Darriwill Farm

 

Darriwill Farm is more than a cafe – it is also a retail store that stocks a wide range of their own brand gourmet foods, wines, gifts and kitchen equipment. The cafe is housed in a separate adjacent shop, with internal access between the shops. In keeping with its gourmet selection, the cafe also provides an interesting menu boasting what they describe as “wholesome food with a fancy twist”.

The warning bells started to ring when I placed my coffee order – I was asked whether I wanted that in a mug or a up (never a good sign for a long black). After requesting a cup, my coffee was presented in a cup that was neither tulip nor cappuccino. The shape was more along the lines of a traditional tea cup with a large diameter top narrowing down to being a quite small circumference at the bottom. As a result, with the top surface being so big, the crema was thin and the coffee cooled quickly.

That said, though, the taste was actually pretty good. I have had some bad experiences with Gravity-branded coffee but this one tasted all right. Certainly not “wow material but certainly good enough to be considered as a regular local cafe if you are in the Highton area.

Not a bad spot to go if you need to buy a gift and a coffee in the same trip!

 

Address: Shop 10-11, 65-71 Barrabool Road
Suburb: Highton 3216
Web Site: www.darriwillfarm.com.au
Telephone: 5241 2933
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $3.90
Coffee Suppliers: Gravity
Headline: Good coffee without being great. Good spot to have a regular local cafe.
Coffee Rating: Three and a half stars

Fifty up! The first big milestone.

 

Well, after visiting 50 different coffee venues around Geelong and the surrounding district, the time has come to look back on what we’ve learned. As has been indicated in other places around the site, this is not an empirical approach to analysing cafes and coffee in Geelong – it is simply one person’s opinion of, so far, 50 coffee venues around the district, based on a single visit to each. Where I have made an ensuing visit, I have not ranked them or reviewed them – that would unfair on those who didn’t get a second chance.

So, some stats. You can look at the footer of any page in the site to see the distribution of ratings. The weighted average of these ratings gives a score of 3.42 stars. There are six cafes that score 4.5 – these translate to significantly about average. They are in chronological order – that is, the order in which I visited them:

Of all of the areas around town, the highest average rating per suburb / town (only those that I have reviewed more than once – single visit areas weren’t included) were Torquay (average 4.5) and Newtown (average 4.2). The lowest average for areas that I visited more than once were Geelong North (average 2.5), Belmont (average 2.67) and Corio (average 2.75).

So what have I learnt?

Well, for starters, there are a lot more cafes and other coffee venues in Geelong than most people realise. I think people find somewhere that they like and keep going back time after time. Whilst that’s understandable, it means that as a new resident, I’ve probably visited 48 or 49 more cafes in the past three months that most people who I speak to! There are some very good coffee shops and there are some that are not very good. Hopefully, I’ve helped to identify somewhere new for you to try.

I have learned that only 38% of coffee shops know which cup to serve a long black in. Full points to them. No points to the cafe employees who have asked whether I want that in a cup or a mug.

And probably the most important thing I have learned is that the Geelong Coffee culture is alive and very well but suffering from a massive dose of low self-esteem. This whole “Just like a Melbourne cafe” concept is demeaning and, frankly, really silly. If I want to visit a cafe that is “just like a Melbourne cafe”, I’ll take a 45 minute train ride and find a cafe that EXACTLY like a Melbourne cafe. Let’s focus on developing cafes in Geelong that are fun, comfortable, funky, family-focused, edgy, hip, old-fashioned – whatever – but something that we can and should be very proud of.

Now for the next fifty!

 

Cafe Go

 

Today represents the 50th (yes, 50th) review I have done for www.geelong.coffee and so I was really hopeful of landing something special – and I did!

Cafe Go is located in what looks like a renovated milk bar / corner shop on the corner of Little Malop Street. The first thing that I noticed (acknowledging the fact that it was lunchtime) was the significant number of people who were eating in or standing in the queue waiting for their take away.

That’s generally a good sign!

I ordered my coffee and something to eat and sat myself down at a bench in the front window of the cafe. The food, whilst relatively simple, was really good and then to top it off the coffee was really, really good. It was served with a perfect crema in a tulip cup, with an aroma and a taste that was as good as any of the 50 coffees that I have tried during the past three months. It was good enough to tempt me to award the first five star rating – but in the end, I pulled back for two reasons. Firstly, if anything, the music was a fraction too loud and was more along the lines of a dance club than a cafe (am I getting old?). Secondly, if I did award five stars, what happens if I stumble over something better?

So, four and a half stars – almost four and three quarters – for Cafe Go. Well worth a visit if you’re in town – just don’t tell too many people!

 

Address: 37 Bellerine Street
Suburb: Geelong 3220
Web Site: www.cafego.com.au
Telephone: 5229 4752
Open: Six days per week (closed Sunday)
Price: $3.60
Coffee Suppliers: Coffee Snobs
Headline: Wow. Nice to think that on review number 50, I’d strike gold. Great coffee. Funky environment without it being exaggerated and staged. One of the best I’ve found.
Coffee Rating: Four and a half stars

Zen Cafe Bakery

 

Zen Cafe Bakery is located right in the heart of the Belmont Shopping Centre and is obviously favourite spot for the locals to eat lunch and grab a coffee. The cafe specialises in pies, cakes and other baked goodies and so, it would appear, coffee comes a distant second behind the food.

Zen Cafe BakeryI know that it sounds a bit “coffee snobbish” to talk about the whole coffee experience (at least I don’t talk about the flavours of citrus fruit and jasmine!!) but I like my coffee experience to include a positive interaction with a least three of my senses, if not more – it needs to look good, smell great and taste magnificent to be a really positive experience for me. To me, the easiest to get right is the look of the coffee – the smell and taste of the coffee are the things that baristas constantly try to perfect. But have a look at the photo on the right – the crema is not the right colour (very light in colour and in parts almost transparent), the saucer is chipped and there is coffee spilt down the side of the cup. What is not obvious from the photo is that the spoon didn’t look all that clean either. As a “black coffee, no sugar” kind of person, I didn’t need to use the spoon – had I needed to, I would have asked for another.

So, with the whole law of “first impressions count” running through my head, I was already on the back foot before I checked out the aroma and taste of the coffee. Both were OK but nothing to get excited about, to be honest.

Without wanting to be drowned out by cries of “coffee snob” or worse, I suspect that if you are OK with an almost transparent crema, a chipped saucer, spills down the side of the cup and a dirty teaspoon, you’re probably going to be OK with the flavour of the coffee as well. Unfortunately for the good folks at Zen Cafe Bakery, I’m not that sort of person.

Our next review will be, believe it not, review number 50! As part of getting to that milestone, we are going to look at some key stats in a separate post. Make sure that you look out for that special report.

 

Address: 153 High Street
Suburb: Belmont 3216
Web Site: Not available
Telephone: 5244 1488
Open: Six days per week (closed Sunday)
Price: $3.40
Coffee Suppliers: Gravity
Headline: Coffee OK but presentation disappointing. Plenty of nice things to eat though.
Coffee Rating: lessthanthree

A Spot For Joe

 

The great Geelong Coffee search wound up back in the Little Ryrie Street Car Park today – this time at A Spot For Joe.And based on what I have found so far in the three cafes I have tried within that specific car park precinct, A Spot For Joe wins the “coffee-off” by the slightest of margins from Bear and Bean.

The coffee was served in the right cup and, if I was being critical, the temperature was slightly lower than what I prefer. The taste, though, was good and the crema better than adequate. The environment itself is pleasant enough with a kind of industrial edge. Their “gimmick” is the addition of three Smarties, presented in the teaspoon when your coffee arrives. This works OK in the “drink here” cups – it works less well when you get a take away (the Smarties sit on the plastic cup top and can melt if you don’t eat them straightaway).

Finally, a criticism that doesn’t count against the coffee experience and so, doesn’t effect the star rating. On the Facebook page, the folk at A Spot For Joe claim that they are “bringing that Melbourne / New York feel to Geelong for everyone to enjoy”. I know what they are trying to say but as I have said in my previous post – “What do you mean – just like a Melbourne cafe”. If we are serious about making Geelong a really good coffee destination, we have to lose the implied inferiority complex. Who cares what they do in Melbourne or New York – let’s create “what they do in Geelong” #justsaying.

 

Address: 33 Little Ryrie Street
Suburb: Geelong 3220
Web Site: www.facebook.com/pages/A-spot-for-joe/181196185286290
Telephone: 0451 419 855
Open: Six days per week (closed Sunday)
Price: $3.50
Coffee Suppliers: Unknown
Headline: Hidden away from obvious view. Converted warehouse feel. Coffee very good.
Coffee Rating: Four stars