Wild Bean Cafe

 

I feel a bit nasty when I am writing reviews for drive through cafes – they are never going to be able to compete with expert baristas in nice cafes. To account for that handicap, I have created a new category in the menu up top called “Drive Thrus” to allow them to stand alone. They will still be scored against the other coffees in town but will at least be categorised by themselves.

Wild Bean Cafe is a BP brand and the cafes, such as they are, are located inside BP service stations. The lady who made my coffee this morning was also running the entire site – she was recording pump readings when I got to the counter and then had to contend with my coffee and the three people in the queue wanting to pay for their fuel.

As you can imagine the coffee wasn’t really that good – and that’s not a reflection on the poor woman whose job it is to make coffee plus attend to everything else that was going on in the store and on the forecourt.

At least with others like Bean Squeeze (which happens to be next door), they are entirely focused on their coffee, even if it is drive thru.

 

Address: 310 Melbourne Road
Suburb: North Geelong 3215
Web Site: Not available
Telephone: Not available
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $3.80
Coffee Suppliers: Unknown
Headline: Coffee was pretty ordinary. If you need a take away coffee when you are buying petrol, it is better than nothing – but only just.
Coffee Rating: lessthanthree

Inverleigh Bakehouse

 

I must confess that if I have ever passed through Inverleigh before, I must have done just that – passed through Inverleigh, a small settlement located (unsurprisingly) on the banks of the Leigh River. Located on the Hamilton Highway (known locally as High Street – original!), the township only boasts a few small businesses including the Inverleigh Bakehouse.

The Inverleigh Bakehouse is located in an old cottage-like building immediately adjacent to the pub. Stepping inside the bakehouse and ordering the coffee, it is hard to imagine that you are only 20km from Geelong and that the year is 2016. It really is very rural and very old-school. But that’s the charm of the establishment!

Food options were plentiful – think country bakery and you’ve pretty much got the menu. I think I was the only one in the shop that wasn’t addressed by name (there goes my anonymity!). But, at the end of the day, this is a coffee review site and that’s what I want to tell you about.

Good coffee. Really good coffee. Better than I expected, to be honest. Whilst I have certainly had better coffee elsewhere, this is certainly up in four-star territory. Is it worth the drive from Geelong out to Inverleigh for the sake of the coffee? Probably not, but with the addition of a steak and mushroom pie or a vanilla slice, it’s a no-brainer – out past the ring road on the Hamilton Highway (Aberdeen Street) and keep driving till you cross the river. You’ll find it next to the pub on the left.

See you there!

 

Address: High Street
Suburb: Inverleigh 3321
Web Site: www.facebook.com/inverleighbakehouse
Telephone: 03 5265 1555
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $3.80
Coffee Suppliers: Unknown
Headline: Great coffee. Great bakery items. Lovely setting. What is there not to like at the Inverleigh Bakehouse?
Coffee Rating: Four stars

Winifred’s Corner Shop

 

Winifred’s Corner Shop has only been open since February 2016 and from what I can see seems to started to attract a steady stream of regular clients. I visited this location in October last year when it was under different management and it was, quite simply, awful. At that time, I think I might have said that its location – directly across the road from one of Geelong’s most beautiful outdoor venues – would lend itself to a major facelift.

Well, that has been done. The shop seems lighter and brighter than before with new furniture, highly polished timber flooring and happy people working and/or consuming coffee there. If anything, there is a bit of an echo now due to the decor but that’s more than OK.

The food offerings are relatively limited but I must tell you that the breakfast roll was quite outstanding. The coffee was also very good – good crema, solid flavour and … the correct cup! Maybe I am starting to win that battle!

So, if you have been thinking about whether to go and visit the all-new and improved cafe on the corner of Garden and Malop, do it. I think you’ll enjoy the experience

 

Address: 26 Garden Street (corner Malop Street)
Suburb: Geelong 3220
Web Site: www.facebook.com/Winifreds-Corner-Shop-1522510061378613
Telephone: Not available
Open: Six days per week (closed Monday)
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Org
Headline: A significant improvement on the previous cafe at this location. Clean and bright with great coffee but limited food options.
Coffee Rating: Four stars

Uncle Jack’s Cafe

 

Uncle Jack’s Cafe has been established in 2015 in the old Ocean Grove Corner Store on the corner of Hodgson Street and The Terrace. Having served the town as a general store for over 100 years, the new owners have converted the store into a cafe, maintaining some of the existing ambience whilst modernising the surroundings. One of the features of the cafe is the glass floor over the top of the old cellar. The area underneath has been converted to a garden providing some greenery right in the middle of the floorspace.

From an interior design and restoration perspective, I really like what they have done. The menu looks like it would be a good place to eat too but the coffee … well, I felt a little let down.

The coffee was served in a cappuccino cup (and you know how much I like that) and, as is generally the case when this occurs, the crema was fractured. I would described the coffee as good rather than anything more than that and given the effort that has been made to get the venue looking as good as it is, that was disappointing. I suspect that, having just gone through their first summer in the cafe, the owners would have been run off their feet for the last few months. Now that they have settled back into “normal” life, I think that they should make the quality of their coffee their focus.

 

Address: 82 The Terrace (Trak Arcade)
Suburb: Ocean Grove 3226
Web Site: www.unclejackscafe.com.au
Telephone: 03 5256 3735
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Unknown
Headline: Fantastic venue in an iconic Ocean Grove building and in a prominent location. Given the amount of work that has gone into restoring the building, the coffee was a little disappointing.
Coffee Rating: Three and a half stars

Dear White Hart

 

Dear White Hart is located in an arcade off the main street of Ocean Grove with plenty of parking in the shopping centre car park behind the building. The shop itself is an unusual shape due to the shape of the arcade and its location in it. An associate and I sat out the front of the cafe, using one of three or four two-seat tables that are provided.

The coffee was served in the correct cup and displayed a good crema – so far so good! The flavour was also really good.

My only criticism relates to the size of the cafe – not only is it quite small but it gave me a slight feeling of claustrophobia. Sitting outside was certainly preferable but then we were subjected to a fair amount of foot traffic because the arcade is used by many as the cut-through between car park and main street of Ocean Grove.

It does lead to something of a dilemma, faced by many cafe owners. The cafe is small and therefore can become quite cramped, quite quickly. But is that part of what makes it appealing? If the owners suddenly decided to move to a much larger facility, would the cafe lose some of the intimacy that makes it a nice cafe?

Fortunately, I only have to taste and comment on their coffee and not provide them with a five year business plan! Either way, if you are in Ocean Grove, stop off at Dear White Hart and I think you’ll be pleased with the coffee they serve to you.

 

Address: 5/73 The Terrace (Trak Arcade)
Suburb: Ocean Grove 3226
Web Site: www.facebook.com/whitehartcoffeebar
Telephone: Not available
Open: Six days per week (closed Sunday)
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Padre
Headline: Very small location in an off-street arcade. Coffee really good. Seems to be really popular with the locals which is always a good sign.
Coffee Rating: Four stars