidity and that added complexity of sweetness going on which I found in the latte.
Overall, it’s a killer joint. The staff seem cool and to manage the ebbs and flows of traffic well. The space is a great urban barn and undoubtedly still one of the more unique cafe propositions in Sydney. And the coffee one of the most delicate experiences you can come across.
My three bits of advice. First, come here on a weekday if you can, the lines (what scared me from coming) are non-existent. The second is with your espresso coffee skip the latte and go something with considerable less milk. And the third is perhaps their filtered coffee could be the best experience yet.
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 7/10
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
Coffee total: 15/20
2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): an urban barn
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 31/40