Haven Coffee Review

Photo from Haven Coffee’s Facebook

Sydney

This relatively new cafe has a nautical cross Scando theme, with rustic white wood complementing rope features, all pulled together in a predominantly minimalist style and topped off with navy blue detailing. It’s spacious, well-lit and inviting. The staff are polite, sincere and accommodating. 

The coffee is meant as the main draw card here. Not only does Haven boast world standard baristaring, but also tailored coffee. In your coffee you can choose levels of acidity, after taste, aroma, sweetness, body as well as different blends/flavours (ie rich and nutty, fruity, etc.).
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The coffee is good. Whether you’re after a late, flat white, espresso, cold brew or espresso, all offerings are smooth and solid.
The food can be described most accurately as cafe staples but with gourmet and original twists. Think roasted plum parfait with coconut sago for breakfast or braised lamb shoulder with pickled cabbage salad for lunch. Most meals are within the $12-20 range and given the size and quality, that’s pretty darn good.
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30-34 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills
Atmosphere: 4/5
Quality: 5/5
Value: 4/5
Overall: 9/10

Haven on Urbanspoon

Woah Nelly Doughnuts Pop Up

  

Sydney

I have to admit, I’m not much of a doughnut person. Personally, I’ve never seen the attraction with these big rings of bland dough or greasy batter, topped off with sickly sweet icing. But some doughnuts look too good to pass up at least a try. 
  

  
Woah Nelly doughnuts are usually reserved for those who wish to order six or more, ahead of time, to be delivered on a Friday. I wouldn’t exactly label them as ” easily available”. So, when you receive word that they will be hosting a pop up at one of your favourite coffee spots for one day only; no pre-planned ordering, no quantity minimums, just the casual, in-person exchange of the goods you want for the price they charge; you take the opportunity. 
 
At $5 each, they were a little pricier than the usual catering price, but when they are covered in a variety of sauces and crunchy bits, then placed neatly in a cardboard burger box, it seems easy to let that minor detail slip. 
  
So, where they enough to convert this proclaimed doughnut-unenthusiast into someone who thinks that doughnuts could, maybe, be in an appropriate treat of choice sometimes? I can only speak for one flavour, but yes! Predictably, I went for the salted caramel and pretzel (whilst maple bacon does sound pretty exciting, bacon is another food I don’t understand the wide spread fascination with).
The texture/softness of the dough was perfect; not too doughy or bread roll like. The salted caramel icing was just the right consistency to stick to the doughnut without causing any mess, yet runny enough to provide a contrast to the crispy bits of broken pretzel. The two flavours complemented each other well, without any expense spared to ensure that the caramel was suitably salty. 
  
It’s unlikely that I will start ordering these doughnuts, even as a Friday afternoon work treat, but if Woah Nelly starting doing more physical pop ups like this, it’s definitely something I’d go out of my way for. 
Atmosphere: 4/5 (not really an atmosphere score given it was a pop up at another cafe, but I give points for the packaging)
Value: 3/5
Quality: 5/5
Overall: 8/10

Sydney’s Best Almond Croissants

Almond Croissants are underrated to say the least. Although a staple of most bakeries/patisseries, they are never given as much credit as their more prominent cousin; the original croissant. Alas, they have the potential to blend the crispyness and buttery goodness of a croissant with the doughy, sweetness of a cake. Needless to say, it’s time we had a list to celebrate these perfect creations and pay our respects to those who do them the well.

These are the best almond croissants in Sydney.

1 – La Renaissance $5/$6.50 (takeaway/eat in) The Rocks

Apparently they sell over 1000 of these weekly making it a clear specialty and they are pretty good. One of the more buttery tasting almond croissants I’ve had, the outside is slightly crunchy with a multitude of almonds and icing sugar scattered over. This houses a delicious cakey core that still resembles a traditional croissant. Let’s just ignore the horrendous $1.50 eat in charge. 

2 – Brickfields $5 Chippendale
These guys get the all important balance between a flaky, crisp shell and soft inner just right. It tastes like they add a slight amount of honey to the outside and cinnamon to the filling and the whole thing is best described as sitting proudly between a standard croissant and almond croissant.
3 – Infinity Bakery $4.50 Darlinghurst
These things are not for the faint-hearted. They’re friggin’ massive. They are also probably the closest thing to a traditional almond croissant I’ve found. Originally almond croissants were a deformation of stale croissants so that they could still be used. Patisseries would take the once crispy, now soft croissant and dress it in almond paste and flakes. That’s largely what this is and it goes down a treat.
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4 – Bourke Street Bakery $4.50 Surry Hills
Quite heavy and cakey, this resembles more of a bun than a croissant. It’s the same size/shape as a pain au chcocolate, but soft and with a substantial amount of almond filling that is almost creamy It’s pretty damn tasty but I’m not sure that it is entirely what I look for in an almond croissant.
5 – Central Baking Depot $4.40 Sydney
The hordes of people hanging around here every morning are not misled. As you enter, you are greeted with the thick smell of various tempting pastries. Their almond croissants seemed to have diminished in size over the years but are still quite a generous snack. They blend their soft, cake-lie interior with a slightly crispy outer shell. Nicely done.
IMG_35637 – Flour and Stone $4.50 Woolloomooloo
They may well be known for their lamingtons, but how does their take on the humble almond croissant compare? Well, it’s a little hard to ran them amongst their peers, because their almong croissant is a lot more like a standard croissant. Rather than being soft and cakey, it’s firm and crunchy with icing sugar and almond slivers scattered on top. Whether or not it makes it better is a matter of personal taste, and personally, I really like them.
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8 – Sonoma $5 Glebe
The Sonoma almond croissant is soft and tasty but really pushes on the boundary of cake/bun rather than a croissant. It’s quite soft all the way through with no crisp coming from the shell. It’s still a decent size and offering though.

La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie on Urbanspoon Brickfields on Urbanspoon Infinity Bakery on Urbanspoon Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon Central Baking Depot on Urbanspoon Flour and Stone on Urbanspoon Sonoma Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon La Banette Pâtisserie on Urbanspoon

Sydney’s Best Specialty Cold Coffee

With every man and his dog now offering cold brew/drip coffee, not to mention the classic iced coffee that been around for eons, the time has come for cafes to push the boundaries of cold coffee to stand out. Here are some of the most interesting specialty offerings to get your caffeine addiction through the warmer months…or what’s left of them.

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Mecca Espresso Shakerato $4 (Ultimo)

This one is all about that extra slap in the face, with not one, but two espresso shots, shaken with sugar syrup. Unfortunately, the take away form comes in a jar, and although we can see that for this drink there’s a particular logic; lid on and shake; it’s still embarrassing to be seen walking around with. 


Rueben Hills Coffee Slushi with Panella $6 (Surry Hills)
There aren’t too many options out there for slushis that will provide you with a caffeine hit, but Rueben Hills should be all you need. The coffee flavours comes out a lot more than expected, and $6 for a good quality shake ain’t too bad either.
Take Coffee Vietnamese Coconut Coffee $5.40 (Marrickville)
The sweetness of the condensed milk and coconut in here isn’t enough to overpower the richness of the coffee; you get the best of both worlds. A bit heavier than a frappe but very refreshing none the less. Those who are more adventurous might want to try the coffee and avocado shake.
Coffee Alchemy The Sparkler $7 (Marrickville)
Ever heard of coffee fresh on tap? If so, it was probably from Coffee Alchemy. Get ice cold coffee in a matter of seconds, mixed with sparkling water for one very refreshing brew. And how does it taste? Well pretty much exactly like black coffee mixed with sparkling water. They rotate the beans used regularly though, so you’ll get something a little different every time.
Don Campos Tom Thumb $5.50 (Alexandria)
Don Campos offer a selection of cold summer specials; cold drop, spritzer; but the Tom Thumb is the stand out. Mixed up in your coffee, you’ll have refreshing lemon sorbet, fresh lime and mint for the ultimate summer blend. It’s kind of like a cocktail of the coffee world, with caffeine to replace alcohol.
Piccolo Me  Lemon and Rose Water Cold Drip $5.90 (CBD)
Piccolo Me are good at their sweet concoctions, both hot and cold. This particular edition is not your average cold brew- it has a twist each of lemon juice and rose to give it that something special. They also have an extensive range of flavoured iced coffees; the most notable being the Nutella iced coffee.
See the full list.

 
Take Coffee on Urbanspoon Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon Piccolo Me on Urbanspoon Mecca Espresso - Ultimo on Urbanspoon Coffee Alchemy on Urbanspoon Don Campos on Urbanspoon

Bonarche Burger Review

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Image from bonarche.com

When it comes to burgers, these guys don’t mess about. The burgers are huge, packed with ingredients, with sauces and juices dripping all over the place. Each party is made in house from Australian steak and all ingredients are made/prepared fresh daily.

The restaurant itself is neat and small; probably seating around 15 people inside with a few more outside. Some interesting Star Wars inspired art hangs from the walls and a decent selection of local craft beers stocks the fridge.

To start off with, you have some unique choices of chips; kimchi, pizza and “disco”. These all come in large servings with excessive toppings. Beware that the burgers themselves are huge. Even sharing one serving of chips between three people on top of a burger will probably be too much unless you are inhumanly hungry.

Onto the main event though. The Beef n Beach is the iconic offering at Bonarche; combining aoli with BBQ sauce, beef with bacon and some juicy pineapple to top it all off. It’s big and tasty, but personally, I prefer the Hangover Burger. This genius creation includes a hash brown to complement the beef patty, smokey BBQ, bacon, egg and even a Barocca on the side. Brilliant. But you’d have to have a pretty big hangover appetite to tackle those one.

On the chicken side, the Tender Tokyo is good for something different. A katsu-style crumbed chicken patty interacts with Asian style slaw and kapu dressing. Like the others, they’re big and messy but totally delicious.

Overall, the menu here is extensive. They have all the classics; cheese burger, chicken and cheese, steak burger, portobello mushroom, Hawaiian etc.; as well as some more adventurous offerings (in addition to those already mentioned); Mexican style chicken, porterhouse with eggplant and feta, lentil patty. No matter whether you choose a tried and tested combination or something a little different, they all seem to be pretty damn good. I found anywhere yet that does as well on a quality-price-size basis yet.

Burgers: $14.50-$21

Atmosphere: 3/5
Value: 4/5
Quality: 5/5
Overall: 9/10

14 Norton Street, Leichhardt

bonarche.com

Bonarche Burgers on Urbanspoon

Artificer Coffee Review

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Surry Hills, Sydney

Minimalism is the name of the game here as you walk into a reasonably spacious cafe with off white walls which match the counter as well as a couch; the only bit of furniture they have. An open space at the back suggests that there may be some plans ahead to set up more of an eat-in area, but for now there’s simply just a lot of standing space to while you wait for your coffee. Although there’s not much happening, I really liked this low key, unassuming atmosphere, and spaciousness beats its peers which leave queues spilling out on the street.

Following suit with the decor, the menu is also minimalist. It’s all about the coffee and nothing else here, with food options M.I.A. But as long as they do the coffee well, that’s okay.

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They offer regular coffee options, as well as a manual drip and a single origin cold brew (mine was from Ethiopia Kolowa) that comes in an adorable little 200ml bottle. Standard flat whites are good; smooth texture, rich body and not burnt. The cold brew was a little bitter compared to most, but is a good option if you want milk free.

Atmosphere 4/5
Value 3/5
Quality 4/5
Overall 8/10

Regular 3.8
Cold brew 5
Manual filter 6

547 Bourke Street Surry Hills
artificercoffee.com

Artificer Specialty Coffee Bar & Roastery on Urbanspoon

Edition Coffee Roasters Review

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Sydney

Having opened recently, Edition Coffee Roasters is still quite minimalist and bare with no real decor on the plain white walls and seating for around 20 in the small one room cafe. Not that, that is a problem of course, this can work as a long term style, and Edition certainly seems to rock that style- even the takeaway cup are completely blank.

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There is a selection of breakfast options that mainly include gourmet twists on the cafe standards, but let’s get down to the coffee. Considering that Edition roast their own coffee, I expected good quality. Those expectations rose a little when I was charged $4 for a regular coffee. I mean, that’s pretty much airport prices.

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The coffee was good. It had a very smooth texture and clean crisp taste. It wasn’t too bitter. It definitely wasn’t burnt and it didn’t taste particularly acidic either. So needless to say it was nice. But was it $4 nice? I don’t think it stood out enough from other coffee bean roasters to warrant the price, although it was good enough that is return.

Price $4 regular coffee

Atmosphere: 3/5
Value: 2/5
Quality: 4/5
Overall: 7/10

265 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst
Images from Edition’s facebook

Edition Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon

Cafe Cre Asion Review

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Sydney

My hopes are always set fairly high for cafes and eateries tucked away in hidden alleys, just as Creasions is. They specialise in Macarons but also offer a hearty selection of home made granola, cookies and muffins.

The macarons come in a selection of traditional flavours (salted caramel, pistachio, etc) as well as flavours that feature a Japanese twist (plum wine, charcoal and coco, Japanese black caramel, roasted green tea). I of course made my choice from the latter group.

Sadly, the location and unusual flavours only give false hope that ends in a sour disappointment. The shells were chewy and even crunchy at times, resembling more of a burnt meringue than a macaron. A flavours just lacked any real kick that have you the full experience of their uniqueness.

The plum wine could have been anything; there was nothing distinctive about the flavour. The Japanese black caramel tasted more like cinnamon than caramel (maybe this is what it’s meant to taste like?) but at least had a somewhat strong flavour with a salty after taste. The roasted green tea was the nicest of my three with a lot thicket filling and a refreshing taste. But I wouldn’t say that it stood out from competitors’ green tea/ matcha macarons.

The macarons are also very small for their price (smaller than a 20c piece) and despite only asking for three, the server tried to push me into buying a box of six (doubling the order size isn’t a standard upscale opportunity).

Their assortment of other homemade goods may be better (the muffins did look pretty hearty), but I would never return for the sub par macarons.

Price: $2.70 each
Atmosphere: 3/5
Value: 3/5
Quality: 2/5
Overall: 5/10

21 Alberta Street, Surry Hills
creasionmacaron.com

 Café Cre Asion on Urbanspoon

Coffylosophy Review

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Adelaide has racked up a nice little collection of coffee specialty stores over the past few years and Coffylosophy is one of them.

Located in Adelaide’s quiet Eastend, with library bookshelves wallpaper, it makes for a low key and relaxing place to enjoy a light meal and caffeine hit. With various coffee brewing apparatus perched on the walls near the entry, it also raises the hope for a good coffee itself. But we all know that simply offering a selection of beans and brewing methods does not guarantee barista or bean quality and the eventual good cup.

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To their credit, Coffylosophy to better than many peers who claim to be fine coffee artisans but still manage to produce a burnt and bland coffee. The syphon is their main work of art and ordering one will get you front row seats for its theatrical creation. Served in a glass upon a wooden board, surrounded by chocolate pebbles ready to mix in, I found it a little more acidic and bitter than I prefer, but that’s a matter of personal taste.

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Aside from coffee, a healthy range of juices are on offer here and some light meal options. They are all fairly standard of the cafe scene now and quality is good but nothing worth raving about.

Overall, Coffylosophy has a lot of good points; nice location, peaceful atmosphere, free wifi, reasonable prices, food and drink is nice; but no great points which set it way apart from similar cafes in Adelaide. If your wondering the south-east end of the CBD though, it’s probably your best option.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Quality: 3/5
Value: 3/5
Overall: 7/5

198A Hutt Street, Adelaide
coffylosophy.com.au
Photos from Coffylosophy’s facebook
Coffylosophy on Urbanspoon

Grounds by the Sea Pop Up Review

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Sydney

The Grounds of Alexandria saw a big, gaping hole in the market and filled it. The Sculptures by the Sea exhibition attracts huge crowds every year, and aside from hitting the streets of Bondi, what food options have the hordes previously had? Usually a simple bbq. Enter Grounds of Alexandria, ready to supply the art spectators with gourmet juices, signature coffees, breakfast, lunch and dinner at their pop up Grounds by the Sea, sitting pretty amongst the sculptures in Marks Park.
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The pop up takes that family-beach-shack type feel, and adds a bit of a cottage garden touch to create a relaxed atmosphere, despite the long queues. There’s quite a contrast in the prices of food and drink- whilst both are creative and high quality offerings, the food is quite reasonable, however the juices will set you back a pretty penny.

A decent sized bowl of Bircher with yoghurt, quinoa, poached peaches, pomegranate seeds and berries will only set you back $10 and a brekkie brioche burger with bacon, avo, cheese and egg, only $12. But a freshly squeezed juice (albeit topped with a nice chunk of watermelon) is $8, add another $3 if you want a smoothie. And the biggest travesty? Market favourite, fresh sugar cane juice is also $8 (my expectations were $5 maximum). Of course you can always opt for the famous Ground’s coffee which holds it standard price.

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I went for breakfast, but there are separate menus for lunch and all day and the food, as expected, is pretty damn good. The lines are long though, even at 8:30am the wait for food pick up (including coffee) was 15 minutes. If you don’t want to be trapped in the hot sun for that long, then maybe this isn’t worth it.

Coffee $3.50
Juice $8
Bircher Muesli $10
Toastie $8

Atmosphere 5/5
Quality 4/5
Value 3/5
Overall 8/10

Marks Park, Bondi Beach
Until November 9th

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