Thursday, August 12, 2010

The search is on...

...for a decent coffee in Perth...

Greenhouse - skim flat white

I started the search on a Friday at a popular coffee spot that came highly recommended, tiger tiger on Murray St. In terms of first impressions, it was going quite well.... until I met with the slow moving line. The ordering line was moving so slowly, and once I made it to the front there was some discussion about weather I would be able to use my keep cup. That sorted, I proceeded to order my usual, a small skim flat white, and handed over my $4 (yes, $4 for a small coffee in my own cup). While I was waiting I noticed that they only seemed to use 12oz cups -generally considered medium or large size coffee in Sydney. Unfortunately, it was the most bitter coffee I have ever had, and was quite possibly burnt as well. I am tempted to return (without the keep cup) and give it another chance, because I have heard such good reviews, but the memory of that horrible coffee is keeping me away for now.

Monday morning saw me running a bit late, so I went to work without my morning coffee. Luckily, the Engineering Manager invited me out for a coffee and a quick chat (he's also an east-coastite). We ducked (kind of) across the road, to Shots Espresso Bar, on Hay St. The first thing I noticed, was that they had 8oz cups! So, again, I ordered a small skim flat white, for $3.70 (in a takeaway cup today). It wasn't a bad coffee, but it wasn't a great coffee either. Definitely not as bitter as the tiger tiger coffee, but too milky for my taste, not enough coffee!

Tuesday's search saw me head in the opposite direction, away from work, to King St, where I was told I would find good coffee. I stopped in at Etro Bistro, the first place I passed. Again, only 12oz cups were available (why??), so a large skim flat white it was ($4.10), although I didn't mind, as I knew I had a long day ahead of me. Unfortunately, I didn't finish the coffee (FH Alphie will try to tell you this is a common occurrence, but it's not as bad as he makes out), because, again, it was unappealingly bitter - maybe that is why I am always asked if I would like sugar!

Wednesday saw a second venture down King St, to another recommendation, Velvet Espresso. While I was waiting for my coffee ($3.70 for a 8oz skim flat white), I was hoping that this would be the one. I really wanted to like this place. The barista was friendly, the venue small but charming, and although there was a considerable number of people who ordered before me, the service was quick (and friendly). First sip, and I thought 'woohoo! I've found it!', it definitely did not have that bitterness that has plagued my coffee so far. Second sip, and I realised, it suffered from that other coffee affliction, it was too milky, and yet again, I struggled to finish the cup.

On Thursday I had an early start for a flight to Kalgoorlie, and had coffee at the airport. And, it lived up to my expectations - airport coffee does not qualify for a review.

I had noticed the distinctive fa├žade of Greenhouse on St Georges Terrace on a number of my coffee travels, and by Friday I could resist no longer. While there was a bit of a line going on, it was moving quite quickly. I ordered my usual skim flat white, $3.50, and since there were a few other people waiting, I ducked into the nearby Woolies to grab some yoghurt, and returned just in time for my keepcup to reappear on the counter.

I started the new week with coffee from Ristretto in Central Arcade, and although I still had a few more places I wanted to try, I was fairly confident this was the one. This tiny hole in the wall, is a bit out of my way, but the service was great, the turnaround was quick and the barista liked my keepcup! But most importantly, the coffee was really good. Strong but not bitter, and just the right amount of milk. ($3.50 for 8oz.)

Tuesday saw FH Alphie and I have breakfast at No. 44 King St, and you can read my review here.

By Wednesday, I'm on a bit of a roll as there hasn't been a terrible coffee since Thursdays airport incident. I had noticed Zucca, on St Georges Terrace a couple of times, and FH Alphie also noticed it and thought I should give it a try. After ordering, $3.80 for a 8oz, I stepped back, ready to begin the wait. I was pleasantly surprised, despite being quite busy, the service was quick & friendly. My string of good luck continued, the Zucca coffee well rounded, not bitter, and just the right amount of milk.

Very early in the Perth coffee search, I was also taken out for coffee at Mini Espresso in the London Court, which at the time I thought was pretty average coffee (and I assumed that the large size was what had been ordered for me), but upon comparison I realised that was some of the better coffee in Perth.

The verdict
Ristretto and Greenhouse will probably become my regular haunts.
I can see Shots Espresso Bar and Mini Espresso becoming fall-back options, for those days when I can't be bothered to detour via St Georges Terrace.
No. 44 King St and Greenhouse are likely to become my CBD breakfast options.

-Alphie

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