Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 19/40
I love flying. The are a few things you can buy which really signal of possibility and opportunity more than jumping on a plane to somewhere amazing. The excitement of flying is something I’ve had since I was a kid and as Nerd 2 knows far too well, I like to get to the airport far too early just to savour the experience.
One thing I don’t like about flying however, now I’m all grown up, is the coffee at the airport. Food at SYD airport has improved remarkably over the years (there is now more than just a McDonalds), however coffee options have in general continued its average trajectory.
Flying to MEL this morning I was excited to see a few new coffee options in T2. By scoping out the place quickly in the main food court (right after the security point) I spotted three options that looked okay (maybe even good), Brasserie Bread (seem to have coffee in something other than paper cups although questionable coffee), Toby’s Estate and the other place, whose name I have forgotten [ sorry!] (All Press). In general you typically have time for one (and money!) so there is a huge element of risk to the choice.
Now I just had one coffee so please forgive my inadequate review, but perhaps you’ve tried the other two (or know somewhere else), but I went Toby’s Estate. Why? Well firstly, I work with brands and would hate to break the advertising mentality that ‘big brands are successful because they are big’. Second I’ve reviewed Toby’s Estate well on City Road. Third, I really wanted a good coffee and hoped they could pull it off.
Lining up I saw glasses and cups which gave me some hope that perhaps I could get a sit in drink. However as I ordered a latte “saying for here”, my hopes dashed as my order was written up and a paper cup was put into the production line.
The coffee was made quickly and the solo barista while being flooded with orders did put effort into the pour. He did a nice heart (which would have looked even better in a glass) and handed it off to me. Looks, as takeaway coffee goes, was nice, I like that they put in the effort into the pour and you are given the option put own your own lid.
I went no lid – and walked for 50 meters to grab a window space. Now while I like the idea not having a lid on my coffee in walking to a seat I quickly realised that a smarter move would have been to get one, as I did some fancy footwork around some hyperactive kids.
The coffee’s aroma was almost non-existent by the time I sat down, the silky milk had began to settle and dry and I’m not sure the cardboard helped the experience.
Tasting wise, it was as far from City Road as you can get for Toby’s. A little bland and slightly overheated and I could not really get any sort of discernible favour other than the milk (perhaps some caramel). The coffee just not what you’d expect from the brand.
Perhaps the quantity of milk needed to fill up a whole takeaway cup is either just not that suitable for the lovely and often more punchy bean. Perhaps the pour was a little under-extracted, due to inattention by the barista, due to the pressure he was under to pump out coffee so people will not miss their flights.
Enjoying the view I allowed the coffee to cool and steep. I found the flavours, once the coffee had cooled, were more to what I’d come to expect from the bean – I noted that a delicate and rich milk based cocoa, milky sweet caramel like flavours with an interesting earthy edge to it was starting to develop.
Overall, I’m perhaps being a little harsh on Toby’s Estate however, I do it out of respect to their other key stores they own. If we start thinking about coffee at the airport and not in an absolute Sydney terms, it’s a fine option for a caffeine hit on the go, just not one to savour.
In future I’m not sure why I went a latte in this situation. If I were you, go a mac, long black, espresso or piccolo and hopefully you’ll see the bean at its best.
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): An airport
Cool?:5/10 – I like airports and watching planes…
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 19/40