Friday, October 30, 2009

1500th post!

1500. The big one-five-oh-oh. That's a whole lot of coffee. It's also a whole lot of writing either about, or not about, said coffee. I started this blog for a weird reason (a strong latte being served in a larger vessel than a regular latte, from what I remember), but what I really liked after I started was that it forced me to write every day. Writing, when there's no pressure to do so, is something I find it hard to make time for. So the write-something-for-every-coffee strategy was a pretty simple way to force myself to put pen to paper. "Finger to key" just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? Anyway. Some issues came up with this recently:
  1. Pissing off café owners. I figured it was only a matter of time. I dealt with this problem about fifty posts ago, by deciding not to give bad reviews. To avoid looking like I was only giving good reviews, I stopped writing them too.
  2. I changed the outcome by measuring it. Looking at the tags could be a good way of analysing my coffee consumption habits, if it weren't for the times where I think, "Nah, I can't go there again, I've blogged them ten times already."
  3. Catching up. It's not fun. The time it takes to write about a cup of coffee is usually much longer than it takes to make and/or drink one. The drinking and writing seldom happen at the same time. The writing tends to want to take up spare time that I just don't have every day. This means I have to sit down every few days and catch up on maybe nine or ten coffees, which involves answering the question, "Oh crap, what did I do on Tuesday morning again?"
  4. Ideas. And running out of them.
So this all points towards posting less often. And yes, that kind of goes against the "I blog about every coffee I drink" idea, which is what this blog is all about. But I'm going to go for quality over quantity for a while. I'd much rather write one or two good posts in a week than three okay-ish ones and a dozen YouTube embeds. But this is all extraordinarily bad timing: I've got a better camera now.

Oh. Actually, it looks about the same at that size doesn't it? Make sure you click on it to see how in-focus it is.

Anyway, consider me on part-time posting duty. It should get interesting in about two weeks. I'll be in Vancouver. I'll freeze my tits off, but some of the coffee was spectacular, from what I remember from last time I was there.

(I'm also going to Whistler, which is where I've had the most blogworthy stupidly-served coffee ever. That should be, er, interesting to blog about too.)

Latte, Mart 130, Albert Park

Three tips for finding this place via tram:
  1. It's at stop 130. Hence the name.
  2. The stop is called Middle Park. Though technically it's in Albert Park. Confusing.
  3. If you forget the name and number of the stop, just watch out the window until you see a huge café on the platform. But make sure you look out the right window!
I ended up on Fitzroy St because I only looked out the seaward-facing windows. And then I got rained on.

"Can I get you a coffee first?"
"Yes! Just a latte thanks."
"I haven't been making them for long, it might not be very good..."
"Okay. Do I still have to pay for it?"
A frank warning deserves a frank question, I guess!
Of course, that warning is infinitely preferable to, "I've never made one before, the guy who usually does the coffee couldn't come in today, I'll see what happens." At least I know there's been some training.

Yes. Nothing wrong with that. It wasn't the most micro microfoam I've seen, but otherwise a pleasure to drink. And I almost got in three coffees before midday. That's very rare for me. The corncakes were absolutely spectacular, and it seems like the staff have fun here too. I mean, they were listening to Belle and Sebastian! Surely that's the mark of someone enjoying their job.

Okay, but maybe the guy in that video enjoyed his job slightly more.

Espresso, MSAC, Albert Park

MSAC stands for Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
It's in Melbourne. It's the only one in Melbourne. I think the M is extraneous. They should have just called it the SAC.
But I guess if any city can get away with too many letters in the acronym names of large buildings, it's Melbourne. We do, after all, have the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), a building whose name defies explanation. Is it really national? If so, why do we need to specify that it's in Victoria? How can it be the gallery of the whole country and just of one state at the same time?
All that aside, the MSAC café had an interesting notice that I should have taken a photo of. I can't remember it word for word, so a rough paraphrase will have to do:
"All our coffees are made with skinny milk. Please specify if you would prefer full-cream or soy."
That's a new one.

Aeropress, home

Well, it's pretty easy to get excited about this:

Director Tim Schafer (co-wrote Secret of Monkey Island, among other things) had this much to say about the idea behind Brütal Legend:
"I've always seen this overlap between medieval warfare and heavy metal. You see heavy metal singers and they'll have like a brace around their arm and they'll be singing about Orcs. So let's just make a world where that all happens."


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Flat White, Sweet Source, Carlton North

The sausage rolls here are $9.00. I assume they're amazing. One day I'm going to find out. Mark my words.

Aeropress, home

I spotted this one last night:

I hope the coffee is more consistent than the spelling.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Espresso, St Ali, South Melbourne

Some time between now and the last time I used the West Gate Bridge, they moved the lanes around. Coming over from Flinders St and Docklands and turning right onto the West Gate Fwy is a lot easier now that the lanes are labelled much earlier. But coming back to the city from the wesside is a bit confusing. I'm not sure if it's still a work in progress, but you need to plan REALLY far ahead if you want to get off at that Lorimer St/South Wharf exit. I felt like I was in the appropriate lane after following the signs, and then all of a sudden I noticed there was another lane to my left, whose cars were all peeling off to South Wharf while I kept going straight ahead. There wasn't much I could do other than get off at Kings Way, the end of which is a left-turn only situation. It's as though that whole segment of road has been redesigned by someone who wants a lot of traffic to be directed to South Melbourne. If you want to go north of the city, you still might accidentally go south first. That's what happened to me today. But as I did a U-turn on Kings Way (or is that "King's Way"(or "Kings' Way"?)?) I realised that the West Gate had spat me out pretty close to St Ali. Thank you, gods of traffic.

Email from 7-Eleven: Latte, home

I assume a "Hot Brazilian" is a hair-removal technique that involves pouring hot wax on something. Call me crazy, but I don't ever want to "wake up with" one of those.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Aeropress, home

Well, the dishwasher is gone. For at least a week. It will either get fixed, or replaced. Until then, we have somewhere else to keep the vacuum cleaner. I didn't discuss any of the issues of my previous post with the dishwasher guy. Mainly because I hadn't written them yet.

This could motivate me to go out for coffee a lot more than usual in the next week. At least cafés have dishwashers.

Latte, home

The dishwasher guy is going to be here between midday and 5pm.
Man, I wish I could give people time windows like that. It might make it annoying for everyone else, but it would really relieve the pressure of being late to things.
"Okay, I'll meet you somewhere in the city between one and three o'clock. See you there."
That just wouldn't work. So why do we put up with dishwasher repair guys doing the same? Don't they know in advance how many jobs they have, and roughly how long each one will take, and thus be able to offer maybe a thirty- or forty-minute window? I'd be happy with that. At least I would be able to leave the house.
But I guess occasionally they have a day where all the jobs are in the same suburb, each job takes less than ten minutes, and they can knock off from work seven hours early. That would be nice.

This leads to another question. How do people with jobs get anything done? I find this hard to understand. The post office is only open during business hours. You work during business hours. When exactly do you go to the post office to pick up that package that got delivered to your house three times last week while you were at work? And if you live nowhere near your work, that makes it even harder. But let's get back to the dishwasher: if it breaks down, and you work five days a week, what do you tell your boss?

"Sorry about the late notice, but I just got a call from my real estate agent, and it turns out I'll have to take the rest of the day off."
"The real estate agent?"
"The rest of the day?"
"It's 10.30 in the morning."
"I know. But a man is coming to look at the dishwasher."
"Your dishwasher at home?"
"Why can't they come on the weekend?"
"Because it will be the weekend."
"But why will that take all day?"
"There's a very small window in which he can come to the house today, and it is between midday and 5pm."
"It's only ten-th..."
"It takes an hour to get home. With traffic and waiting-for-the-next-train time, I'm still cutting it fine if I leave now. If he turns up before I get there, it might be weeks before I get another appointment, for which I'll need at least another six hours off work."
"Dishwasher-related work absences costs Australians $6 billion annually. Each cycle washes more of our economy straight down the drain. It may be a labour-saving device, but just think about what you could be saving."
"Boss, you might want to check your business card."
"Oh shit. We make dishwashers. Damn. Take the rest of the week off. Your job depends on it!"

Monday, October 26, 2009

Espresso, Foxy Brown, Northcote

Okay, I won't write too much about this place. I'll save that for next time I come here. Y'see, the espresso was nice and it came with a Tiny Teddy on the side and I love the tranquil (when there isn't a train coming past) surrounds and the outdoor couches and everything, but that was BEFORE I realised they have a two-page coffee menu. I'll dig a bit deeper next time I come here.

Flat White, Kent St, Fitzroy

We're talking about Them Crooked Vultures again. Yuri saw them at Austin City Limits a few weeks ago. He said they were rad, despite being at a festival where the Intel billboard over the stage was bigger than the stage itself.

Espresso, home

Mum just used all of the following words in one phone conversation:
  • wan
  • cordial (as an adjective)
  • swanning
We also discussed the lyrics to Bryan Adams's Summer of 69. Complete the blanks in the following lyrics:

Me and some guys from school
Had a band and we tried real hard
____ quit, ____ got married.
Should've known we'd never get far.

The first blank is pretty universally Jimmy.
But the second one is a bit harder to pin down.
Get on Google. You'll find Jody, Joey, Johnny, Julie...who really knows who got married?
After a few dozen listens, I can hear either Joey or Jody - that slight "d" sound could just be a bit of Bryan Adams's spittle hitting the microphone.
But would he have said "some guys from school" if it was "Jody"? Is that a common male name in whatever bit of Canada Bryan Adams is from?

Oh, that brings us to the fourth Jane-Austen-spec word from that phone conversation. Julie can also be misheard as...

Jimmy quit, duly got married.

Duly. Adverb. "As might be expected or predicted".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures: Espresso, home

Them Crooked Vultures definitely fall under the superband category:
  • Josh Homme (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age)
  • John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
  • Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana)
Wow. Wow. Wow. They've been doing a fair bit of touring (at least, for a band who hasn't released anything yet), and I hear they are coming to Australia. Here's some footage of them in the studio. It's like a trailer for an action movie, with the editing getting faster at the end until you just want to scream, "WHEN IS THE ALBUM COMING OUT ALREADY?!"

Latte, home

Here's some interesting cross-promotion. It's great to see Burger King combining everything that's wrong with American fast food with everything that's right with Japanese fads, but why is it all in the name of Windows?

Beware. I think what they're saying is if you install Windows 7, your computer will become as sluggish and bloated as you would feel after eating this burger.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Does Anybody Really Know What the Timing Is: Aeropress, home

Well, I just remembered that I was supposed to write about extreme haircuts in this post, rather than the one earlier today. That one was supposed to be about timing. I'll just write about it here; assume the title of this post is more along the lines of Does Anybody Really Know What the Timing Is: Latte, home.

Well, Wayne Coyne from Flaming Lips is programming Rage this morning. He promises to play music we've never heard before. That has a nice ring to it, but it's a weird thing to say when you follow it up with The Church and Split Enz. Especially when you're broadcasting to an Australian audience. But anyway, later on he played Rainbow Connection. LLL insisted that I not make any obtrusive coffee grinding/tamping/espressing noises until the song finished. I stared down at the empty cup, and the button that pumps water through the coffee into the empty cup, and the portafilter that was sitting on the bench ready to go, and at the thermostat light that had just gone out, and cursed Kermit the Frog for delaying this coffee and possibly wrecking the whole temperature scenario I had just planned. After all, some guy on the internet said I should wait EXACTLY thirty seconds after the light goes out! Damn you, Kermit!

Well, the song finished, I pulled the shot, and it was pre-tty good. Like how Larry David says it. Take that, internet!

Espresso, Brother Baba Budan, City

I left the house, planning only to go around the corner and come back (and so didn't bother bringing my phone), but ended up walking to the city and going to BBB.
So there's no photo of this one.
But I've just heard about another new place in South Melbourne called Dead Man Espresso. They use Seven Seeds coffee, and have a blog. That ticks enough boxes for me, I'd better add them to my increasingly-increasing-in-length must-visit-soon list.

Extreme Hair Part 2: Latte, home

Or, How to Get an Extreme Haircut.
  1. Get a haircut.
  2. Get up and leave before they're finished.
Hey, presto. Extreme hair.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Manitoba vs Manitoba: Aeropress, home

I walked past and thought, "Wow, that Caribou album really looks like Manitoba's first album."
Upon rifling through the Caribou section, "WOW, that other Caribou album really looks like Manitoba's SECOND album!"
I soon realised a trend was developing. "Er, actually, they have the same names and track listing too. Right. So when did Manitoba change his name to Caribou?"

Wikipedia stepped out of the shadows and said, "A few years ago! Around about the time he got threatened with legal action!"
I masked my surprise (at being ambushed by a website, in public no less) with more questions.
"By who?"
"Richard Manitoba."
"Who is that?"
"The current lead singer of the MC5."
"But Wikipedia, how do you know that for sure?"
"Oh, some people told me. That's as good as fact, as far as I'm concerned."
"But that's so retarded! Just because a guy in Canada is using your surname as his stage name, you shouldn't go around suing them! That's like John Smith suing The Smiths!"
"HEY! Stop quoting me without citing me as a reference!"
"Oh shit, sorry.1 Is that better?"
"That's more like it."
"Richard Manitoba is still a Dick though."
"I know. Nominative determinism at its finest, etc. But what can you do?"
"Er, I dunno, start a petition?"
"A petition to convince whom to do what, exactly?"
"To get the Province of Manitoba to sue Richard Manitoba for stealing its name?"
"Great idea. Do it!"
"Nah, it's much easier to just edit Wikipedia to say it already happened, then cite my own blog as a reference, thus creating an impenetrable citation loop that can only be broken by..."

That's when Wikipedia knocked me out cold. I guess I had it coming. As in most situations, I went home and got out the Aeropress.

1. Source: Wikipedia.

Espresso, Atomica, Fitzroy

I love these flat, wide La Marzocco espresso cups. Terrible photo. Delicious coffee, though.

Extreme Hair: Latte, home

I was going to compile a list of Things to Gimage* if You Want a Laugh, but the first one was funny enough:

In particular, this guy:

This one is good value too.

*I'm talking about Google Image Search. In my last post, I decided the word "gimage" was easier to throw around than "google-image-search". So my use of gimage has nothing to do with this.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Latte, Victoria Lounge, Richmond

This is my second latte from Vic Lounge today. To make up for there being no photos of either of the occasions, I Google-image-searched* victoria lounge richmond, and sure enough I found one of my own photos.

That one is pretty relevant though. I did have two today.

* It's a shame there's no easy-to-implement verb for that. I propose "gimage". E.g. "Stop gimaging yourself, you'll go blind!"

Latte, Victoria Lounge, Richmond

Well, it turns out they actually had a coffee machine at the shoot this morning. A real espresso machine. It had a pretty cool way of getting water too. You know those big bottles that people plug upside-down into water coolers? I'm sure there's a technical term for them, but I've never had a job that involved a water cooler. There you go folks, that's something to discuss around the water cooler tomorrow morning: "What is this thing we stand around called, anyway?"
Anyhow, this coffee machine had one of those upside down water bottles plugged in the top. Genius. It had a separate grinder too, Dymo-labelled with a chilling warning: "DO NOT ADJUST OR WE LOSE THE GRINDER."
Imagine that! One click of the dial, and ZAP. It's gone.

Espresso, home

I'm up frightfully early today. It's not often I have a gig this early. This one is pretty out of the ordinary though: miming double bass on a TV show. Not only are we miming to an early version of the track which will eventually be re-recorded, but the track doesn't seem to have double bass in it. So of course this didn't surprise me at all:
"I just noticed that the bass doesn't come in until the second verse. But do you want me to play in the first verse anyway?"
Well, that's TV I guess. If they wanted someone on double bass even if there wasn't one playing, then obviously they wouldn't mind if I was seen playing in a section where the bass isn't doing anything. Though the track did have some tubular bells. I wished somebody had mimed those. That would have been totally tubular.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Flat White, Auction Rooms, North Melbourne

They're cupping here today at the bar. I think one of the guys has a glob of coffee stuck to the end of his nose. It's always a danger, when you're smelling that much coffee.
Generally, I think I'm going to have to come back here a lot. The breakfast menu has so many good things on it.

Flat White, Auction Rooms, North Melbourne


Aeropress, home

I'm really getting into riding my bike again. Not necessarily for transport. I don't need to be on my way somewhere. It's more of an "I've got nothing to do for the next two hours, I might go see what Coburg Lake looks like" situation. It's outdoors, it's strenuous, it makes me want to buy and eat vegetables (possibly from a farmers' market) and I just may get slightly fitter by doing it. But shared path etiquette is really getting to me. The amount of passive aggressive fucksticks who hurl abuse at me as I pass is quite alarming. It is a shared footpath, and I like to think that not crashing into somebody or their dog is a given, rather than a courtesy. Here's the main two situations where I get in trouble:
  • If I pass without ringing my bell, I get yelled at for not ringing my bell. This usually takes the form of the person talking about me overly loudly to their friend, dog, toddler, or inanimate object if they don't have any of the above.
  • If they see me coming and get themselves and/or their kids and/or their dog(s) out of the way and I don't thank them, a sarcastic, "You're welcome!" usually follows.
Either of these, and more, can be easily retorted with a derisive ring of the bell.
"There's another one, not ringing their bloody bell!"
"Bring bring."
Ah, the bell-ring. So ambiguous. So final. There's no comeback for it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Treehugging Happens: Espresso, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

Something a little embarrassing happened yesterday while I was riding my bike along Merri Creek. I caught somebody doing something. They were doing it out in the open. They were not expecting to get caught. They thought nobody was watching. They were alone. That's right, if you've joined the dots correctly, you'll have guessed that when I came around the corner, I saw a girl hugging a tree. Really. I didn't realise people really did that. Sure, some of us go around calling hippies treehuggers, but I never thought that people actually did it. She saw me coming, looked a little embarrassed, started walking away from the tree, and gave me a bit of a scowl as if to say that I interrupted a beautiful moment between her and the tree, and I should have known better than to ride past. I didn't have my camera on me at the time, but I went back the next day. I'm pretty sure it was this one:
Just in case anyone wants to get their hug on after seeing that photo, it's on the Merri Creek trail somewhere between Rushall Station and Dight Falls, roughly where you can see the flats on Heidelberg Rd.

Flat White, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

Next time you're in the Carlton North area, check out a shop called Belki. It's a handful of doors up from Tre Bicchieri. Anyway, it's worth a look because of the window. It looks like someone has traced a circle into it. You know, like in Tom and Jerry cartoons, when someone wants to break in and they just draw a circle with a penknife a few times? That's what this window looks like. All it needs is a good sturdy Acme™ Suction Cup and that handbag's as good as stolen. It does make me wonder what spooked them though. They got this far. The circle was completed, all they needed was a few more laps. Unless, of course, those cartoons were exaggerating.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Espresso, Brunetti, Carlton

I just noticed today that brunetti challenge is the most popular search term for users finding this blog via Google. Wow! I'm surprised that, based on that, more people aren't sending their times in! However, I'm not surprised at all that less people want to get a stopwatch involved with what should be a pleasurable experience. But still, I figured I was well overdue for another trial. Today's time was 4 minutes 10 seconds. The woman in front of me with the two kids was ordering a hell of a lot of stuff, which slowed me down, though it was amusing to see the look on the face of the daughter who had just realised she was slightly too tall to stand under the lip of the counter.
"Oh no. I used to be able to stand here. For a while I could stand up straight and my head would quite comfortably reach the counter. But now I have to duck slightly. What's happening?"
But luckily for me, the second till opened for business and I scooted across and ordered. I was order number 1. That's very rare. That must happen, oh, once per till per day I guess.

Drinking vs Tasting: Latte, home

Some helpful material for the caffenoob in all of us:
Jim Seven's article on developing your palate.
And this video (that Jim Seven recommends) on tasting vs drinking:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Espresso, Marios, Fitzroy

Oops. I forgot about this one.

I remember it came out pretty damn quickly. Maybe I should bring the stopwatch to Mario's next time.

Latte, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

This post has nothing to do with Tre Bicchieri.
But honestly, I've been there a lot. Their coffee is great. It almost always is. I'm sort of running out of things to say about them. But luckily, something else takes precedence today.
New Super Mario Bros Wii!

Wow. Four-player simultaneous side-scrolling radness! It's out November 14.

"Sax Solo": Latte, home

Flat White, home

Dr J.Mo also bought us some cups from Ismail in Tunbridge Wells, which Dr J.Mo has mentioned on this blog a few times.
"Have you seen their website recently?"
"No, why?"
"They've linked to your posts about them on the coffee blog."
"No way!"
"Yes way! And also, remember your post about how they are looking for Australian baristas?"
"Ryan, stop hyperlinking mid-conversation."
"Oh, sorry. I just wanted to make sure that when I recount this conversation on the blog later, people will know which post I'm talking about."
"So that's why I did those hand-actions."
"You mean "these" ones?"
"No, that's a quotation mark. I mean more like this."
"What did that one link to?"
"You'll have to find out later on when you read this again."
"Anyway, remember that post?"
"About Ismail looking for Australian baristas?"
"You wouldn't believe how many people have googled "barista tunbridge wells" to find the blog."

I just checked. There were five people. That's still a lot, really.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Piccolo, home

Thanks to DrJMo for the coasters made from recycled circuit boards.

Before you ask: yes, the gold contacts have been scraped off.

CEO to zero: Latte, home

The cover of today's MyCareer section in The Age:

  1. That graph seems to plot a catastrophic career landslide to the bottom, rather than a meteoric rise to CEO. Unless of course we are supposed to read the graph from her point of view, in which case she is drawing it on a transparent whiteboard. Oh, that's commonly called a "window".
  2. Is anyone else as confused as I am by the cliché "meteoric rise"? Don't meteors commonly burn away to nothing as they plummet to the ground? That's not a "rise" in my book. Or this guy's book, for that matter.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Syphon, Auction Rooms, North Melbourne

This is my first syphon. Or vac pot, or siphon, depending on who you ask. It's also been called the "bong you can drink".

All the magic happened behind the bar, so I didn't get to see how/why it actually works. But luckily (and this totally contravenes all my Neo-Luddite anti-technology ranting of the last post) there's this magic thing called YouTube through which we can see things that we have not seen in real life. And so here's a Japanese syphon champion demonstrating how it all works:

The four-time winner of Best Coffee Brewing Method in the Mad Scientist Quarterly annual readers' poll, the syphon produces an extremely clean cup (or two cups, really) and uses a whole lot of physics to do it. CoffeeGeek have a pretty comprehensive guide here.

Latte, home

I'm starting to become a pretty boring person to follow on Twitter. Here's a sample of just some of the nuggets of solid gold wisdom I've been dispensing in 140-byte bites:

There are two reasons for this:
  1. I removed Twitter from my phone, and
  2. I removed the Twitter widget (or "Twidget") from my dashboard (on my Mac - I didn't have Twitter in my car, if that's what you were thinking).
These two were directly connected to the sense of relief I felt when I removed Facebook from my phone. These are the kind of things I decided I didn't want access to absolutely all the time. So it's put a cork in my tweet output. But I've got a feeling that's how it's going to stay. It's just another step towards the completion of the technologectomy phase of Operation Return to Normal Life.
A year ago I really thought being able to get on the internet in seconds no matter where you are was something to aspire to. And then I got the iPhone. And it was fun for a while. But I used to read books. I used to wait at the tram stop without filling that waiting time with social networking. I used to be able to say I had never used the phrase, "Yeah I know, I saw your news feed." in conversation. I used to actually need to ask people, "What have you been up to today?"

(You may note that I'm still blogging three times a day. I'm working on that. Any less than that requires drinking less coffee, or breaking/amending the rules of this blog. I'll get to that soon.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Short Macchiato, Macchinetta, Melbourne Airport

Caffe Nero are talking (maybe even seriously talking) about installing facial recognition systems in their cafes to remember repeat customers. They may not realise that it's much easier to hire staff that have facial recognition capabilities already built-in.
Macchinetta, for example, are keen to let you know that even though they don't recognise you, they probably will in the future.

I order and hand over my loyalty card.
"Ah, you've been here before."
"Yeah, quite a bit: that's my third card."
"Do you work here at the airport?"
"No, I just have to fly a lot."
"But I haven't served you before."
"No I don't think so."

Espresso, Jed's, Bondi

I marvel at the ability to multitask that some people have. This guy got my bill together, took my money, gave me change, and added my takeaway espresso to the front of the queue while making another two coffees. Wow. I often have trouble walking up stairs and tilting my head at the same time.

Nice breakfast too. I'm usually a sucker for anything involving potatoes, but often forget that I enjoy scrambled eggs in theory much more than how they often are in practice. Kish ordered wisely with the quesadillas though.

Latte, Jed's, Bondi

"Turn left and..."
That was the only part of the instructions I could remember for finding where everyone was going for breakfast. But Jed soon made himself known. Standing on the corner painted red with your name plastered all over you is a good way to stand out.

As you can see, Sydney more than made up for yesterday's effort with the weather. As a Melburnian my heart usually leaps whenever I fly to Sydney and it's a grey cloudy rainy day, as it usually makes a good case against people in Sydney saying their weather is always better. But it's usually an isolated event.

Nice work Jed. With a little help from Toby, and his Estate.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Espresso, La Piadina, Bondi

Brilliant. I left the hotel looking for coffee, fully expecting not to find any and resort to trying one of those V shots that I keep seeing in the impulse area of 7-Elevens. But there will be no V shots for me tonight. I happened to walk past La Piadina, and their machine was well and truly still going. It's nice when they leave the machine on this late for weirdos like me who are looking for coffee after dark.

That first photo was taken before I started drinking it, but as soon as I lifted the cup I knew a second photo was required to point out that the bit in the middle of the saucer was convex! You don't see that every day.

Strong Latte, Macchinetta, Melbourne Airport

Man. I've really gotta start using a better camera.

Ride to Work Day: Latte, home

I'd love to take part in Ride to Work Day (taking place either today or next June, depending on who you ask), but unfortunately I have
to take this to work:
Oh, and work is in Sydney today. The best I could do is ride to the airport, which is not impossibly if I give myself enough time, but is quite impossible when carrying that much stuff. And that luggage will probably prevent me from riding around Sydney too. I'll ride somewhere tomorrow when I get back. Probably not to work though. It usually involves carrying at least that much gear.
But I would have loved to be in the city this morning to see how 30,000 more bikes than usual were going to find somewhere to be locked up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Long Mac, Brother Baba Budan, City

Number two:


Long Mac, Brother Baba Budan, City

Having two of these in fairly quick succession probably wasn't a great idea. But I have missed that "Wooooo!!! COFFEEE!!!!" feeling. I was starting to think those days were over.

Welding Term of the Day: Latte, home

Complete penetration butt weld.

Really. Read about it here.

A CPBW also involves a "root face", a "throat" and occasionally a "double butt".

I can't wait to see what the sponsored ads are for this post.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Latte, home

Today's Calendar WTF of the Day is Victorian Fashions 2010.

Something tells me the content wouldn't be too different from the 2009, 2008, or even the 1908 editions.

Espresso, home

I'm out of milk. And soy milk. Damn. No latte for me.
And, before you ask, I'm all out of mare's milk too.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Latte, home

I'm really digging the John Mayer Trio set of John Mayer's Where the Light Is DVD. Pino Palladino on bass. Yeeeeah. Plug in some big speakers before watching this:

Espresso, Macchinetta, Melbourne Airport

This coffee was great, but a bad idea really on my behalf. After only 2.5 hours' sleep I got the 6.10am flight back to Melbourne, and could really have done with more sleep when I got home, but unfortunately needed at least one espresso in my system before I could drive home. And it kept me awake all day. Damn.

But something cool happened on the way to the carpark. We spotted another car trying to go back around the boom gate. It turns out their credit card was stuck in the machine, and the guy in the office recommended they drive out (yes, there is just enough room to drive around the slightly shorter boom gate when it is still down). They were having trouble working the angles, so Danny offered an alternative. He walked over in front of the gate to where the sensor is buried in the road, and dropped his cymbal bag on it. The machine thought a new car had driven in, and spat out the credit card. Amazing.
So if your card gets stuck, be on the lookout for a passing drummer.
I wouldn't recommend the cymbal technique for fare evasion though: there's about four security cameras pointing at the entrance.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Flat White, Tiger Tiger, Perth

Paint samples for table numbers. Nice.

Today's coffee is brought to you by Taubmans' Focal Point.
Yes, I agree, it's a bit of a strange name for a colour.

Strong Latte, Goose, Busselton

Matty got here about 20 minutes before me, and warned that his coffee was a bit on the weak side, and going for the extra shot might be a good move.

As even that photo will tell you, mine (foreground) looks a lot more coffee-ified than his (background). Strength aside, I feel like I've really gotta let the Coffee Pricing Watchdog off the leash for a moment here. It was $4.00 for a latte and 80 cents for an extra shot. That brings my beverage up to $4.80. Really? Is that what coffee costs now, or am I paying for the (quite spectacular) 270º ocean views? That coffee, my eggs benedict, a muffin-shaped bit of carrot cake, and Harry's muesli all came to $46.20. Yikes.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Espresso, Nano, Adelaide

Head down Ebenezer Place, past all the groovy purveyors of such 2009 staple fashion items as flannel shirts, Corey Haim-strength sunglasses, and those tight black low-crotch jeans that make it look like you have webbed legs, and you will find Nano located roughly across the road from the Belgian Beer Cafe. Surprisingly, the Belgian was empty. It was 10.00am, so the only thing that made its emptiness surprising was the number of dudes I saw downing cans in Rundle Mall on the way here. I'm not sure why. They were hunting in packs. One group (fresh out of high school I assume) were wearing matching t-shirts, listing their nicknames.
  • Stevo
  • Davo
  • Micko
  • Dildo
Dildo? There has to be a good story behind that one. What's his real name? Dilbert? Who knows. In stark contrast to the Belgian's emptiness, Nano seemed to be doing a pretty hopping breakfast trade. And the breakfast they were trading made me wish I'd not fallen for the free breakfast at the hotel. It's the kind of free that you're going to have to pay back double: in disappointment, and then in regret later on when you visit a place like Nano and wish you hadn't eaten. But I sure had room for coffee.

I realise I have shown the photo twice now. But just look at it. And I did have two while I was there anyway. At the counter. Kudos.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Espresso, Phat Coffee, Adelaide

I usually steer clear of anything that uses the word "phat" (it smacks of iSnack 2.0 to me), but this place was exactly on the way from the dumplings (and the giant baklava) back to the hotel.
They were about to close, and could only do take-away, so I had the espresso in a take-away cup.
I'd finished drinking it by the time Danny's flat white was ready, and when the guy handed the cup to Danny, I handed my empty cup back to him. The subtitles read:
"Ha! See! I DID finish it before you closed up shop, and without even sitting down! I could have had it in a real cup!"

(but yes, I do realise that not wanting to wash any more cups has more to do with it.)

QANTAS, Melbourne to Adelaide

This might be hard to believe, as people don't usually say this sort of thing about food on planes (much less food in economy class on planes), but the sandwich was spectacular.

Latte, home

I'm off to Adelaide today.
If you read this as often as I write it (or more) you'll probably know that because we're flying with QANTAS, I'll drink their coffee.
You might also know that if I was flying Virgin Blue I wouldn't drink their coffee, but I'd drop in at Macchinetta.
You may or may not know that to drop in at Macchinetta when flying QANTAS requires some serious spare time between check-in and boarding.
That's time I seldom have at the airport.
It's also time that I really didn't have today.
I left my phone in the car, so I had to run back to long-term after checking in.
Frightening stuff.
To complicate things more, the time I spent making this coffee at home prevented me from having time to get one at the airport.
If I hadn't made one at home, would I have left home early to leave time for more coffee?
Probably not.
This mind-numbingly-mind-numbing story will continue in the next chapter: QANTAS, Melbourne to Adelaide.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Espresso, Brooklyn Project, University of Melbourne

Tee hee.

This place has got a lot going for it. St Ali beans. The syphon (or the coffeebong, if you want to call it that -- haven't tried it yet). Dudes with steel string guitars playing bossa nova really loud through a Behringer practice amp. Yep, it has university written all over it. I'm glad the kids have so much good coffee on campus these days. University of Melbourne is faring a lot better than RMIT City campus as far as I can tell though.

Flat White, Briscola Espresso, Carlton

If you go to Briscola, take note of the fire door between the room with the counter and the room with the tables. Yikes. I wonder if they ever shut it? It's the biggest thing in there. It's hard to appreciate without seeing it, but I couldn't stand back far enough to take a photo of the whole thing. I did, however, take note of the Hugh Masekela poster. I wish I could have been there for that photo shoot.

"Okay Hugh, that's great."
"Look like you're really playing trumpet. Nice."
"Okay that's really convincing, try to look happier though."
"That's not quite there. Can you, erm, smile while still playing the trumpet?"


The fat lady hasn't even soundchecked: Aeropress, home

Do you ever look around the tram and realise how unlikely it is that anybody else in there is listening to Frampton Comes Alive right now?

In other news, this is way cool. Captain's logs from the voyages of Darwin, Bligh, Cook and over three hundred others are being digitised to provide more climate data for the 18th and 19th centuries. These logs were very meticulously done. Observing what was going on around the ship was the only way these guys could navigate, so of course they took it seriously. If the climate debate is sorely lacking anything at the moment, it is temperature data from more than 150 years ago.

I've been reading about this stuff for the last few days, and it's difficult to get a handle on. Generally, we have the side that says global warming is happening, humans are causing it, and humans can stop it from continuing. The other side is the sceptics who say the current warming trend is not caused by human activity. And there's nothing wrong with sceptics. They're asking questions that need to be asked. Nobody should just believe what they're told without doing some fact checking first. But with so many exaggerating psychos and shady motivations on both sides of the argument, it's hard to know who to listen to. Climate Debate Daily is the only site I've found so far that shows both side of the coin as they currently stand (if a coin can stand, that is). They're even divided into two columns. Make up your own mind, kids. Be wary trusting anyone whose funding may compromise their impartiality. Be wary trusting anyone who has to exaggerate or scaremonger to prove their point. Be wary trusting anyone who says the debate is over. As Yogi Berra, Rocky Balboa and Lenny Kravitz said: it ain't over 'til it's over. Anyone taking this issue seriously should at least be willing to listen. Slashdot commenter Das Auge put it pretty well:

"I'm not going to go so far as to say with 100% certainty that mankind isn't responsible for any of the warming. However, until you (and pro-global warming people like you) even acknowledge that the planet changes its temperate most of the time, I just can't take you seriously."

I guess I'm somewhere in the middle right now. I haven't been convinced that we are to blame for rising temperatures. But I still think using my car less is a pretty good idea.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Latte, DOC, Carlton

The parking inspectors don't care how fast and yellow your car is. You're still in a loading zone.
(Warning: this really sets a new standard in crapness of camera phone photos. I'm not sure how I got it to warp like that.)

The tomato, rocket and fior di latte piadina. Spectacular.
I really have to eat here more often.
Or, more than once, at least.

Clamps: Aeropress, home

I saw a car with wheel clamps today.

It really happens. They must have done something pretty bad. Parking for five weeks in a two hour spot, maybe?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Latte, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

I'm on a bus.

Cars may be a great way to get around, and you can leave whenever you want, but you always have to allow time for traffic and finding somewhere to park.
Trains only stop at stations, which are very far apart, and only run on tracks, which are also far apart, but they move very quickly and there is never any traffic.
Trams are a bit slower, stop more often, and often service routes that don't have a train line running through it.
Walking is really the ultimate if you want to leave whenever you want, travel for free, get some exercise, and park just about anywhere, although it's a lot slower, and you might get rained on.
Cycling is just like walking, but faster, and with more scope for buying gadgets.
Somewhere in the middle of all of these is the bus.
I always forget about the bus.
It goes places trains and trams don't, often has its own lane through which to avoid traffic, can stop often but doesn't have to, and plays Gold 104 really goddam loud.

That whole paragraph might seem kind of mental, but I only just realised today that there are three buses that go straight down Rathdowne and along Lonsdale. Tre Bicchieri to JB Hi-Fi in eleven minutes. Amazing. Try doing that on a tram.

On Reviews: Latte, home

I might be getting paranoid. But this scenario often plays out in my head:

WAITER puts flat white on table in front of RYAN.
RYAN: Thanks!
RYAN pulls out his iPhone, slides to unlock, opens, and aims it at the cup of coffee.
WAITER: Hey, you aren't Ryan by any chance are you?
RYAN: Yes!
WAITER pulls out a blunderbuss and shoots RYAN straight through the temple.

My blog is going to really seriously piss somebody off very soon. After the furore surrounding George Calombaris and his comments about bloggers, and the few anonymous angry comments I've received so far, I've had a big long think about this blog, why I started it, whether that's still relevant, why I still do it, why Berocca comes in packs of fifteen, what I want the blog to be in the future, and whether that should involve reviews, either good or bad. As my sister once said, "Just be consistent, and don't piss anyone off." I think she was talking about footnoting at the time, but the same philosophy can be applied to all areas in life. Popular cafes get googled a lot. That's where most of my search engine traffic comes from. Some customers will decide whether to go to a place or not based on what they find through googling. If they find my blog entry, based on my only experience at the venue, when I found the coffee disappointing, that customer might assume the place isn't worth visiting. The visit-once-and-expect-perfection process doesn't work in reality. A place might make amazing coffee, but I might get served a dud. It happens. Even Larry Bird at the free throw line is only right 88.6% of the time.
So I've decided my experience is kind of irrelevant if I'm only going there once. Which I will be, if I'm writing about every single cup.
(Unless, of course, there was something reeeeeally wrong with it that suggests there are some problems that need rectifying)
So why should I bother blogging about the not-quite-amazing coffee I just had?
The answer is, "You shouldn't, because what do you possibly have to gain from sharing that potentially erroneous information?"
The answer to that is, "Nothing. It's more damaging to them than it is gratifying for me. And stop answering my questions with questions."
"Only if you stop beginning sentences with 'and'."
So I can still talk about the huge painting of a bar code on the wall, and whether it still scans, or the logistics of seating four people at a three-legged table. But I'll leave the reviews to Melbourne Coffee Review which, as the title suggests, reviews coffee.
(though the title also suggests they review it in Melbourne, which is not always the case)

And as for the Berocca? It must be because there are fifteen syllables in the jingle.
  1. B
  2. B
  3. B
  4. B
  5. Be
  6. Roc
  7. Ca
  8. Gives
  9. You
  10. Back
  11. Your
  12. B
  13. B
  14. Bounce
  15. (plop)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Latte, home

Without "Royal" and "Hospital" bookending it, the word "Women's" looks just plain weird.
Is there a word for that? It works in conversation, there must be a legible way to write it.

QANTAS, Alice Springs to Melbourne

Often, when I leave one day blank on the blog, it's because I haven't gotten around to writing about that day's coffee yet, but I will eventually.
Yesterday was not one of those days.
That's right folks. I didn't have any coffee yesterday. As a matter of fact, it was more than 48 hours between this and my last cup.
I may have had a Red Bull and a can of Coke, but I don't think that counts.
It's the first time I've gone that long without one in, well, years.
Anyone who is used to two or three a day knows what this feels like.
It feels like ouch.
I'll never really know how much of it was a hangover and how much of it was coffee withdrawal.
That first cup of QANTAS coffee sure made me feel normal again though.

Filter, Red Hill Market

Warning: not Ryan. As the last post said Ryan is in Darwin, or possibly Alice Springs; he has not suddenly appeared on the Mornington Peninsula. Ryan asked me to research the coffee situation at Red Hill Market some time ago, but I haven't got around to posting about it until now.

For as long as I can remember we have drunk filter coffee at Red Hill Market because it is someone's sister's stall, and so far as filter coffee goes it is damn good. My research has shown me that there are two stalls that have espresso machines, but because we drink the filter coffee that someone's sister makes I can't comment on their respective quality.

But I can comment on this. While we were waiting for our filter coffees someone who was clearly not a local came up to the counter and ordered a long black and a latte. I gave him a look that I hoped conveyed "Can you see an espresso machine?" and someone's sister, obviously bored of repeating the same thing, said "We have filter coffee instead, is that OK?" The non-local said yes, but when presented with two filter coffees said, "I ordered a latte". Someone's sister, now more annoyed, said "The milk's there", pointing to the pour-your-own cartons of milk.

Now some people may not be happy with drinking a filter coffee, and that's fine, but surely people can open their eyes and note what sort of machinery a market stall in the middle of nowhere, next to a cricket oval, has.

Friday, October 2, 2009

QANTAS, Alice Springs to Darwin

I walked up to the back of the plane with my coffee cup, finishing it on the way. Not wanting to be the dude walking into the toilets with an empty cup, I tried to find where they put the rubbish in the galley. Nothing seemed immediately bin-like, so I asked the stewardess (if that's what they're called these days) where I should put my rubbish.
She indicated to the toilets and said, "You can stick it in the chute."
"Well, you can shove it up your arse!" is one of the witty comebacks I didn't come up with at the time.

QANTAS, Melbourne to Alice Springs

It took me a long time to figure out why "rocket" is listed twice.
Hint: the word "combo" is there for a similar reason.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Flat White, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

Okay I'm heading off to Darwin tomorrow. I'm considering taking the Aeropress with me. That's a first. But I'll probably have to take a grinder too. That takes up most of the suitcase. Hmm. Is it worth it? If I successfully order hot water on the plane and make an Aeropress and take photos of the process, it will definitely be worth it.
Oh, scrap that. We're flying QANTAS. No need for outside coffee there.
In my opinion.
Of all my opinions, I'm sure "QANTAS coffee rules!" is one shared by nobody else I know.