They (whoever “they” are) say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Well, here’s a new take – you shouldn’t judge a cafe by its location and appearance. I have driven past Little Boot Cafe several times and, to be blunt, didn’t even know the cafe was there. With the cafe forming part of a convenience store corner, and the walls covered in what I’d describe as street art (I don’t think I am being unfair – I don’t know how to otherwise describe it), you’d be forgiven for thinking that there are other better places for coffee.
But, having been invited to visit the Little Boot Cafe by the owner, I felt that I had better sneak in when they weren’t looking and check it all out.
And I was very pleasantly surprised.
I was offered the choice between the house blend and the single origin and chose the latter. It was really good coffee. I took the opportunity to have a bite to eat as well and whilst the food options aren’t that broad, my meal was pretty darn good as well.
To be honest, the decor, the location and the building’s exterior are not really my preferred style but this is a coffee review web site not a decorator’s guide. If you are driving past and you are looking for a nice cup of coffee, give the Little Boot Cafe a run – you won’t be disappointed.
|Address:||Unit 1, 67-69 Separation Street|
|Suburb:||Geelong North 3215|
|Telephone:||0415 118 909|
|Open:||Six days per week (closed Sunday)|
|Headline:||To be honest, a big surprise in Geelong North. Give it a try!|
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|
|Open:||Seven days per week|
|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.|
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|
|Open:||Seven days per week|
|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.|
Danger Will Robinson
You should know before reading any further that The Pickers Union Cafe is located in a collection vintage / retro / antique warehouses in North Geelong. I went there to buy a coffee and ended spending about two hours walking through the adjoining warehouses, looking at any number of wonderful retro items. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you …
But back to The Pickers Union Cafe and my cup of coffee.
The first thing that you notice when you walk into the relatively small cafe (seats maybe 30 people inside and another ten or so outside) is the retro / hipster feel of the venue. The guys behind the counter certainly look the part with a few too many piercings, tattoos and beards for my liking – that said, it does fit the image of the cafe. The kitchen, for what it is, operates behind the counter as well, so there does seem to be an overabundance of staff. Another thing I noticed when I ordered my coffee was the large number of loyalty cards in the cardholder on the counter – that usually indicates a high level of patronage from regular customers.
Once again, the coffee was presented in the large cappuccino bowl cup that appears to have become the norm in this part of town. Why can’t we use a standard tulip cup for long black coffees? All in all, though, the coffee tasted pretty good. When I got up to leave, I looked back towards the other side of the cup and there it was – red lipstick!!!. Yuk. Clearly, the previous person had been a left-handed, lipstick wearer and when (presumably) she had given the cup back, it had only been 90% washed. Did I say yuk?
The score immediately dropped from 4 star to less than 3. That is careless, lazy and, dare I say, unhygienic. I know that this was an accident and I know that the dishwasher they use usually does a good job and I know that in 99.5% of all cases, the cup is 100% clean. And that’s great for 99.5% of people, I guess.
Up until that moment, The Pickers Union Cafe had been on track for a four-star rating. A lack of attention to detail and hygiene has seen them score badly. Will I go back? Probably, but I’ll be closely inspecting the cup before I drink from it.
|Address:||3 Mackey Street|
|Suburb:||North Geelong 3215|
|Telephone:||0447 531 844|
|Open:||Six days per week (closed Monday)|
|Coffee Suppliers:||Cartel Coffee|
|Headline:||A little bit “Hipster Central”. Was enjoying my coffee until I noticed the lipstick on the cup. Grrr!|