Tag Archives: coffee

an unlikely but brilliant combination

Breakfast and beer.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds, as amply demonstrated by the two beermen.tv breakfasts, one of which was held this year as part of Good Beer Week.

Having missed the Royal Mail Hotel’s breakfast offerings (first world sob!) and needing to hit the road after a late morning check-out, I suggested that Daylesford’s famous Breakfast & Beer might be a worthy detour before hitting the city life, where perpetual city kids like me can go nuts everytime they see ducks fly…

Daylesford is indeed quite the oasis, it’s picturesque, has an ample amount of places for rich city folks to spend their dollars at getting in touch with their inner selves and then finding charming trucs at charming antique shops, like this and naturally going ga-ga over them:

Enid Blyton's The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat

Oh, but the lovely little Beetle outside the shop was also very noteworthy – all beaten-up but still so colourful, literally and figuratively.

Oh, but we’re losing our purpose! Breakfast & Beer.

The two dogs in the stained glass window have some significance to the venue (either currently owned or formerly owned), but I forget exactly which – apols.

To say the owner was ecstatic at my beer choices (apparently, Tris had made the executive decision that I had to choose for both of us…pressure, yikes!) was an understatement. He even snuck a straw-sip of this beauty, the Beer Here Hopfix. I blame him not one bit. My beer strategy was to choose one beer that matched our food and one that matched the chilliness. This one was for the dishes we ordered. It is bitter, hoppy, weed-like goodness. I’ve smelt weed before…in fact just the other night at the Faust gig it was great to see some oldies enjoying a spliff or several?

Onto the food – if you want deliciously prepared comfort food, then this is the place to come and get it, truly. I chose a serving of the roasted Lancashire sausages with bread and butter pickles, with a fried egg on toast, garnished with some rocket. Hop-strong beers are well suited to fatty meat-type things like sausages and pork belly (as well as curry) – a good tip I learnt from Ben Kraus, Bridge Road’s brewer: a tip-off I’m forever grateful for. Also, juiciest sausages ever!

Tristan chose the honey baked Istra ham, Brussels sprout bubble and squeak with horseradish. My mouth is watering, just looking at the photo.

Our season-appropriate beer was the Emerson’s London porter. Whinge as you all may about the unusually cold snap in Melbourne’s late autumn before the onset of winter proper, you cannot deny that it is consummate porter and stout enjoying weather. Drink up that liquid roastiness! I love the glass they served it to us in too. Reminds me of some of my parents’ 70s Cristal d’Arques wine glasses which are probably older than I am and made the migration from England to here!

If you were really in doubt on just how extensive the beer range is at this delicious, quirky little place, I beseech you to view the photographic evidence below. There’s an excellent range of good local and international brews to whet your whistle and I can assure you, deciding what to order was not particularly easy.

The owner and staff are passionate and enthusiastic and scores of locals known to them came in and out as we dined. An excellent sign, I’d wager! My lit nerd curator girlfriend keeps ‘threatening’ to take me to Daylesford next time I visit her in Ballarat and I dare say I will let her next visit and truthfully, Daylesford is not too far from Melbourne either.

When possible, Breakfast & Beer support local causes and produce. When chatting to the staff and owner, I got the impression they love to be active within the community and not necessarily related to just food or beer-specific activities. Their coffee is a local Coffee Basics Arabica blend, roasted in Castlemaine despite my being obsessed with their otherwise branded coffee cups: simple things do indeed amuse simple minds.


Map coffee mug & saucer

And after – an obsessive-compulsive sufferer’s* worst dream:

an out-of-line Map coffee mug & saucer

I much preferred the beautiful old world ceramic glasses used for lattes, as modelled by a very dapper albeit slightly tired-looking Tristan.

an unusual but gorgeous ceramic latte glass as modelled by a man of the same calibre

What a wonderful bookend to a fabulous weekend away in the country.

Breakfast & Beer on Urbanspoon

*and no, not to make light of any such mental illness, OCD is hard shit, folks

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.


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.