House Iberia

 

Another day, another suburb and today, we head off to Manifold Heights, or as some might call it West Geelong West!

I have been to House Iberia before and for whatever reason, didn’t have coffee during that visit. What I do remember was the friendly environment and the really good food that was served. But this is a coffee blog and so, today, we try out their coffee.

Unfortunately, my long black this morning was rather disappointing, so much so that, for the second time in the twenty reviews I have done on Geelong Coffee, I was unable to finish drinking my coffee.

Once again, my coffee was served in a cappuccino bowl cup (see my Cups page for more detail) – which, as has been said elsewhere NUMEROUS times, for a number reasons, creates high levels of likelihood that it will contain poor coffee. Today’s presentation suggested that the additional 100mls (the difference in volume between a cappuccino bowl and a tulip cup) consisted of over-brewing the shots of coffee and, most likely, additional hot water. The crema was fractured which, as has been said in other reviews, is the first giveaway that the coffee will disappoint. And it did.

If you live in the Manifold Heights area and are looking for a cafe that you can stroll to for breakfast on a Sunday morning, House Iberia is very local and for the most part a good place to spend some time. Unfortunately, if your primary requirement is a great cup of coffee, I think you might need to get the car keys out and go for a drive.

 

Address: 137 Shannon Avenue
Suburb: Manifold Heights 3218
Web Site: www.houseiberia.com.au
Telephone: 5222 3567
Open: Six days per week (closed Monday)
Price: $3.80
Coffee Suppliers: Unknown
Headline: Spanish influenced menu and light and bright environment. Unfortunately, coffee lets them down.
Coffee Rating: lessthanthree

The Pickers Union Cafe

 

Danger Will Robinson

You should know before reading any further that The Pickers Union Cafe is located in a collection vintage / retro / antique warehouses in North Geelong. I went there to buy a coffee and ended spending about two hours walking through the adjoining warehouses, looking at any number of wonderful retro items. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you …

But back to The Pickers Union Cafe and my cup of coffee.

The first thing that you notice when you walk into the relatively small cafe (seats maybe 30 people inside and another ten or so outside) is the retro / hipster feel of the venue. The guys behind the counter certainly look the part with a few too many piercings, tattoos and beards for my liking – that said, it does fit the image of the cafe. The kitchen, for what it is, operates behind the counter as well, so there does seem to be an overabundance of staff. Another thing I noticed when I ordered my coffee was the large number of loyalty cards in the cardholder on the counter – that usually indicates a high level of patronage from regular customers.

Once again, the coffee was presented in the large cappuccino bowl cup that appears to have become the norm in this part of town. Why can’t we use a standard tulip cup for long black coffees? All in all, though, the coffee tasted pretty good. When I got up to leave, I looked back towards the other side of the cup and there it was – red lipstick!!!. Yuk. Clearly, the previous person had been a left-handed, lipstick wearer and when (presumably) she had given the cup back, it had only been 90% washed. Did I say yuk?

The score immediately dropped from 4 star to less than 3. That is careless, lazy and, dare I say, unhygienic. I know that this was an accident and I know that the dishwasher they use usually does a good job and I know that in 99.5% of all cases, the cup is 100% clean. And that’s great for 99.5% of people, I guess.

Up until that moment, The Pickers Union Cafe had been on track for a four-star rating. A lack of attention to detail and hygiene has seen them score badly. Will I go back? Probably, but I’ll be closely inspecting the cup before I drink from it.

 

Address: 3 Mackey Street
Suburb: North Geelong 3215
Web Site: www.facebook.com/thepickersunion
Telephone: 0447 531 844
Open: Six days per week (closed Monday)
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Cartel Coffee
Headline: A little bit “Hipster Central”. Was enjoying my coffee until I noticed the lipstick on the cup. Grrr!
Coffee Rating: lessthanthree

Kilgour Street Grocer and Cafe

 

Kilgour Street Grocer and Cafe is one of those small standalone shops in the inner suburbs of Geelong that has shades of West Perth, Kirribilli and Footscray about it. Situated on the corner of Swanston Street, it is close enough to the Geelong CBD and South Geelong station to be easily accessible, without the hassle of central city parking.

The store itself looks like it might have been two separate shops in the past with one now dedicated to tables and chairs and the other providing the counter, coffee machine and fridge, displaying cold drinks, light meals (e.g. focaccia) and delicious looking biscuits and cakes. We ordered our coffees and went and sat in the main seating area, noting that most tables were occupied (a good sign) and that Jack Johnson music was being played over the PA (a good choice).

So far, so good.

When the coffee arrived, my first impression was that the seemingly accepted Geelong behaviour of serving the coffee in a cappuccino bowl cup was upheld once again – great for cappuccino, not great for long blacks. The coffee itself seemed to be a little “overdone”, if that makes sense – almost like how dripolater coffee tastes after it has been sitting on the hotplate for too long. This resulted in quite a bitter taste and, therefore, an unenjoyable cup of coffee.

I found this really disappointing because, with everything else that I saw, I think it has the potential to become a really great location for coffee here in South Geelong. The cafe has only been open since November 2014 and so, the KSG&C team might have been finding their feet up until this point. I think, though, that with some solid barista training and additional experience, this could become something of a favourite location for me.

Typically, a two star rating results in me running away and never coming back but this one feels different. I’m going to give it a few months and go back – I’ll be interested to see how much it has improved in that time.

 

Address: 164 Kilgour Street (cnr Swanston Street)
Suburb: Geelong South 3220
Web Site: www.kilgourstreetgrocer.com
Telephone: 0439 683 220
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $3.50
Coffee Suppliers: Cartel Coffee
Headline: Great location. Nice, light, fresh cafe setting. Food looks both healthy and delicious. Disappointing coffee, unfortunately.
Coffee Rating: lessthanthree

Cafe Botticelli

 

Cafe Botticelli is located in a small shopping strip is suburban Herne Hill. My guess is that 30 years ago, this little strip of shops would have consisted of a small supermarket, two milk bars, a butcher, a greengrocers, a post office, a hairdresser, a sub-newsagency and a chemist. Like all similar shopping strips, they have been changed dramatically by the advent of the major supermarkets and shopping malls that now dominant the retail landscape. As a result, these areas are now typically housing a couple of small, start-up businesses, maybe a couple of professional services firms, maybe what we used to call a “hot bread shop” and a couple of cafes.

Cafe Botticelli is one such cafe and seems to be less of a special “one-off” location and more the sort of place that you’d see the same people day after day. It seems like a really friendly environment where people might go after dropping the kids off at school each day. The decor is kind of funky, kind of retro in a understated way. The level of chatter and laughter when I was there suggests that this is a place where the regulars really like to be.

From a coffee perspective, it seemed to line up with the whole vibe – nothing startlingly amazing but the kind of coffee that you’d be happy enough to share with friends three or four days per week. If I were to become a regular, I would invest in my own cup – a proper coffee cup. It has been said before but I’ll say it again – what is it about Geelong coffee drinkers that encourages cafes to serve long black coffees in large cappuccino cups? And if that’s not enough, my option is to pay and additional thirty or forty cents and get a mug. I get it that people who have 2/3 milk and 1/3 coffee can afford to have these large cups. I don’t get it that all coffees – milk or otherwise – can only be served in these buckets. I wonder what they serve their espressos in?

Is the best coffee I’ve found in Geelong? No. Would I go back to Cafe Botticelli? Probably. If I lived in Herne Hill (and maybe I do!), would I be comfortable making it my default cafe? Sure.

 

Address: 7 Minerva Road
Suburb: Herne Hill 3218
Web Site: www.cafebotticelli.com.au
Telephone: 03 5229 8292
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $3.90
Coffee Suppliers: Holy Goat
Headline: Funky meets retro meets suburban cafe in small shopping strip. The kind of place where regulars would enjoy meeting.
Coffee Rating: Three and a half stars

Alfie’s Cafe

 

Food court coffee – the phrase that should send shivers down your spine for all the wrong reasons.

I was shopping at the Waurn Ponds Shopping Centre this morning and spotted Alfie’s Cafe as I walked through their food court. The first thing that caught my attention was the fact that there seemed to be a bit of life about the place – people coming and going, smiling faces behind the coffee counter and the like.

Having made it through till 9:45am without a coffee, I was caught between grabbing a FCC (yep, a food court coffee) or waiting until I got out of the shopping centre to find another option. In the end, dear reader, I decided that, whilst not expecting the best cup of coffee in the region, an FCC might be an appropriate option for the purposes of research, if nothing else. And, I must say, I was pleasantly surprised

I ordered my coffee which was brought to my table in a proper sized cup at just the right temperature. My table had the required sugar, salt and pepper (yes, they have a good range of light meals, cakes, toast, etc, all of which looked pretty good) and cutlery – take note those of you who feel that it is better to provide these things by request only.

And so, to the coffee – it smelt good and, I must say, it tasted quite good. If anything, it lacked a bit of body – a kind of shallow taste – but very, very acceptable. Time played against me having a second cup but I would have otherwise been more than happy to order another – that seems to be a good measure of its acceptability.

So, one to file away under “don’t judge a book by its cover” – not all FCC’s taste like FCC’s. If you need to pause during your weekly shop to re-energise, you could do significantly worse than Alfie’s Cafe at Waurn Ponds.

 

Address: Shop 976, Waurn Ponds Shopping Centre
173 – 199 Pioneer Road
Suburb: Waurn Ponds 3216
Web Site: www.facebook.com/alfiesgeelong
Telephone: 0422 332 222
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $4.20
Coffee Suppliers: Unknown
Headline: Food court cafe that serves coffee that doesn’t taste like food court coffee. Food looks good too.
Coffee Rating: Four stars