Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 27/40
I’ve been critiqued for visiting places that are too ‘wanky’. And look let’s face it, inner city cafes are wanky places. If you’re keen of escaping the Newtown/Darlinghurst/Bondi scene and people me (most of the year), head west.
This Saturday morning finds Nerd 2 and I at Sydney Markets, out near Olympic park. If you’ve never been to the sprawling marketplace, and you live in Sydney you should check it out. It is more or less the place you go to get fruit and veggies without the multiple middleman, often right off the back the farmer’s truck. For my hipster comrades it’s the Urban Harvest Collective without the Urban and Collective parts.
After a 6 or 7am shop (get here 730 at the very latest as the good stuff is gone) and having picked through multitudes of veggies, negotiating the cost of mint and Asian greens down and bought far more food than you have anticipated, it’s time to start looking for a coffee. Let’s face it you’ve been awake for 2+ hours and it’s only 8am Saturday morning.
What is wonderful about the market, food aside, is the many generations of Australians who have played a role in establishing and using the marketplace. Europeans have played a big role in developing the market particularly Italians whose roots you can see in the stalls, banter, visitors and importantly for us the coffee.
I’m sure all regulars have a go to café on site, and I’m not sure I have the time nor Nerd2’s patience with me to try them all. So, thanks to a recommendation we walked through the flower market to Scala.
Found, if your standing within at the Flower Markets in the direction away from the Food Markets, the cafe is like your Italian mate’s grandparents opened a cafe.
Scala is beyond charming. Packaged pasta, olive oil, mineral water, coffee beans and tinned tomatoes line the walls. Dried and cured meat hands behind the counter and huge floral displays sit on the counters.
Walk into the organised chaos and grab a table. The ordering process, strangely suits the feel of the place, just wait at the counter a while (don’t worry there is no wrong place to stand) and you’ll undoubtedly look confused and the staff will sort you out.
I went a latte and the Italian omelette; Nerd2 went for a mineral water and strawberry ricotta pancakes (I had a tiny bit of breakfast envy in her order).
Both the food and coffee appeared reasonably quickly, brought over by a charming elderly man. The coffee was made and presented with no fuss. Look, I’ve gotten in trouble from cafe loyalists for making down no fuss coffees and the same will happen here, just thought I’d let you know.
The coffee, Molinari, had those classic flavours that you’d associated with an Italian style. The aroma was quite smoky, even through the heated milk and had some light hints of fruit balanced against some stronger milk chocolate flavours.
The initial taste found the espresso to be quite heavy in body and medium in acidity. The flavours of the roaster were initially quite prominent with the ashy flavours coming through quite strongly.
Let your coffee sit and let your table neighbours bring you into their shopping conversation (it’ll happen). This waiting will allow the body of the coffee to strengthen and you’ll find intensified chocolate flavours making it a satisfying milk coffee experience.
Overall, if you ever wished you had Italian grandparents this might be as close as you’ll ever get. The food is ridiculously generous and old school tasty, the coffee made with traditional thought and the overall experience, particularly if you add in the fact you’ve likely shopped at the market before hand, a great way to start an active Sydney weekend.
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 5/10
Experience (taste and smell): 7/10
Coffee total: 13/20
2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): An Italian supermarket
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 27/40