Category Archives: coffee hipstery

it only takes seven seeds to yield visits aplenty

I miss Alex.

Seven Seeds interior

There, I admitted it.

Months and months of trawling through random bits of paper and I found a (deliberately) silly poem I wrote about Lenin, Russia and global warming on a receipt. On the other half, I found coffee blends and single origins he’d recommended to me and realised I missed him quite a bit, despite having seen a fair bit of him for some serious fat bastardry in Hong Kong this January just passed (he’s actually a killer karaoke singer – wouldn’t have picked that).

Though Alex looks to give the impression that he’d be the first person in the world to possibly accidentally offend you, one of the things I’ve always admired about him is that if you straight-up say “I have no knowledge of <insert appropriate topic here>” then he is happy to share the knowledge he’s acquired in said area.

I’d initially met him at a Libertine pigfest that I’d somehow successfully managed to arrange and so we got to chat more via that dreaded microblogging social platform and confessed, look, I can’t drink a lot of coffee due to side effects of meds AND idiot IBS, but I want to learn more. Care to help a nigga out?

Seven Seeds, back counter

Thus, he took me to Seven Seeds and my coffee initiation begun.

Seven Seeds counter

I think that date we had four or so coffees each – I had as much as I knew my body would handle – espresso, the Magic (a double ristretto in case Courtney crucifies me for referring to it as thus), Clover, long black.

the 'magic'

Clover coffee

Man, why didn’t Seven Seeds exist when I was actually still at bloody uni? No matter, I was stuck in a soulless job just round the corner (though many of my bosses and coworkers were rad) and it became my pre-work ritual to pick up a soy Magic with the SS house blend. Pretty sure that their soy Magics are what kept me sane. I remember negotiating door, takeaway coffee and various things in hands and once dropping said takeaway coffee on floor. People from another project rushed to my aid but it wasn’t the humiliation, it was the sheer loss of wondrous caffeine goodness that I most lamented. Screw my dignity.

squee! bikes!

On the more common occasions, I’d show up with a grin (don’t worry, the grin wouldn’t be around for too long after), sipping my precious. “Where did you get that?” my favourite team leader would ask. “Oh, Seven Seeds, just up the road a bit…” and after explaining just how far, it was vetoed as a work coffee run place due to being too far.

Oh, did I mention they do great nibblies too? I never feel lonely eating here by myself – the staff are always so lovely and happy to explain the coffee to you till the moment of epiphany hits. Here’s one of the heartier baked beany type meals I had. Infinite comfort food.

020920102589

If you want something more breakfasty rather than brunchy, then how about granola?

granola with berry compote and honeyed yoghurt

Or if you’ve survived an onslaught with the public and private health system (as I seem to be doing of late) and are feeling like a treat, then go with the special of the day – smoked salmon, radish, red onion, watercress, rocket and mixed salad with creme fraiche dressing – salut, Monsieur Decadence.

smoked salmon, radish, red onion, watercress, rocket and mixed salad with creme fraiche dressing

If you can’t eat in, then why not grab a takeaway coffee and some delectable snacky-wacks? I admit these were initially chosen due to their looks but they most certainly did not disappoint. You can see they are divided exactly down the middle so no one has to fight for their share…

flourless mandarin cake & hummingbird cake with takeaway coffee

It’s not just a Carlton institution, it’s a coffee institution. Still feels weird to visit now that Alex isn’t in Melbourne anymore, but it’s a treasured haunt.

just general Seven Seeds prettiness

Seven Seeds on Urbanspoon

HK: withdrawal…

Gem and I had made it through Kuala Lumpur’s LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) on nothing more than airline food and nervous energy. She’d been awake the entire time; I’d napped in a cramped half-daze.

Man, I could murder a coffee.

Unfortunately, I was in Hong Kong. Venturing out in to the city for my first coffee I came to a horrible realisation — apparently the only thing Hong Kong denizens like more than shopping and eating is Starbucks. I’m fairly sure south-east Asia single-handedly saved Starbucks from bankruptcy by ingesting their caffeinated swill. You get the picture — it was dire.

I kept an eye out for somewhere better, but came up with nothing. Aside from Starbucks you have Pacific Coffee — a similarly vile beverage dispensary. Forlorn, but not defeated, I contacted former Melbourne coffee heart-throb, @alexlobov. Prior to our arrival, Alex had alluded to some coffee oases in the otherwise stark coffee landscape that is Hong Kong.

Armed with information and Google maps to guide me (courtesy of my Jesus phone), I headed to Fuel Espresso deep within the bowels of the International Finance Centre. You’d be forgiven for walking past Fuel’s pedestrian exterior — more Gloria Jean’s than Seven Seeds; not a funky interior or cool barista in sight  — which is unsurprising given its pecuniary surrounds.

I assume it was America’s proclivity to bastardise food that made the thought of an ‘Americano’ (a long black) off-putting in a supersized kind of way. However, if you can get past the name, you will be presented with a good rendition of a long black. Failing that, all of the usual coffee suspects are represented (with their usual names).

 

The staff are friendly, the coffee is good (using a Italian house blend that is roasted in NZ). As this store spawned from a successful New Zealand franchise, Fuel Espresso the HK edition is well worth visiting for your caffeine IV.

However, my caffeine addiction was rampant and all-consuming (oh how droll!) so one place was never going to satisfy. Acting on another recommendation from Alex, I journeyed to my next cafe, hoping to appease my caffeine lust.

The beauty of Hong Kong for me is the fat-bastard-enabling public transport. I can gorge myself in Kowloon, then hop on a train and be across the water on Island stuffing my face within minutes. Said enabling transport allowed me to slip from Kowloon to Sheung Wan for my morning coffee(s) at Barista Jam. Barista Jam would not feel out of place amongst the emaciated and skinny denimed set of Melbourne’s coffee scene. Just like Melbourne you can expect some excellent nosh to go with your coffee — I can attest to the deliciousness of their sandwiches, seeking out their club sandwiches like a pig to truffles. Light fluffy ‘Turkish’ bread with tasty fillings left me wanting more and on revisiting with Gem, they were reordered.

But let’s not get distracted — the coffee!

My first coffee was a double ristretto. It was just right with a great acidic bite without being overpowering. I then moved on to one of the single origins (the exact name escapes me) as a long black (Americano) and finished my decadent spree with a latte of the house blend. All were excellent, and with Barista Jam offering a good rotations of singles and blends you shouldn’t go thirsty.

Upon ordering the double ristretto I received an approving nod from barista — you know, one of those ‘in the know’ things. While I consider myself inexperienced with regards to coffee, I have developed sufficiently to recognise a passable coffee and good interpretation of its style. I think in an odd way the barista appreciated my appreciation, did we have some sort of metaappreciation thing happening? Everybody appreciates sympathy within their day-to-day grind (apologies for the terrible pun), and I think this is especially true of the often under-appreciated  hospitality worker. While the people of Hong Kong are amazingly savvy consumers — especially with their food — they are still developing an appreciation of good coffee (as ‘evidenced’ by the 50 Starbucks on the Island alone) and especially of good beer (but more on that in a future post).

However, fear not, weary traveler – good coffee  can be found everywhere, if you are prepared to seek it out.

and there you are

Squee, another guest post! This one is from my fave zinester Beck, of ‘Macarons Are Not Macaroons’ fame. I asked her to write this post because there was a conflict of interest regarding the place reviewed below (full disclosure: I did work there very briefly). I also asked her to write a guest post for the blog because reading writing in her voice makes me laugh my arse off.

The first time I went to Elevenses I almost didn’t go at all. As a trade-off for dragging Miss G to my end of the CBD – Degraves – the first time we met, it was suggested that she should get the next pick for our cafe-rendezvous. It was unfortunate then that, as it is at the start of all new friendships, it is hard to gauge the other party’s concept of time based on only meeting them only once before.

our wildebeest friend

Never having been to Elevenses before, hell, never having ever even been to traipse Little Collins Street before – let alone trying to find a cafe there – put me on edge and I found myself there about half an hour before we were meant to meet. As luck wold have it, Miss G was then about half an hour late – or more perhaps – I remember thinking I should bail so it could have been more but I think she was having a Why Is Metro So Unkind? moment, so I was sympathetic. The point is that she did turn up in the end, even if she was late. Once we walked through the doorway of Elevenses I was well glad I had stuck around.

Upon entering Elevenses you’re stuck with a sense of walking into someone’s “this is the amazing little place I only take people I really like to” hide-away. It is all high ceilings and warm bricks, a mix of natural light and soft lighting, original artworks, old fashioned furnishings, a repurposed pool table, a side-board filled with a very fitting selection of music and Scrabble.

Scrabble at Elevenses

repurposed pool table!

It is one of those places you walk into and immediately think ‘my brother would really like it here‘ even if you aren’t the kind of person who has a cafe-snob for a brother.

The story goes that Tom and Shanny originally opened Elevenses in Kensington, but after some terrible storms and a really awful landlord, they had to close and have, as such, moved on to Little Collins St. I had never been to the original Elevenses but if you watch this video you get a really good sense of the kind of place the original shop was like. Now if you can imagine taking that vibe and squirreling it away into a space in the business end of the city…

To be honest I didn’t think such a warm and homely place could exist on any kind of Collins Street, but there it is, and there you are.

retro stereo cabinet

Tom and Shanny run the place themselves and you can tell that it is their baby more than it is just their business. The cooked food is made from scratch in their kitchen – the menu runs from breakfasty-type things;  fruit toast, muffins and pastries, to rather high-end sandwiches which include the gamey likes of rabbit and kangaroo (Rooben rye pictured below)…

Rooben rye sandwich

…as well as the more humble varieties such as pork.

pork belly sandwich

And the coffee, well, it’s not made from scratch per se – they stock Toby’s Estate, for the record, and it is quite delightful – but Tom will overextend himself for you and make you your coffee just the way you like it, even if he doesn’t pretend to understand why you would want your latte made with cold milk at all.

Elevenses is more than a coffee place, it is a cafe experience that is few and far between in these modern times – it is the kind of cafe you would call home; where Tom and Shanny become your coffee-based-family and you can very easily lose a couple of hours there if you are not careful, and you do find yourself taking your cafe-snob siblings there and find that you do not have to force them to fall in love with the place because it is a very easy and natural thing to do and you find yourself alright with that because now there is finally a place you can agree on.

Elevenses Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon