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Something I’ll miss

I will probably miss good coffee, at least in the short term. The coffee culture of Brisbane is no match for that found in the center of Melbourne, but far outstrips that of pretty well anywhere I’ve been in Sydney. Sorry Sydney, but you make lousy coffee.

It shouldn’t be hard to make good coffee and provide a pleasant experience, but it must be, otherwise so many places wouldn’t stuff it up so badly. Burnt coffee, expensive food, weak rancid dribbles out of dirty machines, surly and disinterested staff.

Top of the list of places I will miss is Cartel Coffee. You shouldn’t expect a good coffee from a road-side cart, but these guys and girls really deliver from their cart near King George Square. The blends are excellent, and all the coffee is well made, and consistently made. The ice coffees and ice chocolates are made by making hot drinks and cooling them down. Refreshing, fresh, richly flavoured. The espressos and hot chocolates are obviously made with care by people trained to use the machines, and the results are superb. And to top it off, everyone that is there is genuinely interested in what they are doing, and in engaging with their customers.

My other local haunts are of mixed quality. I frequent them based on a complex calculus of time-of-day, state-of-mind, level of exhaustion, and the possibility of hearing good music. The little cafe downstairs in my office building does a drinkable doppio, but they always seem harried. Pleasant enough kids, but it’s obviously just a job. Still, they are closest. Pour Boy around the corner makes outstandingly good coffee, but they’re a little above market prices, and it never feels like a spot to linger. Bar Metzo across the road, and Sugar-and-Spice up the road, both make really good hot chocolate. The pleasant aspect of Sugar-and-Spice is the cosy little space, the walls lined with cups and teapots, panelled in dark timbers, and the air is always rich with the smells of various tea. Espresso Republic in the little alley near the bagel place is also reliable.

The various Aroma’s franchises have sadly faded. Once they were the best coffees around, but they’ve become dull, expensive and unreliable. The sundry Merlo bars around the place are better, probably because they are using a better blend, and I suspect they are more rigorous about training their barristas.

There’s a Starbucks nearby. The only thing I can say about it is that there’s a semi-reliable iiNet free wifi hotspot. Well, free for me since I’m an iiNet subscriber. The drinks are expensive and not very good, but I guess you already knew that. And the food is very ordinary.

I have no idea what the coffee culture in London or anywhere else in the UK is. I doubt that I will be able to walk around any corner and find a random, tiny, hole-in-the-wall that can knock me up a rich, flavourful short black made on fresh roasted interesting blends. Oh well. I drink too much coffee anyway.

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