The Quest for Coffee

© M. Prince

© M. Prince

We used to live in Hobart (Tasmania). Now, Hobart is a great coffee city. There are lots of cafés and they take pride in their coffee which made life good for us as snobby coffee drinkers.  Then we moved to Darwin, a crap coffee city.  No good coffee anywhere.  There was one café, called Relish, on Cavenaugh Street, but the owner got jack of it and sold the business to someone else, unfortunately to a lady who ran a fish and chip shop before and had no idea, absolutely no idea, how to make a coffee.  This made us very sad, but at this point we knew that we were moving to Adelaide so we took comfort in the knowledge that good coffee would be ours again soon.

And then we moved here.  And much to our chagrin, we couldn’t find a good coffee anywhere!  “What the…?”, we said to each other.  It made no sense at all!  Why would a city like this, a city that prides itself on its food and drink  in a state that prides itself on its food and drink, have café after café producing awful coffee at $4 a pop?  Why do they boil the hell out of their milk?  Why to they not seem to clean their equipment?  Why do they not train their baristas properly, and why don’t these baristas take pride in their craft?  So the quest began.

What were we looking for?  In an espresso and its brothers, a deep dark brew with a thick smooth crema on the top.  In a latte and her sisters, a rich, warm brown colour (never that oh-so-pathetic grey you get everywhere in this town) with a smooth, fine milk froth on the top.   Both with a warm, deep, dark and round flavour.  Is this too much to ask?

We are a year into the quest, and only a couple of weeks ago did we find a place in our fair city with a good coffee.  Finally, we sighed.  But unfortunately, they aren’t open on Sunday, one of our prime café coffee days, being working people and all.  In this review, we’ll start with the bad, and then get to the good.  Please check back- we’ll add more good and bad as we experience them – the quest is not yet finished (actually, it won’t finish until we find a café down the street from our house with a good coffee, which will never happen as we live in a great, but very residential mansion-laden inner-city neighbourhood with a very convenient but awful corner shop.  Another thing I miss about Hobart, the gourmet corner shops – and if any neighbourhood could support one, it would be ours.  But this is another post, I suppose.)

Also, note that we are latte, double latte, short black, macchiato and ristretto drinkers.  If you are seeking a café that makes a good cappuccino or flat white, maybe it will be one of our bad ones.  We wouldn’t know.

The Bad:  First up, we tried several nondescript Italian cafés on the Parade in Norwood.  Nothing worth writing home about.  We tried the coffee at The Store in Melbourne Street.  No good – bitter and milk too hot.  It is a nice little café though – mismatched timber tables, funky mosaic tables outside, and the staff are friendly, so if you aren’t seeking a top brew, please feel free to visit.  Then we tried Wild Thyme, an organic café and grocery, also on Melbourne street.  It is great that they use organic ingredients and again it is a nice little café, but here the staff aren’t very friendly and the coffee is an insult to the ingredients they use.  Then we tried a few (Rundle St, Melbourne St, the Parade) different Cibos.  The coffee was okay – it was fairly inconsistent (it seems like the one on Grenfell Street was better than the others, but we haven’t really visited enough to be sure), but we really don’t like the ambiance so we don’t go back, unless in a pinch.  Just last week we tried Un Caffè Bar on O’Connell Street – yuck.  Sad grey latte.

The Okay: In the airport, where we find ourselves fairly regularly, we get our coffee at Cocolat.  The food selection is as limited as you would expect from a chocolate place but the coffee is pretty good and the chairs are comfy and the staff are nice.

The Good:  The first good coffee we found was at Blond Coffee in Angaston.  Oh dear, we thought, we have to go all the way to Angaston to get a coffee?  But for those of you who are out and about at the wineries in the area (like Murdock), you might need to stop and have a short strong one before you go home.  I am sad to report that the last time we went there, the coffee wasn’t as good as it has been – I am not sure why, maybe just a bad day.

Now, every Thursday (and sometimes Tuesday) I visit the Central Market, where I buy our eggs and dairy (The Smelly Cheese Shop and/or Say Cheese) our fruit and veg (House of Organics) bread and pizza dough (I used to make my own, dough that is, but have gotten lazy of late and Kate’s Patisserie gets pretty good stuff), croissants (Dough), and coffee for the house (The Perfect Cup: the Chagga Pea Berry for Foodie and the Ethiopian Double Roast for Groggy – we were warned off of the other main coffee stall by an ex-employee who told us that they re-packaged inferior beans as premium product),  and recently I have started working my way through the cafés and stopping for a coffee.

Now, I love the Perfect Cup.  They have great whole bean and ground coffee (although it would be nice to see more organic and fair trade) and the staff are personable and super friendly (although they did sell me the worst coffee pot I have ever owned in my life, a Vev aluminium stove top, and when I mentioned that it was ruining my mornings, they basically said, wow, sucks to be you).  Anyway, I am sad to report, they make a too-hot grey latte.  Very unfortunate.  So in my amazing good luck, my next café was Zuma (no website we could find).

Caffè Zuma is on the south side of the Central Market on Gouger Street.  They have a basic café menu that looks pretty good but I admit I haven’t tried anything but the nice fruit toast and the  cunning little muffins baked in clay flower pots.  However, the coffee is what we have been looking for.  I almost kissed the barista.  I am not sure why people aren’t shouting from the roof tops about the brew in this place – maybe because they don’t want you to know?  Or perhaps because it is inconvenient and they are closed on Sundays?  I don’t know,  But now that I have found them, I haven’t been able to even buy a desperation coffee anywhere else.

If you live in Adelaide, run, don’t walk, to get the only coffee worth drinking in town.



~ by Foodie on 26/01/2009.

5 Responses to “The Quest for Coffee”

  1. Back in my coffee drinking days I found The Big Table, just across from Zuma, better and more consistent than Zuma, but these things change. It would still be worth a look.

    Also definitely worth trying are Double Shot on Chesser Street (they will make it how you want it from their variety of house-roasted beans) and Kappy’s and Wright on Compton Street near the central markets. The K&W on Flinders Street has become a lot less friendly since a recent change of management, but that might be because I am youngish and people tend to think I look weird.


  2. Thanks for the suggestions, Marty. We’ll definitely check them out.


  3. I ‘stumbled’ upon your blog whilst reading over the shoulder of a friend who works at Sparrow and it really is quite exciting to finally find a food blog on Adelaide. Anyway suggestions on this post for great coffee..?! Did I mention I used to work at the now long gone Cibo Ristorante… so coffee I know.

    Best inside the citi – tucked behind Rundle Street a funky and great place called Nanos… Awesome breakfast also and open on weekends!

    Another place also open on weekends out of the city in Stoneyfell (near St Peters Girls) is Taylor Blend. His blend is specially roasted every three days ensuring a rich, velvety crema. Unlike the larger guys who have their beans imported from Italy, roasted some 6 months ago.

    More news on Cibo espressos… Rio will soon cease to be their bean supplier as they move to a new level with their franchise. They are working towards bringing pretty much everything in-house from roasting their own beans to manufacturing their own take-away cups!! Now there’s a thought!

    Hope this helps!!

  4. Hi Zamina,

    Thanks for the great suggestions and support for the blog. Many more posts to follow! We’ll definitely check out those places.


  5. […] But it was the food that kept us coming back. The little dishes and sandwiches were tasty and not too pricey, the wine list was good, with an occasional winner (the Hans Heysen organic Shiraz, which unfortunately isn’t served any more, was brilliant), and the desserts were pleasing. The coffee was very ordinary, so don’t think you’ll be treated to anything like what we should get everywhere in Adelaide (see The Quest for Coffee). […]

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