The Two Review: ‘Melbourne from A to B’ – Café Crawl
There’s almost nothing Melbourne city-dwellers prize more than their beloved coffee. Whether it’s a relaxing drink or fuel on the go, we think we make it best. To put this to the test, The Two Review tested out some of the most hyped cafés – as well as our hidden gems – claiming to offer the best. Because not everyone in Melbourne loves coffee (much to Ally’s dismay), we thought we should test out some other hot drinks, too.
In one uncharacteristically productive morning before uni, the two coffee crawled their way across four cafes, consuming a pot of green tea; two cappuccinos; a giant jug of chai; two hot chocolates and a wagyu beef burger. Needless to say, we were very alert. We’d also like to emphasise that although we only tried a specific drink at each place, it doesn’t mean other drinks on offer weren’t great – we just don’t think any human being could handle that much caffeine! We’ve already marketed our mission of reviews with a difference, so we hope you’ll enjoy our rating system for each week. Instead of the generic star rating, we’ve gone for teacups – surprise, surprise! Will anyone make it to five (the best) or will we be left with an empty, single teacup for some? The drink: Green TeaThe café: PlantationThe location: Shop 253, Melbourne Central Shopping Centre (300 Latrobe Street, Melbourne)B: Situated in Melbourne Central’s busy top food court, I originally feared Plantation would lack the atmosphere of a café. These fears were quickly put aside when we spotted mini booths behind the service area – cute, secluded two seaters that would be perfect for a a date or catch up. Plantation’s green tea is infused with jasmine pearls, which sound pretty and SMELL AMAZING! Served in very cute red teacups (a weakness for me), the first cup was the perfect temperature but slightly weaker than I would have liked. The second cup was slightly stronger but not overpowering. The overall atmosphere of the café is good. Beneath Plantation’s secluded archways you can forget you’re in the middle of a shopping centre and just enjoy the exotic and cleansing goodness that is green tea. A: As I mentioned last week, green tea is a daily necessity for me, and if I’m running late and can’t brew it at home, Plantation is my saviour. They also offer a student discount, which is great for RMIT students as the café is nearby. At Plantation, the baristas show passion when they make their coffee and tea. When serving the jasmine pearl green tea to customers, the staff remind you to let the leaves brew for about four minutes before drinking. This also enhances the flavour of the tea, which can be tasted with each sip. They also sell this tea on the premises – $15 for 150g – and if brewed at home, I’d allow about six pearls per pot. Plantation’s jasmine green tea is incredibly fragrant, invigorating and not bitter like some other green teas. It is definitely one to try if you’re beginning to get into green tea, or if you’re a fan of slightly weaker herbal teas. I have been a green tea drinker for many years, and this is without a doubt the best green tea I’ve had
in Melbourne. It never disappoints. Bear in mind, if you’re not a fan of jasmine, then it might not be for you. The rating: B – 4 teacups, A – 4.5 teacupsThe drink: CappuccinoThe café: A Little Bird Told MeThe location: 29 Little Latrobe Street, MelbourneB: Time for the first confession of this post (and not necessarily the last) – I’ve never had coffee before! As someone who already has far too much energy most of the time, I generally prefer something chocolaty. But it was in A Little Bird Told Me, for the good of this blog, that I popped my coffee cherry. With an entirely glass exterior (making it a terrific spot for people watching), the interior is surprisingly homely, with touches of greenery and beautiful turquoise décor. The clientele is a mix of students and suits, seated next to each other across the four large communal tables. Presentation wise, the cappuccino is spot on. Served in a teacup in my favourite colour, the top is almost too pretty to spoil. But it’s chocolate, and I’m thirsty, so the artwork is quickly smudged by my spoon. With the froth gone, the first few sips leave me unimpressed; my tastebuds confused at this foreign flavour invasion. Halfway through, I begin to enjoy it. The temperature is good and the taste improving with each gulp. “Maybe I can do this coffee thing,” I think to myself. And suddenly I can feel my eyes as wide as saucers because I have all this energy that I never thought possible and I feel like I can do anything and everything and why have I not taken a pause this whole sentence?! Oh, caffeine. A: I want to begin the review of this café by explaining their coffee is the only reason I get up on a Friday morning to go to my incredibly intense 8:30 law lecture. The warmth in the industrial but homely style cafe, with wood crafted furniture and friendly staff is the perfect pick-me-up (and I’m not even up to the coffee yet!). I am a cappuccino lover, and my only request is that it is served hot. This can sometimes be a problem, as some cafés burn the milk as opposed to heating up the coffee cup, but I was content with A Little Bird Told Mewhen they bought out my hot and aesthetically pleasing cappuccino. Their coffee blend is Seven Seeds (remember that name for later). I sometimes find this blend too bitter, but for other people the taste works perfectly. However my fears of a burnt, bitter coffee were diminished the second the cappuccino hit my taste buds. A Little Bird Told Meis a great café worth returning to, my only concern is that people who love lots of granulated chocolate on top of their cappuccino might leave a little disappointed. But in my opinion, the designs in the milk compensate that aspect! The rating: A – 4 teacups, B – 3.5 teacupsThe drink: ChaiThe café: Silo By Joost The location: 123 Hardware Street, MelbourneB: The homely and communal feel continues at Silo by Joost. Opposite The Hardware Societe on Hardware Street, it’s probably our most hidden gem of the post. One long table that runs the length of the café allows you to see everything the staff are doing. The chai is served in a large glass jug with rustic ceramic cups and certainly looks impressive. It’s has a beautiful strong fragrance, that on a closer sniff, reminds me very much of Christmas. The barista informs us what we can smell is their homemade combination of chai leaves, cardammon, cloves, cinnamon, orange, bay leaves and honey. Delicious! After letting it brew for a few minutes and adding a drizzle of honey, the flavours are enhanced even more – although I find it a little too milky. By the time I pour my second cup, the chai has had a chance to brew for longer and is better. After seeing freshly baked bread come out of the oven, we try the smoked cheddar loaf. It’s to die for. A: Chai resonates strongly with me as it was the first loose leaf tea I really got in to (excluding English Breakfast of course). Silo By Joost has a great way of simultaneously brewing the chai leaves with the milk, which is something I don’t think enough cafés do. Everyone knows Hardware Lane in the CBD, but not many people know Hardware Street, which adds on the end of Hardware Lane in the northerly direction where this hidden café resides. The chai is served with honey, which I adamantly believe you must have with it. Their house blend of the tea is so delicious and the spices are the best warmth for winter; but I think our pot was slightly too weak for my liking. There are so many different components to chai, so in my opinion, a strong brew allows you to appreciate them all well. The rating: B – 4 teacups, A – 3.5 teacupsThe drink: Hot chocolateThe café: Seven Seeds The location: 106-144 Berkeley Street, CarltonB: Finally, a drink I have some actual expertise on! Not drinking tea or coffee (until this week at least), hot chocolate is my go-to winter drink. It’s hot, chocolately and you can drink it on the go – perfection, no? The one at Seven Seeds is aestheticly pleasing, just like the place’s industrial/trendy loft-style look. Instantly setting it apart from all other hot chocolates is the whittakers chocolate stick protruding from the mug. This slowly melts into the hot chocolate, adding deliciously rich chocolate pools into the drink. To my surprise, unlike most other hot chocolates, the warm temperature means you can start drinking straight away. It strikes the perfect balance between being chocolatey, but not too rich, and it’s not long before the two are sat before two empty mugs almost licked clean – (please, we do have some dignity!). I’ve not even put down my mug before I’ve texted everyone in my address book that I’ve just had the best hot chocolate ever. (I also order the Wagyu beef burger that comes with crisps, which is equally delicious.) A: I’ve never been a strong fan of hot chocolates (after many sickening departures from Max Brenner, where my eyes become bigger than my stomach), but Seven Seeds was quick to change my mind. Not situated directly in the CBD, its Carlton residence is only a ten-minute walk from the CBD. This means Melbourne University students can enjoy these decadent but tasteful hot drinks just as much as RMIT students! This was my first Seven Seeds hot chocolate experience (I usually just go there for their great coffee), and I was immediately impressed by the quality of their hot chocolate. The temperature of the drink wasn’t quite hot enough for me though, because before I knew it, our drinks were devoured! The chocolate stick melting in the drink only added to its decadence, but it was definitely not overdone. I finished my drink in the same way Brittany did, by getting on my iPhone to tell people how amazing the experience was! The rating: B – 5 teacups, A – 4.5 teacups Next week The Two Review will head slightly to the North of the CBD to review another Melbourne icon. Only making an appearance over a few weeks in winter and summer, is it something you should mark in your calendar? Find out next week. Brittany & Alexandra