The Village Door

 

Although not evident during my visit to The Village Door (I found out later from their website), this cafe is trying to be different in arguably the most cafe-focused part of the region – Pakington Street, Geelong West. Opening in mid-December 2016, and located in the shop that used to be Warren and Hutch, they offer a different European theme on each week day they are open – Polish Tuesday, Hungarian Wednesday, German Thursday and Belgian Friday – with the menu reflecting that country on the particular day of the week.

The main part of the cafe is set up with some smaller tables and one community table (becoming quite the trendy thing to do, it seems) with an additional open room at the back containing couches and coffee tables. This back area seems an ideal location if you want to drink coffee in a quieter zone and read the paper or catch up on some work.

The coffee that I was given could best be described as “good”. Nothing outstanding, nothing amazing. Just good coffee. The staff were friendly enough and brought my coffee within a reasonable amount of time.

As I have said elsewhere, in such a competitive environment, you have to either be really good or offer something different. The European themed days provide that point of difference and I hope it works for them.

 

Address: 156 Pakington Street
Suburb: Geelong West 3218
Web Site: www.thevillagedoor.com.au
Telephone: 03 5221 1571
Open: Five days per week (closed Sunday and Monday)
Price: $3.50
Coffee Suppliers: Unknown
Headline: The Village Door is to be congratulated on trying to bring a new style of cafe to Pako Geelong West. Maybe one to try in a week or two when they have settled into their work a little better.
Coffee Rating: Three and a half stars
Stick-Around Factor: Four stars

For an explanation of “Stick-Around Factor”, click here or on the heading.

7 Seeds Cafe

 

This new cafe, self-described on their Facebook page as “new trendy cafe on pako geelong west, great atmosphere, gourmet breakfast and lunch with great coffee & we’re fully licensed too”, the cafe only started trading during the week before Christmas. I went to the cafe on two occasions, once just before Christmas by myself and then again more recently with a friend.

The first thing that concerned me on my first visit was, when my order was being placed, I was asked what size I wanted my coffee – I think I could have chosen from regular, large and jumbo (maybe not the correct names but certainly three options were provided). As I have said on SEVERAL occasions, you can probably get away with offering different sizes for milk-based coffees but, in my opinion, not for a long black. When I reiterated my order – a long black to have in the cafe, I had to point to the tulip cup to ensure that I received the correct size.

The first cup that came out was well-made and well-presented – good crema, good temperature and better than average flavour. The second cup that came out was a complete contrast – no crema, warm at best and tasted quite bitter. I understand that people were new and maybe mine had sat around for a while, maybe someone else had made the coffee. I found myself think a rating of four for the first and probably a two for the second cup.

On my second visit, my friend ordered a skinny piccolo. The coffee that was brought out was pretty much a milky latte – one that we suspect may have been made with full cream milk. When we discussed it with the waiter, he basically told us that she was wrong and that he would bring what she had subsequently described. He then proceeded to bring her a short macchiato and told her once again that she was wrong. Now, I have had coffee with this friend at about twenty different places and everywhere we have been, her piccolo order has generally looked exactly the same, with varying levels of milkiness and therefore, various levels of enjoyment for her. What she does know is the difference between a piccolo latte and a short macchiato. Having been told that she is wrong, she has declared that she won’t be going there again.

My two coffees on the second visit were once again inconsistent – this three weeks after the cafe opened. I would like to think that those inconsistencies would be ironed out soon to provide a more predictable coffee experience.

The other thing I felt – rightly or wrongly – was that they were keen to keep people moving and not to stick around for long. Maybe we were there at a busy time but we were asked to move twice to enable different table configurations to be created.

All in all, a great location in the heart of Pakington Street, Geelong West but with at least five or six other options within very easy walking distance – the consistency of the coffee and the interaction with customers who actually know what they want needs attention to enable good competition with the other locations around them.

 

Address: 208 Pakington Street
Suburb: Geelong West 3218
Web Site: www.facebook.com/pg/7-seeds-cafe-581357208722053
Telephone: 03 5229 2725
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Veneziano Coffee Roasters
Headline: Not to be confused with Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters and their cafes in Melbourne, this one appears to be a completely different company. Maybe unfair, given their recent opening, but disappointing on a few fronts.
Coffee Rating: Three and a half stars
Stick-Around Factor: Three stars

For an explanation of “Stick-Around Factor”, click here or on the heading.

9 Grams

 

Those of you who read my recent review of Southside in Newtown will know that it has become my highest rating cafe in the region. Today’s cafe is 9 Grams which is situated two doors north of Southside. If I am going to go to the trouble of driving to 343 Pakington Street, 9 Grams is going to have to be really, really good to coax me away from my new fave.

9 Grams is situated on a corner which gives it two walls of natural light with windows that open onto Pakington Street. You would describe the interior decor as trendy with concrete floor and modern furniture. If anything, I found the tables a bit close together which meant, with the cafe more than half full, the noise level was quite high, making it difficult to hold a conversation with the person I was drinking coffee with. Not an ideal place to go during coffee peak times if you want to get some quiet work done.

The food selection is quite varied which means that if you were to go there for breakfast or lunch, there would be something for everyone, regardless of their particular eating preferences.

I found that the coffee was well-made and better than average – and that is reflected in my rating below. But, will it be enough to drag me two doors north of a regular basis? Unfortunately, I have to be honest and say that I prefer both the coffee and environment at Southside but that’s not to say that you might find that you have a different preference. What it does mean is that there are two very good options available to you within a few metres of each other – that has major implications for parking on weekends and first thing in the morning. Factor that into your planning, won’t you.

PS: One thing I really did like about 9 Grams is that they charge less for black coffee – it has always puzzled me why cafes charge the same amount for coffee made with milk as coffee made without. The cost of milk must surely be factored into the price of milk-based coffees, mustn’t it?
 

Address: Shop 1, 343 Pakington Street
Suburb: Newtown 3220
Web Site: www.9gramscafe.com.au
Telephone: 03 5222 2716
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $3.20 – $3.80
Coffee Suppliers: Veneziano
Headline: Coffee was certainly better than average. I found the cafe too noisy for a quiet cup of coffee.
Coffee Rating: Four stars
Stick-Around Factor: Three and a half stars

For an explanation of “Stick-Around Factor”, click here or on the heading.

Sorry … have been busy

Well, hello and welcome to 2017. My most sincere apologies for appearing to be absent for much of the past twelve months. I had an opportunity to undertake some work in another part of this fine country and took the chance to spend some weekends in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide. That meant that on the odd occasion I was back in the homeland, I was without transport and much spare time. This resulted in the occasional review but not that many.

But, I am pleased to say, I am back here in the Geelong region and ready to take up the challenge of identifying the best coffee places in the region.

A quick cheerio to Lisa who sent me a nice note which included this:

[blockquote]”While I completely understand that the focus of your reviews is the quality of the coffee, would you consider adding a couple of other comments? These may seem peripheral, but for someone who likes to settle down in a cafe for a couple of hours, for coffee, and maybe brekky at the weekend, over the weekly paper, (sometimes with a sore head from overindulgence the previous night) … two key elements for me are that the seats are comfy (subjective, I know) and that if there is music, it is not thumping techno stuff that is going to make me want to do a runner before the order even gets taken. Like I said, I know this is not the focus of your mission, but it would be great if you would consider adding comments on these points.”[/blockquote]

I am going to take that suggestion a little further and provide a rating about how newspaper-friendly and work-friendly the location appears to be – I’ll call this the Stick-Around Factor. It will NOT affect the coffee rating – because, after all, this is a coffee review site not a cafe review site – but, where appropriate, a comment will also be included about how comfortable I would feel whipping out the newspaper or opening the laptop and sticking around for a while.

Thanks for the suggestion, Lisa!