Cartel Coffee Roasters (Breakwater) – Revisit


I visited the Cartel Coffee Roasters location in Breakwater in mid-August, having been told that this was, without question, one of the best places to consume coffee in the region. At that time, I was particularly unimpressed by just about everything about the experience – the way I was spoken to, the speed of service when it came to delivering my food and, most importantly in this context, the quality of the coffee I was served.

And so, for reasons of geographical convenience for a business associate, I went back to do the first of my Geelong Coffee Revisits – a re-review of a location that I had already been to.

If anything, this time I am going to give an even lower score than my last visit. Take a look at the photos below – the first one was how my coffee arrived on my first visit in August. The second photo shows today’s coffee.

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August 2015


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November 2015


As you can see, the crema in the second coffee is virtually non-existent. In my original review, I suggested that there was virtually no flavour in the coffee that was served. This time, it was a similar story but the flavour that was there was quite bitter and, frankly, difficult to drink. I chose not to make a fuss, given that primary purpose of the meeting was business, preferring to keep my associate in a good frame of mind.

What I can tell you, though, is this … the next time I visit the Cartel Coffee Roasters outlet in Breakwater, I’ll be having a soft drink – not the ideal endorsement for a cafe that specialises in coffee.


Link to previous review: Cartel Coffee Roasters – August 2015
Address: 7-13 Industrial Place
Suburb: Breakwater 3219
Web Site:
Telephone: 03 5222 6115
Open: Six days per week (closed Sundays)
Price: $4.50
Coffee Suppliers: Coffee cartel Roasters
Headline: Last time, I called my visit to Cartel Coffee Roasters a “really disappointing experience”. This time, the coffee was worse. For a cafe that specialises in coffee – it’s own brand and blend – well, there’s not much more to say.
Original Coffee Rating: lessthanthree
Revisit Coffee Rating: lessthanthree

Coffee Cartel Roasters – Breakwater


As I said in my review of the CBD version of Coffee Cartel Roasters, this particular brand had been talked up by friends who had heard I was moving to Geelong. I was told that a Geelong-focused coffee blog without both locations – CBD and Breakwater – would simply be ignoring the best coffee in Geelong.

So, given I was in the area, I visited the Breakwater roastery. Located in an industrial estate, surrounded by factories, Coffee Cartel is in a similar building and therefore, comes across as a workers cafeteria than an upmarket coffee shop. Approaching the counter, I was immediately put off by the insistence by the young chap behind the counter to refer to everyone as “man”. There’s something really off-putting about being greeted by “Hey man, how’s your day been”, regardless of gender.

ccartelThe overwhelming impression I got from my visit was that everyone was trying a bit too hard to be funky. As you will have seen elsewhere, I think that “funky” sometimes works but more often than not, it comes across as disingenuous and forced. Such was my experience at Coffee Cartel today.

But getting past that initial impression, I ordered some food and a long black coffee. The coffee arrived in a cup that was too big (grrr!!) and as a result, with a crema that was simply poor (don’t believe me? Check out the photo – that was taken immediately after the coffee was delivered). The flavour of the coffee was equally disappointing – there just wasn’t enough flavour. It was as though they had added a quarter shot of coffee and then a whole lot of hot water. For people who specialise in coffee – supposedly, Geelong’s leading roasters – this was really hard to understand.

After drinking my coffee, I then had to wait for another 20 minutes for my food. Recognising that this is not a food blog, it did make up part of the experience during my visit. Twenty minutes! Twenty minutes to poach two eggs and place them one piece of toast, cut in half. And as for the eggs, I could have bounced them on the floor a couple of times before eating them – almost hard-boiled rather than poached.

So, my advice to the team at Breakwater? Spend less time on trying to be funky and more time on getting the coffee right and reducing the wait time for food to a more acceptable period.

Really disappointing.


Address: 7-13 Industrial Place
Suburb: Breakwater 3219
Web Site:
Telephone: 5222 6115
Open: Six days per week (closed Sunday)
Price: $4.50
Coffee Suppliers: Coffee Cartel Roasters
Headline: A really disappointing experience with little to recommend it. Much prefer their CBD cafe. Don’t order food if you are in a hurry.
Coffee Rating: lessthanthree