Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 31/40
Bean: Toby’s Estate
Let’s face it, outside the odd haunt in Surry, Sydney just does not have the lane way cafes that so many of us nerds look at with envy to our Melbourne friends. However, it's 2013 ( well almost) so that does not stop us from making them.
A busy Thursday morning, post gym and sales, finds me in the city Westfield. Walking aimlessly between shops I stumble upon a new hole-in-the wall cafe within the complex.
Found on level 2 right near the Castlereagh Street entrance, between the Gucci/Louboutin and Prada stores, sits a nice long bench space, aptly named Hole In the Wall cafe, in what was, until recently, a reasonably pointless exit area.
Often we find city cafe's lack personality, particularly on weekends (the 27th of December is pretty much a weekend). This cafe however, has it in bucket loads. “What?!” I hear you say, personality in a Westfield? Yup. Well it's not the Westfield music, or the set up (although it's Workshop like inside) but it is the staff and good handling of the bean, which sells the place.
I arrived and went inside to order, where they told me it was table service but happy to take my order. I go a latte.
Upon taking a seat outside, checking out stuff that I’ve bought, the barista, as it is quiet, brings me out the coffee. Noticing that I was taking a photo of his creation he asked me if I wanted a second latte with a better design on top. I had a good chuckle and took him up on his offer. Not that the first looked poor, but I’m happy to say the second was spot on.
So how did they match up technically? Heat between the two was quite similar, foam on the second was right on the mark, on the first quite a little off. Aroma between the two matched perfectly and presentation of a black saucer and glass the same.
Tasting wise it was spot on the mark Toby's Estate house blend. Toby's is nothing amazing to the average nerd these days as it's everywhere, but is a nice bean and does hold itself well under the right hands. Toby's house roast was fruity, toffee sweet and rich with a reasonable acidity to it.
One of the funny things about the bean is that reviewers often like it more than coffee nerds. I’ll let you know why, I have found you often get a good taste out of it from the upper middle part of your mouth, near your teeth. Take a sip and try sloshing it around in your mouth to hit this spot. This is not the action of most, especially when drinking what is a standard bean these days.
Letting it cool like any good Toby's the steeping of the milk and bean blended nicely and I found it quite developed and rich.
Overall, while I cannot guarantee the same level of service that I experienced, I really enjoyed my experience. The coffee was spot on, matching Toby's Estate store quality (at least the second one), the atmosphere was something different for the city and seating comfortable and chilled. The big stand out was the staff who I found delightful, I loved the fact I received a second coffee for free just because I was taking a photo of the first. Although you may be quick to point out, shouldn't every coffee be as good as the second?
In the end, this cafe is a good example of something, which is not amazing, but if functioning well will do great in the scoring, they just hit all the right boxes.
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
Coffee total: 16/20
2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): A high end Westfield alleyway
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 31/40
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