Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Short Macchiato, Macchinetta, Melbourne Airport

Spotting the lid of the elaborately large stovetop-shaped storefront while I was checking in upstairs, I realised this was a good opportunity to check in on Macchinetta and see how the shots are shaping up. Things have changed. Last time I baulked at the grouphead sitting on the bench. This time, he pulled the shot, took a look at it, had a sniff, raised an eyebrow, tipped it out, and made another one. That's very rare, especially at an airport. But I was the only person in the queue. It seems everyone still is still going to the Hudsons on the other side of the metal detector. That's a perfectly good reason to go to Hudsons instead: it's hard to get your metal objects into the tray while carrying an espresso. I had to hold it between my teeth.

But Macchinetta care about the quality of what they serve you. Hudsons is more like fast food.

It looks like I just may fill up my loyalty card and get my free coffee at the end. Eventually.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Double Macchiato, Tate St Ives, St Ives

As predicted, St Ives is to Newquay what Byron is to Surfers. In other words: more art, less tacky souvenirs; less games arcades, more independent shops. Presumably there's also a lot more decent coffee, but I became utterly confused by the winding, cobbled streets, and it was easier to just follow the signs to the Tate Gallery.

The Macchiato was excellent, as was the sweeping view of the ocean. The current exhibition in the Tate was perplexing to say the least. Some pieces were damned impressive, but others looked like something anyone could devise with the help of a ruler and a set-square. The strangest by far was the piece that looked to me like a lump of rock, and was inexplicably titled "Sleeping Musician". Can someone else try and get a look at it and explain it to me?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

DIY Double Macchiato, Mocha Berry Cafe, Glastonbury

I needed a quick coffee while I was waiting for the abbey ruins to open. There were two options immediately opposite the entrance gates, and Mocha Berry barely had a seat free. A good sign. As always in England (see Sam's comment on my last post - well said!), went for the DIY Mac since they didn't actually list Macchiato on the menu.

The best thing about this place was that the ambience was exactly what you would expect in Glastonbury. Each table was handpainted, mine with bright flowers. And in one corner there was the self-explanatorily named "Book Swap Shelf", handwritten on a scrap of cardboard. Lovely.

Oh, and the abbey ruins were impressive too, even in the bitter cold.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Long Macchiato, The Bishop, Kingston-Upon-Thames

Yes that's right. A Long Macchiato, rather than a Double Macchiato, in England. That's because Maria made it. For the last 6 years, the most Melbourne-like coffee you can get in London has been from wherever Maria is. And this one didn't disappoint.

The Bishop is a pub owned by one of the big, big chains of pubs here. Apparently, whenever there are new staff, Maria trains them in making good coffee. And then she trains them in making coffee the way that this big, big chain of pubs expects. 'Nough said.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry, Xmas, Everybody

I'll be back on the 27th. To a caffeinated new year,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Long Macchiato, Brother Baba Budan, City

JB Hi-Fi was insane today. At their DVD section on Lonsdale St the queue went all the way to the back wall, took an U-turn around the Anime shelf, and made it half way back to the counter. People were still joining the queue. I said, "Fuck this, I'd rather have a coffee."
I didn't feel like much milk, and wanted an excuse to sit down for at least seven minutes to get away from the Christmas shopping crowd. This kind of situation often calls for a long mac.
This is quite easily the most spectacular long mac I've ever had. Except for that bit at the front. Sorry about that. I just had to drink some before I took the photo. Awestruck by the radness.

Halftte, home

Shit. Christmas shopping. Shit.

I think that sums it up.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Latte, North Island, Fitzroy North

A lot of places use the portafilter that can feed two cups at once. If someone orders a "strong", they point both ends into the cup. If they're making one non-strong, the other half of the shot just splurts into the dreg drawer. Some places actually pull the second half into a small metal jug, which is then ceremonially dumped into the dreg drawer anyway, or into the sink. North Island, however, curiously pull the other half of the shot into another glass. The glass gets set aside. When I turned up today, they had built up quite a collection. About four unused shots.
Ryan: What happens to them?
Barista: Iced coffee sometimes. Or they get thrown out eventually.
Ryan: It's a bit sad, really, isn't it.
Lea: Maybe you can sponsor a discarded espresso.
Ryan: "For the price of a coffee, you too can make a difference..."

Latte, home

I discovered that site at Brunswick Street Bookstore in the silly/stockingfiller/amusing section, as it is the latest blog to be inaugurated as a book-turned-blog for the festive season, in the tradition of Stuff White People Like - The Book. I hadn't heard of Sleeveface otherwise before, but judging by its status as the latest craze that everyone is talking about I'm sure I would have heard about it some other way in the next three days.

Blogs in book format. Wow, what a way to get people to read your blog. They might not buy the book, but they sure will go home and read exactly the same thing for free online when they get home. That would have to be the most effective - if a little long-winded - way to attract site traffic. The only other blog I can think of being actually promoted is the Muscles Music Blog. I saw rock posters advertising that, but it still took me months (until right now, in fact) to actually check the site out. This isn't necessarily a sign that using rock posters to advertise a blog is ineffective. It probably just means that I see posters while driving, and am less likely to write a URL into my phone while driving than I am while trying to not buy a book.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Espresso, Sousou, Fitzroy

This is my first decent espresso from here in a long time. If JD Salinger was writing my dialogue I'd probably say, "Christ, that damn coffee was really goddam decent, I swear to hell." I guess that might be the end of my "Maybe we should have coffee somewhere else" rule for Madame SouSou.
Espresso quality aside, it's still confusing when you go up to pay the bill. You can't stand in front of the bar opposite the cash register because there are glasses hanging in front of you. If you move slightly to the left, you will be uncomfortably close to the next table, and this may be interpreted as eavesdropping. The only option is around the end of the bar, the only thoroughfare between the behind-the-bar area and the rest of the restaurant. This area is frequented by staff. You'll feel like you are in the way. Unfortunately they leave no other option. Odd. Almost as odd as the fact that their business card is now a sticker. Just in case you want to stick the phone number somewhere.

Strong Flat White, Sousou, Fitzroy

We've all heard about what happens when there are too many cooks. But what about too many waiters? As far as I can see it just results in a lot of people in white shirts standing around not knowing quite what to do.
Out of all the coffees I've had from Madame Sousou, this has been the most satisfying. I thought this place was going downhill about a year ago, but I think this is a sign that they still know what they're doing. The fig & walnut french toast is still killer too. But as usual as soon as I saw somebody else eating the corn cakes, I wished I'd ordered that instead.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Latte, home

Yep, that breakfast sure was huge. All I've eaten since then is that large-ish cookie and ludicrously small apple on the plane, and I'm only really starting to get hungry now. Actually I'm not really that hungry, I just feel like I should eat something. I could do with a coffee though.
On the subject of the cookie: why is there so much packaging per passenger just for one freakin' cookie? It comes wrapped in plastic. They also give you the place mat, which contains a serviette and cutlery, wrapped again in paper. That seems like a lot of crap that's just going to get thrown out. The purpose of the place mat seems to be catching crumbs and acting as a rubbish bag at the end. I've never seen anybody use it so. And why does anybody need a knife and fork just for a cookie anyway? Come on Qantas.

Qantas, Sydney to Melbourne

The steward took our orders (a coffee and a bottle of water), headed towards the cart, and took a few more orders on the way, including two Cokes for Kish and Adam behind us. Bec, another row back and across the aisle, asked for a hot water. This must have confused the shit out of the steward, as he went off to the other end of the plane and disappeared for a few minutes. The cart kept moving, only increasing the amount of people the guy on our end hadn't served yet. He finally came back, totally forgetting about us, but finally filling the hot water order. I grimaced at Bec. The guy brought out one can of Coke for Kish, and asked Adam what he wanted. It was still a Coke.
He served someone else, and then came back to us.
"Is everything okay here?"
"We ordered a coffee and a bottle of water."
He went back to the cart, which had moved further down the aisle again. He returned with my coffee, and then asked Harry, "And for you?"
"A water."
This was starting to take a long time.
Finally, he asked Adam for his order again, and replied, "Oh, sorry, we're out of Coke."
But it was okay. It was our smoothest Qantas check-in ever. It still counts as a pretty stress-free flight.

Flat White, A Little on the Side, Sydney

Brilliant. First, the coffee.
Love it. I don't often talk about, much less photograph, the breakfast, but this deserves an honourable mention. The eggs benedict with bacon:
Trust me, it was even more exciting than my shitty camera phone photo can show. I wasn't even vaguely hungry until about 3.30PM.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Espresso, A Little on the Side, Sydney

Does anyone else think it's a little irresponsible naming the cafe joined to the Medina Chippendale thus? Are they referring to ordering a little avocado on the side, or to a little business trip adultery on the side?
Great cafe though, with great caffe. The beans are from Campos, who, I hear, I should check out some time while in Sydney.
They were actually closed when I ordered, but they still let me hang around and read about the Andrew O'Keefe fiasco.

Short Mac, Macchinetta, Melbourne Airport

New coffee at Melbourne Airport. Excellent. I'd really like to have a dependable regular here of similar standard to Quikfix in Sydney. If you check in with Virgin and take the escalator down, the red stovetop-shaped Macchinetta should be right there in front of you.
It's a great location. Where people are usually devoting a lot of energy to avoiding being signed up to American Express, there is now coffee. Now, on to the coffee itself.
The portafilter was sitting on the bench. Not attached to the machine. This is a bad sign. I often walk away in that situation. Depending on how long it had been sitting there, it would contribute some serious temperature issues and really screw things up. Perceptive, or just paranoid?
It turned out okay, if a bit, er, nonflavoursome. That could be a combination of the length of the shot (ie. longer than I thought necessary) and the portafilter thing.
Something tells me I won't be getting eight stamps on the loyalty card and claiming my free coffee. But the stamp is also shaped like a stovetop. Cute.
So it's not another Quikfix, but there's potential. I suspect that portafilter thing was a one-off. If I'm not flying to Sydney next time, or if I really can't get through the flight without an espresso, I'm sure I'll come here again.

Ristretto, home

The machine ran out of water halfway into the shot and I didn't have time to fill up and start over.
So I guess you could call that a ristretto.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ristretto, Brunetti, City

One of the few times where Pushka's late hours could have been useful, and I reckon I missed them by about ten minutes. That's okay, Brunetti is a fluorescent-lit beacon of caffeinated justice in the night. And they're open slightly later.

Latte, Shelley and Elizabeth, Richmond

There sure are a lot of cafes springing up around Richmond. I figured these guys were worth a try, considering their short walking distance from the studio. If they proved to be a winner, that sorted out my coffee situation for rehearsals. NY Tomato has disappointed me in the past with waiting time and weak coffee and adding sugar I didn't ask for (it makes you wonder why I keep going there doesn't it). Victoria Lounge is good, but slightly too far a walk - longer than it takes the other guys to have a cigarette, so it's hard to step out for a coffee and almost any time. First Pour is just not walking distance. Shelley and Lizzy could solve all my problems.

"Small, medium or large?"
That put me off. Am I becoming more perceptive, or just paranoid?
It wasn't bad. A bit on the weak side, but pretty well done. Maybe not enough to inspire more visits, but still pretty good. The schnitzel (insert synonym for "toasted sandwich" here) was damn good. The breakfast menu looks pretty happening too.

3/4 Soy Latte, home

There was only a trickle (or two trickles, really) of milk in the carton. I was experiencing that curious combination of running late and feeling lazy that tells you there is no way you're going to run out to buy more milk. I poured what was left of the milk into the jug.
"Yeah, that'll be fine," I thought. "It won't be much, but it'll be enough for a short mac."
"Wrong," said the milk as it was blasted to smithereens by the steam wand, the gag-inducing stench of too-hot milk filling the kitchen.
"Shithouse," I added, agreeing with the milk.
Who was that?
"Don't ask me, I'm dead, " said the milk.
It sounded muffled.
It was coming from the fridge. I cautiously knocked.
"Who's in there?"
I opened the fridge.
"Thanks. You should be able to understand me now."
"Bon Soy! I forgot about you."
"You cowdrinkers often do. You should always remember I'm in here. I make a tasty latte, you know."
"Well, it's worth a try. Thanks, Bon Soy."
"To Soy and Beyond!"
And with that, he poured into the milk jug. The rest is history. My first successful soy latte. It was damn good. It was strong enough that you couldn't really taste that carob bud sheen that often accompanies soy milk.
Thanks, Bon. Soy to the rescue.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Espresso, Victoria Lounge, Richmond

I still haven't gotten around to checking out any of the other coffee places around Richmond that I've heard so much about. Soon. Vic Lounge is still pretty dependable for a shorty, though, and required after a visit to Ha Long Bay for lunch. It's times like this that I think humans shouldn't eat that much food in the middle of the day. But that's why we have coffee, I guess.

Short Black, Brother Baba Budan, City

I forgot to Mythbust this nomenclature debacle that's going on here: I should have ordered a "short black" to see whether they deliver it to the table as an "espresso" or a "short black". Ah, I guess I'll have to come back here again.
That's a given, though.

Flat White, Brother Baba Budan, City

Don't you hate it when you hear something flipping amazing on community radio, and then the phone rings and you answer it, and then when they finally backannounce the track you're not paying attention because you're still on the phone, and you never find out what it was.
But then you get on the PBS website and find which show was on at that time, and check out the page for that show to find what the song was. Many of the shows have playlist history online.
But this one doesn't. So you might never find out who that sax player was who sounded like he was jamming with three cats walking around on an organ.
But then you realise you know the guy who runs the show that played the song in question. He works at the video shop around the corner. You decide to ask next time you're there.
Finally, you realise there is an easier way. Even easier than walking to the video shop. Just find the guy on Facebook and ask him.
As you read each sentence above, you may notice how the circumstances get more and more specific, and are no longer applicable to the "Don't you hate it when..." scenario I started off with. But the important thing is I found what the track was. It was Sun Ra. Off his 1978 album Disco 3000. It's one of the few things that are not yet on Youtube.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Espresso, Victoria Lounge, Richmond

1. First Pour
2. 7 Grams
3. Liar Liar
4. Atomica
5. Brother Baba Budan

That's the top five coffees list that was published, er, somewhere last week or the week before. First Pour and 7 Grams. Both in the greater Richmond area. Hmm. I've never checked out either of them. I had better get to work.
Actually, I tried to find First Pour today. I remembered glancing at the address last week and thinking, "Bond St. I'm sure I'll remember that name. Yeah, I'll find it."
That's hardly a foolproof address-remembering method. Today I found myself driving past more and more street names, each as familiar-sounding as the last. So I wound up at Victoria Lounge instead, but that is by no means a bad thing.
The guy next to me peered over at my short black when it came out (in the news: Brother Baba Budan were caught using the term "espresso" - I think it's now safe to say it can be used interchangeably with "short black") and seemed to look at it for longer than was necessary. I stared out of the corner of my eye at his pile of invoices and realised he was the Vittoria guy, coming to deliver some beans, or packets of sugar, or takeaway cups, or something. It's good to see he seems to care how the final product turns out. I'm sure he was impressed today. Crema of the Gods.

Latte, home

Seven o'clock on a Monday morning? Yes. Really.
I'm very glad I didn't have the last of my beans last night. It would have meant that
a) I would have probably had to stay up slightly later, and
b) I wouldn't have had any beans left this morning.
That would have been a crisis. Even less sleep with no coffee at the end of it.
In the news today, it turns out Melbourne's water storage has gone up by 0.2% - about a tenth of what I said it would be yesterday. According to my calculations, that means it's going to require precipitation of BIBLICAL proportions to get us back in the zone.
Luckily, it's a different story in our backyard. The catchment area received heavy rainfall over the weekend, and has kicked the capacity of the watering can back up to 100%. The venus flytrap is looking pretty healthy too; it's even getting that red tinge inside the traps. It just may catch some flies yet.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Latte, home

Well, it looks like the rain has stopped. Hopefully not for the rest of summer. But it's good to be able to go outside and be sunshined on again.
Hmm. Not terribly profound today, is it? I'm almost out of beans too. That can only be detrimental to the profundity.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Latte, home

While we're on the subject of Sopranos and video games, I can't help but notice that Furio says, "Let's a-go," quite a lot in season four. Every time it happens, I feel like I'm about to play Mario Kart or something.

Latte, home

The milk was a bit lacklustre. It looked like something you'd get served out of a machine at a servo in Germany. But it tasted a lot better, so I was happy. I didn't actually take the coffee machine on holidays with me. I won't bother posting entries for the last four days, they'll look mostly like this:
  • Aeropress
  • Aeropress
  • Aeropress
  • Aeropress
Etc. But let's get back to the reason for this post. World of Warcraft. I received a "Come Back to Azeroth" email a few weeks ago, which I thought was pretty funny, but made me shudder a little. It reminded me that, yes, I was a bit hooked on World of Warcraft for a few weeks back there in late 2006. I soon realised that the amount of playing time required to get anywhere was far more time than I wanted to spend, so I cancelled my account. So when I was invited back, I laughed it off. Little did I know, WoW's marketing division had another weapon concealed up their Gladiator's Dragonhide sleeves.

Genius. If anything has a chance of "pulling me back in", it's that ad.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Espresso, Midali, St Kilda East

Before I left the area, I just had to try Midali. The place just looks so red and Italian and inviting. The blown-up black and white photo of a vaguely Italian-looking girl usually indicates that you are in the vicinity of quality espresso, too. I feel such a traitor: this place is directly across the road from Batch. But I figured I had to try it once.
It's very good. I'm not sure what all that spluttery stuff indicates. I don't see that often. But it tasted right on the money.
Okay, I'm off on holidays until Friday. I'm taking the coffee machine with me. I'm not sure if that is obsessive, or just using initiative.

Latte, La Cafe on Nelson, St Kilda East

Las Chicas really picked the wrong day to close the kitchen and the courtyard for renovation. At lunchtime, if there's no kitchen or courtyard, I've pretty much got no reason to go to Chicas. The food and the sunshine is why I love it. The coffee is quite good, but there's a lot of places in this area that are just as good and still serving food outside. La Cafe is one of those.
Despite the bewildering ordering procedure (he took our orders, came back a few minutes later to commit them to memory again, then returned after another five minutes with a pen and pad to write them down just in case he forgot them again) the coffee was damn good. I also had the good camera with me today. Enjoy.
Unfortunately I was hanging out with a few people who haven't seen me take a photo of coffee when it comes out. So I had to explain that whole thing.
"I write a blog. I post every time I drink coffee."
I also explained how I lost six points off my driver's license in a game of paper scissors rock. Here's the thought for the day:
"Double demerit points over Easter? That's not very Easter. I thought Jesus lost all his demerit points for us!"

Halftte, home

Tesla coil guitar amp. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Espresso, home

I think I've gotten even better at procrastinating since high school. When I really should be working on something important, I do an amazing job of finding something else to do. Let's face it, we had TVs and the internet and video games back then. Sure they weren't digital TV or broadband or Wii, but they were still there to waste time on. Things haven't changed much there. But I think social networking and YouTube and fast mobile internet would have to be the main culprits, along with my personal favourite: the trifecta of using your phone to post something you found on YouTube onto someone's Facebook wall. You can't get much more timewasty than that.

Flat White, Tre Bicchieri

Soy confuses me a bit. How can the same thing be made into soy sauce and soy milk? Furthermore, why does Bonsoy cost so much more than the other brands? It's pretty close to $5.00 for a liter. It tastes slightly better, it costs twice as much. I'm not a huge soy drinker, though. I'm sure there's good reasons. And it's not as though cost is the only factor here. I'd have a hard time trying to explain why I am okay spending $3 or more on a 250ml glass bottle of Coke when I can get 2L in a plastic bottle for a bit over a dollar.

Latte, home

Surely it's high time somebody did a rad cover of this:

Unfortunately, if I did a cover of this, it wouldn't have a saxophone. You might think, "What is the point if that sax line isn't in it?" I think most things with a single saxophone can be improved by either removing or adding a saxophone.
Well, it turns out somebody kind of has done a cover of Infinity. Guru Josh has done a cover of his own song. Whatever you do, don't look up "Infinity 2008" on YouTube. Lyrics alert. It's not even worth it for a laugh.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Espresso, home

The weather isn't quite as inspiring as yesterday. It's a good day to sit inside and try to make your synthesiser sound like a broken Nintendo, while keeping an eye on the window for when the sun comes back out.

Halftte, home

Okay, survey number one has been up for a while now, I guess it's time to close shop. Let's wind back the clock a bit. I decided to create that survey because I wasn't satisfied with the statistics of my own coffee drinking. Surely other people's coffee drinking habits would justify more phony pie charts? Surely.

Unfortunately, that survey generated almost no usable data, mainly because none of the questions actually involved numbers. All I can really hope to find is a correlation between people owning many coffee machines, and drinking coffee often. Oh, er, there is no correlation there. Some people live in a house with coffee machines, but never drink it. There goes that theory.

But I did get some funny answers. Interestingly, a few people have had their best and worst coffee ever from the same place. Some people's worst coffee location is where others have had their best. The best "best coffee" I heard of has to be the one where the guy made a short black, then tipped it out because he thought it wasn't good enough, and made another one. The worst-sounding "worst coffee" would have to be this:

"hungover making an instant coffee in a glass half full of PassionPop"

Eurgh. Most of the worst coffee answers involved either instant (Blend 43 seems to be common) or the machine not being cleaned. Double eurgh.

This answer sums up everything we're fighting against:

"...very mediocre attempts by people who are only qualified to spoon instant out of a jar suddenly jumping on the coffee bandwagon 3 or 4 years ago, buying a fancy machine and assuming that as long as you get some sort of ground stuff to turn into some sort of brown sludgy stuff, wave the wand in the milk to create really hot frothy stuff, and combine in the one cup, people will thank you for a high quality beverage."

Tell it. Look out for Survey #2, coming your way, er, possibly this afternoon.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Short Mac, home

It's a beautiful day out there today. The first day this year that not only the calendar, but the weather also, indicated that it is in fact summer. Hot sun. A nice day to sit outside and listen to Angus and Julia Stone.

"They all would have been killed in the Sound of Music."
True... I know a lot of people out there had parents who pressed stop before the Nazis came into it though. Is it more ignorant to live a life never knowing that there was a war going on, or to believe that nuns can outsmart Nazis?
I'm on the House Mix from Romeo's. Strong; nutty; thought-provoking; just the way I like them. Let's hope the rest of these 250 grams provoke more thoughts like these.

P.S Speaking of House Mix, can anyone remember that late 90s track that goes "down down down, down down da-down, down down down, down down da-down.." etc? I think it's in F. The vocals and the bassline do the same thing. Then it does a descending thing from the V chord down diatonically, "down down down down", at the end of the verse. I'm sure it's there in whatever MP3s I downloaded towards the end of high school.

Espresso, Romeos, North Balwyn

Number two. Very nice. I'll have to grab some beans too.
But there's no way I'm doing three coffees in one sitting again... I think I learned my lesson on Monday with that.

Latte, Romeo's, North Balwyn

The cops should have a drug testing bus at the start of the Eastern Freeway to make sure I have enough caffeine in my system before I try to drive to Balwyn at this time of day. By the time I arrived, I was pretty desperate for a coffee.
"What's been going on man?"
"I wouldn't have a clue, I haven't had any coffee yet..."
Romeo serves up the goods once again. Jumps ordered a strongy, but I think my regular one looked badass enough.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Espresso, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

I still haven't bought any beans yet.If you sit outside that bakery on Lygon St on the corner of Fenwick and look out over the cemetery, it's not much of a leap of the imagination to think that the bit you can see of the grandstand at Princes Park is actually a giant mechanical spider that's just burrowed out of the ground and is about to wreak some havoc all the way down Royal Parade. I'd post a photo of it, but my phone's camera is nonsensical: if you zoom in and take a photo, the resulting image will be smaller than if you hadn't zoomed. That's not zooming. That's cropping. The only way for me to zoom in on the subject would be to run across the road, jump the fence, and hurdle a few hundred graves in the cemetery until the spider/grandstand is big enough to see in detail. But it probably wouldn't look like a spider anymore. I'll take a real camera over there some time.

Flat White, Sweet Source, Carlton North

I was so impressed with this place yesterday, I had to come back first thing in the morning. Also, I still don't have any more beans yet.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Espresso, Corner Hotel, Richmond

I most certainly ordered this one as a "short black".
Nope, I couldn't get the camera out before I'd already downed the whole thing. I'm starting to realise that some of the other millions of chemicals in coffee that aren't caffeine, that we don't know about but I'm probably still addicted to, are possibly lost in the instant coffee granule granulating process. As a result, if I have a few cups of instant in lieu of espressi (I made that word up a few posts ago, and I'm sticking to it), I'll start getting withdrawal symptoms. That's why I'm drinking coffee at the Corner. I'm getting desperate. The Corner's coffee still gets two thumbs up though.

Flat White, Sweet Source, Carlton North

I've been meaning to check this place out for a while, but seem to only walk past when they're shut. Not today, though. The place looks pretty cakey, and there's an elaborate gingerbread, er, diorama (I guess) in the front window. They sell jam. There are various enamel sieves sitting around on shelves. One would assume that cakes are the focus here. But it turns out the coffee is also treated with the respect it deserves. As the barista squiggled the milk into the creme-brulee-looking espresso, I thought, "I've experienced the two extremes in one day: the cup of a carpenter that this guy is about to hand me, and badly-stirred-for-ten-seconds instant coffee gone wrong." We thank the god of coffee for what we are about to receive.
This place could become a regular fixture on my coffee migration map.

Instant Coffee Stirring Time Mythbust Taste Test

Wow, that's quite the long-winded title. I mentioned in my post on Sunday morning that it would be good to test if stirring time actually does make a difference with instant coffee. I figured today was a good time to do it, considering I am out of beans, too lazy to go buy some, and desperately in need of coffee: I have no problem drinking three cups in a row in the name of science. So here goes:

Two cups. One scoop each. I pour water into the first one, set the count-down timer on my phone for ten minutes, and start stirring. After two minutes I can't take it any more, and decide that two minutes has to be long enough. I pour water into the second cup, and the stirring parameters are "keep going until it looks like everything has dissolved." This takes about ten seconds.
So, here it is: two minutes versus ten seconds. I tried both black first, then added a bit of milk and tried them both again. I gotta say, while they both had that unmistakable instant sheen, the two minutes cup tasted a LOT more like coffee. I'm not sure if further stirring could have increased this much more; there has to be a point where you've stirred in whatever can be stirred in.
Just for good measure, I tried another method: put the scoop of coffee in, pour in just enough milk to cover the granules, add enough hot water so it's hot (there should still be less than an inch of liquid in there) and start stirring. When you're satisfied with the stirring, water it down with some more hot water, stir a bit more, and start drinking.
It was pretty clear that this was much better again. It looks like the less liquid you're stirring, the more effect it has. Having the milk in there at the start sure made a difference too.
Next time I run out of beans we'll have a look at how much liquid is not enough, try to dissolve two scoops of coffee into a teaspoon of water, and taste the results. I never thought instant coffee could be so much fun.

P.S In case you got really bored reading that entry, consider this: in the title of the first draft of this entry I accidentally wrote "Taste Teste" instead of "Taste Test". Heheh...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Espresso, home

Well that's the last of the Mr Miles blend from BBB. Damn, I knew I should have bought some more on Monday. Or maybe it's even worth getting more than 250g next time? Of course it is; I'll drink it; who am I kidding?
The big news today is for second hand music gear obsessives on the northside of Melbourne who are also nerdy enough to read so many blogs that they use an RSS reader to keep track of them. The Music Swop Shop now has an RSS feed of the new items section on their website. If somebody goes in and decides to sell, say, their Linndrum on consignment, then it will get listed on the site as soon as it hits the counter, and Google Reader will tell me about it straight away. I can drive there in about four minutes. This could be the worst thing that happened to my bank balance since eBay.
Woah, better go to the gig. Hodge was setting up lights in there for about three hours. It's fun when a lighting guy has been hallucinating every time he hears the album, and calls up and says he's got some ideas and wants to come down and do the show. When I walked in, it seemed like the whole stage was swathed in a lurid green mist, with occasional strobe spasms. And those spinny siren beacon things were everywhere. Very BBC.

Latte, Small Block, East Brunswick

There's a bunch of places I wanted to check out while on the eastside (er, of Brunswick, that is) but I was too late. Either they're not happening on Tuesdays or they stop happening quite early in the day. Luckily, Small Block is always happening. Well, it happens at least until 5pm anyway.

Halftte, home

Yes, I had four coffees yesterday, three of which were nearly within one hour. But you know all of this already, unless of course you're reading down the page, in which case you won't have reached yesterday's entries yet. I'd better keep the caffeine count up, unless I want to find out the hard way what narcolepsy is like...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Espresso, Liaison, City

So that's three espressi in slightly over an hour. Not bad. This one looked kinda long in the scheme of things, but still pretty good.

Espresso, Brother Baba Budan, City

My argument is that you can't order a short black in Italy. But then again, you probably can't order a caffe latte, and most certainly not a latte, in Italy, but nobody has a problem with that. So by that logic, short black is acceptable.

Actually, upon consumption of further espresso, I think the staff at BBB may shy away from using the word espresso because technically all espresso-based drinks are espresso, as opposed to the Clover. Oh sorry, I got so hooked on the italics that I forgot that Clover doesn't need them. They're pretty proud of the Clover here. The guy opened it up, stirred it with some sort of Cloverwhisk, it looked pretty serious. The word on the street is that coffee made in the Clover can give you some flavours that the espresso won't. May have to give it a go some time.

Espresso, Brother Baba Budan, City

"Just the shorty? $2.50."

Here at BBB they seem reluctant to use the word espresso. I'm not sure why. Maybe they think it's a bit pretentious. Or perhaps it just looks pretentious because I wrote it in italics.

"I'll have a pot of Carlton Draught, thanks."

See? Italics can make anything look pretentious.

"Pretentious? Moi?"

Sorry, I guess I just can't pass up an opportunity to use the word's only two-word joke. I'm still on the hunt for the world's first one-word joke...

Latte, home

Did anyone else watch this last night?