REVIEW: Cafe Crawl
This post was first published as part of Brittany’s Catalyst blogging residency, ‘The Two Review’ with fellow student Alexandra McManus. The Two Review offered a unique double review of all things Melbourne. Below are just Brittany’s parts of the post, but you can view them in full here.
Summary: Melbourne is renowned for it’s excellent coffee, but is it really all that? The Two Review test some of the most hyped up (and hidden gem!) cafes claiming to sell the best.
The Two Review: Cafe 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 Tea
The café: Plantation
The 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.
The rating: B – 4 teacups
The drink: Cappuccino
The café: A Little Bird Told Me
The location: 29 Little Latrobe Street, Melbourne
B: 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.
The drink: Chai
The café: Silo By Joost
The location: 123 Hardware Street, Melbourne
B: 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.
The rating: B – 4 teacups
The drink: Hot chocolate
The café: Seven Seeds
The location: 106-144 Berkeley Street, Carlton
B: 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.)
The rating: B – 5 teacups