My introduction to speciality coffee in Melbourne came via Coffee Black Coffee’s container on Queensbridge Square on the south bank of the Yarra River, opposite Flinders Street Station and the Central Business District. Each of my first four days in Melbourne began with the five-minute walk from our hotel to the open spaces of Queensbridge Square where I had a flat white, as well as picking up a coffee for Amanda, which I took back to the hotel.
Code Black Coffee occupies a converted shipping container, appropriately painted black, on the western edge of Queensbridge Square, its back to Queens Bridge Street. Six round tables are arranged in two rows in front of the container should you want to stay, although everything is served in disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own. All the coffee is roasted in-house, with a blend and single-origin available (either hot or cold) through a simple espresso-based menu, while another single-origin is on batch-brew filter. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, Code Black has a small range of cakes/pastries.
I discovered Way Speciality Coffee Roasters in March, when I stopped in Ghent my way back from my trip to Amsterdam. European Coffee Trip led me to Way Coffee & Book Shop on Voldersstraat in the historic city centre, where I had a chance meeting with Ward, Way’s co-owner and head roaster, who invited me to the Way Roastery & Shop the following Monday (Way also has a bakehouse and café on Jakobijnenstraat 7 which I didn’t manage to visit).
Way Roastery & Shop is in Dok Noord, an old industrial complex that’s been redeveloped into a residential, office and leisure hub, a 25-minute walk or short tram ride north of the centre. Way occupies part of what was once a washing machine factory, housing a spacious café, showroom and roastery. Today’s Coffee Spot is all about the café, with the roastery featuring in its own Meet the Roaster feature in due course.
Way only roasts single-origins and is entirely plant-based (vegan). There’s a choice of the house espresso (from Brazil) plus a single-origin on espresso, along with two choices (Brazil plus another single-origin) on batch-brew filter and a wide selection on pour-over through the V60 or AeroPress.
Bread & Friends is a welcome addition to Portland’s speciality coffee scene, which opened in April this year in a lovely old brick building in the heart of downtown Portland (Maine). Although the location, on Fore Street, between Monument Square and the waterfront, is new, Bread & Friends has been around for a while, popping up at farmers’ markets around Maine, selling its artisan bread.
However, Fore Street is a whole new venture for Bread & Friends, which mills its own flour and bakes all the bread, pastries and cakes on site, selling them fresh each day from racks behind the counter. The four friends behind Bread & Friends could have stopped there, but inside they have added a coffee shop/brunch restaurant spread across two rooms which wrap around the on-site bakery. There’s also a row of tables outside on Fore Street.
This is no ordinary bakery café though. Rather than settle for the ordinary, Bread & Friends has created something amazing on Fore Street. The food is outstanding, while the coffee, from Bolt Coffee in Providence, is very bit as good, with the Seven Hills blend and decaf on espresso, joined by the Mass Appeal blend on batch-brew filter.
Regular readers know that I love a good market, so it’s fitting that today’s Saturday Short takes us to Chester, where the new Chester Market, part of the Northgate development, opened in November last year. And even better, from the Coffee Spot’s perspective, one of the founding tenants in none other than Bean & Cole, with the unit in the market joining the original coffee shop on Frodsham Street.
Bean & Cole occupies a simple counter towards the back of the new market, although you’re welcome to take your coffee to any of the market’s extensive seating areas, inside or out. Even better, the friendly baristas will bring your coffee to you and, what’s more, it will be served in a proper cup! Best of all, though, is the choice of beans, with Assembly on espresso, along with a guest roaster in the second hopper, while for filter, there’s a choice of pour-over or batch-brew (both from Square Mile during my visit). Finally, if you’re hungry, Bean & Cole has its usual range of cakes/pastries.
Joe Coffee is a well-established name in New York City speciality coffee circles, having opened its first coffee shop in the West Village in 2003. Since then, its opened more than 20 other locations in and around Manhattan, including a dedicated roastery/café in Long Island City. However, despite this proliferation, I’d not managed to pay Joe a visit until I stayed in Midtown for work last September, when I suddenly had several within easy walking distance of my office and hotel.
I ended up visiting two Joe Coffee locations, one on Union Square and the other, the Joe Coffee Pro Shop on W 21st Street, which is the subject of today’s Coffee Spot. This is something of a flagship store for Joe Coffee, a range of single-origins on espresso, pour-over (V60, Kalita Wave and AeroPress) and cold-brew joining the standard offering of the seasonal Waverly espresso blend, Nightcap decaf and batch brew filter. There’s also a rotating guest roaster (Broadsheet from Somerville, Massachusetts, during my visit). The Pro Shop offers a small grab-and-go range, along with cakes and pastries, all served from a neat little space with a handful of stools inside and a solitary bench outside on the pavement.
Although no longer a resident, I’m still very interested in Guildford’s speciality coffee scene. I was therefore sad to learn in March that an old favourite, Koja Coffee, had closed after a tumultuous year which saw it move from its original home on Jeffries Passage to New House, a recently-opened space for artists and creatives. However, every cloud has a silver lining and in May I was delighted to learn from Ben Barker that Frida’s Coffee House had opened in Koja’s place. Naturally, I visited the next time I was in Guildford.
If you were familiar with Koja, the set up is very similar, Frida’s occupying a counter inside the lobby to New House. There’s a similar offering too, with the Nom Nom blend from Hundred House along with Perky Blenders’ decaf on espresso, while Hundred House also supplies two single-origins, available as pour-overs through the V60. One change is that Frida’s offers a small range of toasted panini and savoury croissants, plus vegan sausage rolls and the usual selection of cakes/pastries.
When Amanda and I began our trip to Australia, we didn’t head for the coffee hotspots of Melbourne or Sydney, but instead found ourselves in Airlie Beach on the Queensland coast, 1,000 km north of Brisbane. Known as the gateway to the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef, we’d come for the natural beauty rather than the coffee, so you can imagine my surprise when, strolling along the main street on our first evening there, I spotted a Slayer espresso machine in a window.
The Slayer in question belongs to 3 Little Birds Espresso, which combines coffee, art and gifts. Opened in November 2021 by Tracey, Joan and Pauline, it’s a friendly spot which showcases locally made products and produce across two linked spaces. 3 Little Birds offers a simple, espresso-based menu with the coffee coming from Queensland roaster, Ground Control. There’s also a selection of tea and hot chocolate, along with various shakes and smoothies. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there are toasties and wraps, plus cakes, muffins and tarts for those with a sweet tooth.
My limited tour of Singapore’s speciality coffee scene has reached Fahrenheit Coffee, which, during my week in Singapore, was my third home-from-home, along with Narrative Coffee Stand and Pinhole Coffee Bar. Located on Beach Road, one block over from my hotel, I had my first speciality coffee in Singapore at Fahrenheit, while I was also a frequent visitor during the week, often calling in before the start of my meeting for a post-breakfast flat white.
Fahrenheit Coffee is in the lobby of the Spa Club, although it might be more accurate to say that Fahrenheit Coffee is the lobby. A broad, glass-fronted space, there’s a range of seating in the air-conditioned interior, while you can also sit outside at a pair of narrow tables on a shaded section of pavement, well set back from the road.
Fahrenheit offers a standard espresso-based menu, with a selection of single-origins on pour-over through the V60, all roasted by sister company, Community Coffee. If you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cakes and desserts, along with a limited breakfast menu.
Continuing my limited tour of Singapore’s speciality coffee scene, we have Pinhole Coffee Bar, which, along with Narrative Coffee Stand and Fahrenheit Coffee, was my home-from-home during my week in Singapore last month. Located on Purvis Street, it’s arguably closer to my hotel than Narrative, but I needed to cross the busy North Bridge Road to get there, so it took me longer. As a result, I visited (only slightly) less frequently.
Pinhole Coffee Bar is a relatively new addition to Singapore’s speciality coffee scene, having opened in November 2021. Long and thin, there’s a range of seating in the air-conditioned interior, including a bench along the right-hand wall, stools at the counter and a communal table tucked away at the back. You can also sit outside on a semi-shaded patio area at the front.
Typically Pinhole has a blend and single-origin on espresso, with anything up to six single-origins on pour-over through the V60. The coffee’s drawn from local Singapore roasters, Cata Coffee and Flip Coffee Roasters, which are joined on pour-over by a rotating guest roaster from further afield (Manta Ray Coffee Roasters from Melbourne during my visit). Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes.
Last month I spent a week in Singapore and, while not having much time to explore its fantastic speciality coffee scene, I did have the pleasure of visiting some excellent coffee shops. In particular, the trio of Fahrenheit Coffee, Pinhole Coffee Bar and today’s Coffee Spot, Narrative Coffee Stand, were all under five minutes’ walk from my workplace, making them natural homes-from-home during my visit.
Narrative Coffee Stand, on the ground floor of the Bras Basah Complex, is a relatively simple space, with limited seating in the air-conditioned interior or outside, where a handful of benches and stools are thankfully well shaded. However, the best seats in the house are, in my opinion, the two stools at the counter, where you can sit and watch your coffee being made.
Talking of which, the coffee, which is all roasted in-house, is the main draw. A typical offering consists of three single-origins on espresso and another three on pour-over through the V60. Naturally, given the climate, all are available iced as well as hot, along with a small collection of cakes if you are hungry. I visited every day during my week in Singapore, enabling me to try all six coffees on offer.