Routley’s – North Geelong

 

It has been said that you can tell a lot about an Australian town or city by the quality of its locally made pies (well, it probably hasn’t been said except by me in the last sentence, but it’s a good observation, in my humble opinion). Most towns have the local bakery and the bigger cities have one or more, typically family-owned, bakeries that makes the signature pie for the area. and so it is with Geelong and Routley’s (incorporating other legendary Geelong brands, Hi-Lite Cakes and Beaumonts Pies). On my assessment of pies saying a lot about towns and cities, Routley’s makes a very good case for Geelong.

But this is Geelong Coffee and not Geelong Pies and so we turn our attention to the long black that I ordered with my steak and bacon pie.

The coffee was presented in a cup that was close enough to a tulip cup to be acceptable (not quite but close enough) and had a crema that on first inspection looked a little darker than I would expected. I, therefore, expected the coffee to be slightly burnt and over-cooked. But, in fact, the taste was more than acceptable – certainly on the stronger end of the flavour spectrum but not in an offensive way.

To be honest, part of the assessment relates the surroundings and in the case of Routley’s it is more canteen and less restaurant. While that in itself is not a problem, it comes with the need for you to find your own cutlery, condiments, etc. If you go to Routley’s for a pie (or one of their very nice-looking cakes or slices) and then order a coffee to go with it, you’re going to have a good experience. If you are going there only for coffee, there are going to places around the area that provide you with more than Routley’s provides.

 

Address: 322 Melbourne Road
Suburb: Geelong 3220
Web Site: www.routleysbakery.com.au
Telephone: 5278 9299
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $3.50
Coffee Suppliers: Ducale
Headline: Pies are always good. The coffee was good too. Certainly worth ordering a coffee with your pie. Wouldn’t necessarily go exclusively for the coffee though.
Coffee Rating: Three and a half stars

The Rio Coffee Lounge

 

In my visits to Geelong over the past few years, there has always been a couple of CBD corners that have struck me as being “the centre of Geelong”. One such corner is Gheringhap and Ryrie Streets. And on that corner, you will find The Rio Coffee Lounge.

In some ways, it has a kind of “yesteryear” feel to it. The font used on the window, the old-fashioned grill behind the counter. It just feels like you’ve stepped back to a time when Geelong was a big country town – but I digress

You know that things are not going to start off well when the person serving you asks what size you want your long black coffee in – small, regular or large. I opted for the small size, hoping that would provide me with something like the correct sized coffee. From it’s name, the implication was that the “regular” size is that most normal or popular cup size – and so it might be for milk-based coffees. I am glad that I chose the small, though – it was bigger than it should have been. I can only imagine what you would get if you selected a large.

With that grumble out of the way, I must say that the flavour of the coffee was pretty good. By my reckoning, this is the third time I have had Piazza D’Oro coffee and looking back at the posts on the other two occasions, this one is probably the best of the three. Having re-visited one of my four and a half star outlets yesterday (doesn’t get a write-up – only one review per cafe) and watched the barista measuring the beans to the gram before making the coffee – and making another really outstanding coffee – the hit and miss nature of many other cafes where you get “about the same” amount of coffee each time becomes evident.

Today’s wasn’t the worst coffee I have had in Geelong by any means – that said, it wasn’t the best either.

 

Address: 85 Ryrie Street
Suburb: Geelong 3220
Web Site: N/A
Telephone: 5229 7068
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $3.30
Coffee Suppliers: Piazza D’Oro
Headline: Can’t get much more Geelong than Gheringhap and Ryrie. Coffee certainly satisfactory but better options available within walking distance.
Coffee Rating: Three and a half stars

63 Degrees – Geelong West

 

This is one of two 63 Degrees cafes in Geelong – the other one is located in Highton. The Geelong West cafe has a good combination of inside and outside seating with in a reasonably central location in Pakington Street. Set back from the footpath, it gives the outside diners an opportunity to be out the front of the cafe, watching the world go by and providing the wonderful entertainment that is watching people trying to parallel park.

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My coffee was served in a tulip cup (hooray) and displayed a nice, golden crema. Given that the name of the cafe alludes to the popularly held view of the perfect coffee temperature, there was a bit of pressure to make sure that the coffee was indeed served at the correct temperature – I am pleased to say that it was!

Just a couple of observations that took away from my experience:

Firstly, I found the menu really difficult to read. In keeping with the seemingly endless need for cafes to try to be “cutting-edge funky”, the menu seemed to be a mish-mash of hash-tags and the really annoying, supposedly trendy habit of putting whole numbers in place of prices (see photo). Why do cafes and bars seem to think that writing 9.9 instead of $9.90 is going to make their menu more attractive and more informative? Throw in the occasional “V” for vegetarian, a “W” with a line over the top to mean “with” (why not write the whole word?) and overuse lower-case text instead of the traditional title case and the menu becomes really hard to read.

Secondly, why do cafes still allow smoking even in outdoor areas? Just as my breakfast arrived, the person at the next table lit up a cigarette. Now I get that the smokers of the world will say that they are being discriminated against and it’s their right to smoke in outdoor areas but that holds as much credence for me as me sitting at my table and cranking up a ghetto-blaster and playing offensive thrash metal music laced with expletives. Both are assaults on the senses of everyone else but I know which one would be shut down first. If you seriously feel the need to inhale poisonous chemicals, please do so in your own backyard. Interestingly, unlike many other cafes, 63 Degrees have a ban on dogs in their outdoor dining area, presumably because of health reasons. And yet people are allowed to smoke …

Notwithstanding, these two observations, the coffee was really good and the ambience very acceptable. Give it a try.

 

Address: 140 Pakington Street
Suburb: Geelong West 3218
Web Site: www.63degrees.com.au
Telephone: 5222 2889
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $3.50
Coffee Suppliers: Roastcraft
Headline: Really good coffee. Good indoor and outdoor seating. Menu really hard to read. Good experience overall
Coffee Rating: Four stars

10 sq M

 

You are going to be lucky to stumble over 10 sq M. It is located in a small space (presumably 10 square metres of space) in an arcade off Ryrie Street in the Geelong CBD. And when I say that you’ll be lucky to stumble over it, I really mean it.

Whilst my coffee wasn’t strictly served in a tulip cup, the capacity of the cup and the top surface area were virtually the same, meaning that concerns relating to temperature and crema were not a problem. As it was, the crema was just about perfect and the temperature ideal. I must say that the flavour was also as good as anything else that I have tasted on this journey.

One of the great things about 10 sq M is that it supports my theory that you don’t have to be “just like a Melbourne cafe” to be great. This is uniquely Geelong – a small space off the main street of the CBD, serving locals and tourists alike, serving excellent coffee. No loud music, no hipster jargon, no “energizer bunny” over-the-top people behind the counter – just good coffee and an opportunity to chat with someone who actually understands coffee.

If I had to be critical, the location is a bit dark and dingy being in an arcade. Natural sunlight is not in plentiful supply. As a result, at this time of the year, I’d recommend one extra layer of clothing, particularly if you are sitting on one of the stools in the arcade itself. Also, given its limited real estate, there is only space for six people in the cafe itself, with another three or four seats at the counter in the arcade. Therefore, it’s probably not the best place to include on the end of season footy trip.

It is understated and it serves good coffee. What is there not to like about 10 sq M?

 

Address: Unit 2, 124 Ryrie Street
Suburb: Geelong 3220
Web Site: www.facebook.com/10sqM
Telephone: N/A
Open: Six days per week (closed Sunday)
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Sensory Lab Specialty Coffee
Headline: Hidden away up an arcade between Ryrie Street and the car park. It is really well worth taking the time to find it. Bring something warm to wear.
Coffee Rating: Four and a half stars

Le Fournil French Bakery

 

As the name would suggest, Le Journal French Bakery is a great place to go if you are looking for great French pastries, both sweet and savoury. They stock a range of pre-filled baguettes as well as a range of other delicacies for you to enjoy while sitting in the shop or to take home with you.

Unfortunately, it seems that their coffee is bit of an after-thought. Even the orientation of the shop indicates where coffee sits amongst their priorities – whereas in most cafes, the coffee machine is sitting front and centre on their counter, the coffee machine at Le Fournil sits at the back of the behind-counter area, allow customers see the full range of their bakery items.

The long black was served in a cappuccino cup with a very thin crema. Whilst the taste of the coffee was OK, it definitely lacked any “body”. A good long black coffee should leave you with a memorable after-taste for a period of time – this left virtually no after-taste.

So, based on the other options in the immediate area, I’m only ranking Le Fournil as a three-star coffee. That said, their coffee might just be what you are looking to have as an accompaniment to some very impressive food options.

 

Address: 90 Pakington Street
Suburb: Geelong West 3218
Web Site: www.lefournilfrenchbakery.com.au
Telephone: 4208 0754
Open: Five days per week (closed Monday and Tuesday)
Price: $3.50
Coffee Suppliers: Org by Douwe Egberts
Headline: A lovely little French bakery and cafe in Geelong West. Food looks amazing. Coffee not their strong suit.
Coffee Rating: Three stars