No. 1

Confessions: In case you didn’t notice, I’m new to this. Jye and I were sitting down at café brunch date no. 24 or 25 and Jye said to me that we should do a blog. He had been talking about doing one himself since café no. 15 so he invited me along for the ride, therefore here we are. Let me do a quick introduction and then we can get on to the fun stuff, because when is brunch ever not fun. Are you getting old when brunch in the weekend is something you look forward to? Because I could brunch date the weekend away if my wallet would let me. I’m lucky I’ve found the perfect person who not only likes to come with me but whole-heartedly encourages it. It was a struggle when we lived in London and going out anywhere for food would cost half your pay check but I concur.

 A little bit about our backgrounds in hospitality and maybe why we have grown such snobbery towards a cheeky flat white.

Jye here – I got my first job as a barista when I was 15 at the Australian version of Starbucks, Gloria Jeans. Now let’s be honest, not the greatest establishment for coffee but I can never pass up on an ice chocolate and fielded experience in making coffee not only here at home but in New Zealand and the UK. Like most coffee novices I moved my way through the cycle of hot chocolates > mochas > flavoured lattes > and briefly being a pain in the ass in asking for a flavoured flat white before settling in on a regular flat white – now back to Kate.

 My first introduction into the coffee scene was when I was 19 and got my first job in a café, not as a barista but it showed me that was where I aimed to be. I would sip my way through long blacks and fancy filtered coffee in one of the most awesome coffee scenes around, Wellington NZ.

My next move to Sydney, Australia gave me the chance to fool my next employee into giving me a proper barista position with the basic skills I had. It worked and I’ve been learning and gaining more experience ever since. After working in the coffee industry in London, NZ and Sydney, I’m now comfortably settled as head barista in the Sydney CBD continuing to indulge in all opportunities for coffee snobbery.

 A Couple of Coffee Snobs hopes we can give you some good tips and heads up on where you too should brunch in Sydney with a dash of humour, a few stories and personality.

Thanks for dropping by!

Kate

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Artistry Coffee Craft Co.

Whilst we are in Crows Nest, why don’t we stay there and see what else the café mecca of the North Shore has to offer.

Next cab off the rank – only around the corner from Monte Alto we have Artistry Coffee Craft Co.

Based on Clarke St only a short walk off Willoughby Rd you will find this little gem, by saying little it is a very apt description of the venue with only limited spots to perch on. Most business I believe comes through the take away coffee avenue & by all means that is nothing to sell short of what they do with the food. For a small venue and tiny facility to cook, they do a bang up job!

The title does give away where they excel in, the barista (Steve) covers all great areas – passionate for both his business, customers & the coffee, whilst his skills behind the machine comes out in the great coffee! They use a single origin African blends from the Reformatory Coffee Lab and whilst it’s quite smooth it does produce a heap of flavour notes with a fruity and chocolate hint & the best part, no bitter after tastes. As of late we have been plugging social media threads and both their Facebook & Instagram showcase just how good their skills are behind the machine – so would highly recommend jumping on following the guys @artistrycoffeecraftco & to be frank their Australia Day post was a crack up!

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We haven’t touched on the world of keep cups through our blog as of yet, though it is a frequent conversation that Kate and I have taken up offline – while we can also take this up at another point and the environmental factors that come along with take out cups. I did want to touch on the selection the guys get in here – it’s massive! Ranging from the plastic cups, glass range, many different colours & limited time cups like Star Wars ranges.

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Now I feel like I am always recommending places, though if you are in the area and want a quick take away as well as a pastry to bite on – jump in to Artistry!

 

Venue – 7.5/10 (Very small if you are looking at dining in)

Coffee – 9/10

Food – 7/10

Service – 9/10

Jye

The Alchemist Espresso

Not every brunch date gets the highest praise but this shouldn’t deter you completely. We have been twice to The Alchemist, once by ourselves and again with friends and both experiences were different. Its short history is pretty awesome, not quite metals to gold, or mysterious to magical like its name might suggest but a 1920’s-style corner shop liquor store, still displaying the old VB sign, to a neighbourhood cafe – a more modern day changeover.

Its a few blocks from the hub of Miller St, Cammeray but this hasn’t stopped it from being a busy hideaway. Its an inviting local hangout for families, couples and coffee aficionados.

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The aesthetics are great. Rustic with exposed brickwork, caffeine-molecule artwork, restored furniture including an industrial-style communal table recycled from a boardroom table from Hornsby Hospital. The caffeine-molecule art is a nod to co-owner Jon Mencks previous career as a scientist which is also been brought into many other aspects of this cosy cafe, giving it a very strong theme. The staff are friendly and really help to bring this place together.

I definitely recommend The Alchemist but I think consistency might be whats lacking in bringing this place into our top ten. The menu is great, people rave about the coffee but on our first visit the food was lacking in presentation and a bit bland in taste, the staff not as efficient as they could be and the coffee wasn’t up to expectation. Then on our second visit, with the same menu, our food was excellent and coffees made to perfection, Gabriels Monte Carlo blend shining bright. I ordered chai which was a delicious collection of spices all brewed in a teapot with hot milk. There were aromas of cinnamon, cardamom and star anise. It was creamy, full bodied and had a real depth of flavour.

The ricotta fruit toast was beautifully deconstructed (I didn’t know this was possible) with all the fresh fruit, honey and ricotta working really well together.

So, all in all even though our first visit wasn’t fantastic our second try won me over. This place is homely, super friendly and on its way to becoming a staple place to brunch on the lower North Shore.

Venue: 8.5/10

Coffee: 7.5/10

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Kate

Monte Alto

This place holds something close to my heart because it was one of my first followers on Instagram, they probably don’t follow me anymore, I’ve gone too far off my first posts of coffee by now but they were definitely worth a follow back. With a fancy looking modern Australian menu, their own coffee beans and a cocktail and whiskey bar just down in Crows Nest, I mean come on I had to check it out.

I’m glad I knew what to look out for, location could be the death of these guys. Its on the wrong side of the busy Pacific Highway, the busy hub of Crows Nest is just across the road. For their sake and for the benefit of the public I hope this doesn’t happen. The service was friendly, the coffee was awesome (all single origin beans) and the food was delicious.

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The only thing lacking was a bit of atmosphere, the decor is well put together and efficient so maybe it was the lack of customers. It isn’t because of what this little cafe/ restaurant is producing but sometimes it is all about location, location, location.

I really recommend Monte Alto, check it out.

 

3/300 Pacific Highway, Crows Nest 2065.

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I’m going back to try the cocktails.

 

Venue: 7/10

Coffee: 8.5/10

Food: 8/10

Service 9/10

Kate

The Incinerator

Hey guys!

I realize its been awhile since my last post and that you’re most likely sick of hearing from Jye so I thought I should probably chime in.

The Incinerator had been on my must visit list for quite some time. Located in Willoughby, in a 1930’s incinerator with pretty good reviews had me interested plus it also hosts a small gallery and my aspiring artist side couldn’t resist.

The sun was out and beaming and even though the venue has plenty of seating for a perfect summer day it was all taken, so inside it was. We quickly realized that with such popularity in such a small, open space it means it can quite noisy, the decor and what they have done with the place is damn photo worthy though.

Service was a bit all over the place that day and when we eventually got our coffees, The grounds Roasters seasonal blend that they use is full bodied and chocolaty, the barista nailed it which stopped the lack-of-good-coffee grumps to set in.

To really help make a good brunch date even better was the food. Jye got his staple eggs bene while I got the beef brisket burger. Amazeballs. Seriously. We had to share our meals because Jye was getting food envy.

So all up The Incinerator is a super solid brunch supplier, they even have an extra coffee machine cart set up outside just for takeaway and snacks, what a baller business acumen. Then afterwards you can head downstairs and check out some local art, just a few of my favourite things in a piece of amazing heritage architecture. Sweet.

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Artist- Jane Guthleben

 

Venue: 8.5/10

Coffee: 9/10

Food: 8.5/10

Service: 8/10

Kate

Top 10 as it stands

We thought that we would give everyone a bit of an insight into how everything currently sits, we have been releasing our blogs regularly for a few months now – with that here is our Top 10 as it currently stands.

In at Number 10, our local boys – Maggio’s. 

463 Miller St, Cammeray 2062.

No food menu = no problems, in at 9Cassiopeia.

79 Lurline St, Katoomba 2780.

Cruising in fashionably late at 8Flower Child.

391 / 1 Anderson St, Westfield Shopping Centre – Chatswood 2067.

How fitting that slipping in at 7 is – Devon.

19 / 200 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo 2000.

Riding there way in at 6Bay Ten.

10 Middlemiss St, Lavendar Bay 2060.

A big contender but just a little short at 5 – Little Giant Roasters.

525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby 2068.

Getting hotter at – Celcius Coffee co.

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Kirribilli Wharf, Kirribilli 2060.

Doesn’t need any rescuing at 3 – Salvage

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5 Wilkes Ave, Artarmon 2064.

You wont get mixed feelings at 2 – Chimi Churi

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1/6 Help St, Chatswood 2067.

Not stuck between a rock and a hard place with number 1 – Anvil Cafe & Grocer

 

Anvil

54 Alexander St, Crows Nest 2065.

 

 

Salvage – Artarmon

I feel this venue is the most prime of any we have visited to be smashed for the morning commute coffee – a stones throw from Artarmon also makes it a very easy place to get to. Next up under the magnifying glass we have Salvage!

Staying all things venue, it’s an awesome set up and extremely gram worthy – one suggestion I would have for the masses is that the seating is essentially all outside, so if you have that perfect Sunny Sunday get yourself down there!

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The chain of impressions starts with the appearance, then comes the service and to be honest the guys blew it out of the park. From getting us a spot to sit, coffee being ordered quickly, great help and suggestions with the menu and finally making sure that we were comfortable and happy – hats off.

Like many places at the moment there is a cycle of great blends running through their machines, I have seen that Salvage have been sampling through Marvel St., Mecca, Grace & Taylor and most regularly Sample. Whilst the different blends will bring different notes, after tastes and feels to your mouth – the real skill lays behind the machine to the legends pulling shots and steaming milk. Our experience here was GREAT for our cuppa Joe and would highly recommend stopping in for a drop if you can.

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Now the pièce de résistance would be the delicious food that is served up, why am I speaking in French? Well I can sense a real French influence on the food that Salvage serves up, a small but versatile menu that included a number of gourmet toastie options Croque Madame being the choice of weapon.

An update from our last visit which was in the works when we were there, the guys also are now serving up some sweet sweet alcoholic beverages a few nights a week – so as previously touched on, what a way to add an extra string to your bow.

Venue – 8 / 10
Coffee – 9.5 / 10
Food – 8.5 / 10
Service – 9 / 10

Jye

Anvil Coffee Co. & Grocer

The story behind this cafe moves across the North Shore – from Kirribilli Wharf where Celsius & Co now resides, to a small set up in an industrial area within Artarmon to the current gem, based in Crows Nest – we bring you Anvil Coffee Co. & Grocer.

To most people looking for somewhere to brunch around the area this has been THE recommendation! The coffee is an excellent and smooth drop, the service has always been friendly, efficient and hits the mark – the venues have both had their quirks but clean and well laid out leading into the star of the show, THE FOOD!

 

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Not only is halloumi life but combined with chorizo, poached eggs, dukkah and more makes for an insanely delicious breakfast. Previous and more recent visits for breakfast have produced more colourful and delicious meals and I know that they’ll continue to be produced.

The menu is a relatively small though I would much prefer that to be the case as clearly what’s being served out for you is what they focus and specialise on and will be vibrant, fresh and flavorsome.

‘Sample’ coffee blend is what was being used here and is a smooth drop that didn’t leave any bitter notes (time and time again – as I would occasionally drop in from work) that has enjoyable flavor notes! * Now it either sounds like I know what I am talking about or becoming one of those standard hipsters that will start drinking funky milk flat whites shortly!

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Anvil has added an extra dimension to their business in grocer options providing alternative types of flower, polenta, chia seeds, different types of nuts, oils and different rice options – Kate & I have been speaking about different ways to bring in income as a cafe to create extra streams of income as to rely on only one model could really limit yourself, as we believe what they guys have put together is an awesome idea for the location they are in!

As we reveal the ratings below you will see these guys have clearly taken out top rank, but will they remain on the gold podium?

If you have a recommendation of places to try & want to share it with us – send us an email to acoupleofcoffeesnobs@gmail.com

 

Venue – 9.5 / 10

Coffee – 9 / 10

Food – 10 / 10 *TRUMPETS PLAY IN THE BACKGROUND*

Service – 9 / 10

 

 

 

Laneway Cafe – Cammeray

You may not have realised but we were living in Cammeray hence the abundance of cafes in the area. The eat out culture in the area saw places packed in the morning and quite bare at night, I have spoken about Maggios before and the popularity they have. Though up next, Maggios next door neighbours – we have Laneway Cafe.

If you are a sports wear buff, you’d know that people are either Nike or Adidas and I liken this analogy to Laneway and Maggios. Both work simultaneously and find huge success in the area!

Kate’s view is that these guys have the better coffee in the area and I would have argued that until ‘Brewtown’ moved into the area, but I’d give them a  hands down win on their Bacon & Egg roll also their Good Morning Burger! Absolute perfection for a hangover (not that we have ever done that – wink wink nudge nudge).

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Now there is one grievance that I do have, personally I am a bit of a germaphobe & to go all Peter Griffin – one thing that really grinds my gears is the way the waitstaff carry order pads down their pants. Now I understand if you are busy and need to carry orders out that it’s not convenient to be holding pens and pads but to stash them down your dacks is quite unhygienic!

Simple solution – Aprons. If that’s not quite on brand or what you want, then maybe turn to styles of a lad with a bumbag.

I know it’s small and probably not noticed by some, but it is one of those weird things that just irretate me.

Moving on! They do have a rotating specials board and menu, for instance – eggs benny only on the weekends. There is a good range for everyone on the menu and on a nice day it’s great to bask in the sun whilst enjoying a brunch hit.

Overall it’s a good venue though with how much competition there is around both Cammeray and the lower north shore – it wouldn’t be on my top ten to try.
Venue –  8/10

Coffee – 7.5/10

Food – 7/10

Service – 7.5/10

 

Jye

Chimi Churi

Being Instagram worthy is of big importance these days when choosing a new place to brunch and Chimi Churi is one high on this list. I may have fallen for this when deciding it should be our next visit.

This Latin-American inspired cafe has a delicious sounding menu. Piggy Mac Bowl; Triple cheese melt, pulled pork, chorizo and crispy bacon macaroni. French Toast filled with chocolate lychee ganache, strawberry gel, marshmallows, berries and Persian fairy floss. And of course, their all famous Black Benedict; Soft shell crab, poached eggs, squid ink hollandaise served on charcoal brioche bun topped with salmon fish roe.

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photo credit to thebrunchgirlblog “Black Benedict”

My choice ended up being Lick My Bacon. Red stripped croissant with thick cut bacon,  halloumi, and hash browns with a good drizzle of honey.

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Lick My Bacon

There is so much more! It was incredibly hard to choose from all these photogenic delights.

They also serve up the WHOLE range of different flavoured lattes. Taro, Red Velvet, Tumeric, Matcha along with milkshakes and frappes but the best option is the coffee. Melbourne roaster Zest is used with skill.

Its super easy to get there by public transport but its a little off the beaten track so keep your eyes open to not miss it when you go, which if your not already on your way then head there now. I highly recommend it.

Venue: 9/10

Coffee: 9/10

Food: 8.5/10

Service: 9/10

Kate

 

 

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