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.

Fika & Co On Pako

 

This is the first time we have reviewed a cafe that shares an address with a previous review. This location was formerly home to Fabretto Bros, which closed its doors earlier this year to relocate as Secret Society further south in Pakington Street. In that incarnation, the cafe was small and had very limited seating.

As Fika and Co, the new owners have pushed the back wall further back and probably tripled the amount of cafe space. This has changed the entire vibe of the location – what was once a place to go and buy a take away coffee, it is now a place where people can sit and chat whilst drinking their coffee. In fact, the name Fika and Co comes from a Swedish word that supports that new approach.

Despite being relatively new and still finding their feet, the coffee at Fika and Co is really good. As I have said in previous reviews, if you don’t make outstanding coffee in an environment like Pako, you are going to struggle.

Smooth flavour, great crema, correct temperature, correct cup … hard to give it any other rating really!

 

Address: 16 Pakington Street
Suburb: Geelong West 3218
Web Site: www.facebook.com/FIKA-CO-ON-PAKO-592071830961111
Telephone: 03 5221 5271
Open: Five days per week (closed Saturday and Sunday)
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Unknown
Headline: Only open since late June, they have changed the entire vibe in what was another coffee venue. More space and more variety than previous incarnation. And really good coffee to boot.
Coffee Rating: Four and a half stars

Secret Society

 

Secret Society has only been open a few days and, I must report, the teething problems were pretty evident when I visited earlier today. Formerly operating further up Pakington Street as Fabretto Brothers, the major difference between the two stores is the inclusion of a kitchen. The seating capacity has also been increased – probably doubled in size.

I wouldn’t have laid the store out like they have – the counter is on the right as you walk in the door (that’s OK) but then there is the kitchen and servers along the side wall, taking about maybe 40% of the shop’s width. That means that it’s pretty cramped at the front of the store and then a big open area at the back with only two tables in it – one communal and one more intimate.

The cafe was pretty full and so I had to sit directly opposite the servers which meant that every time the chef plated a breakfast, he would ring a bell that could have been heard in Grovedale. I’m not sure why the bell was necessary – it was really obvious when there was food ready to be distributed.

The young lady who served me took far too long – in the end, one of her colleagues standing nearby apologised twice that I was being ignored (why couldn’t she take the order – I’ll give the benefit of the doubt, given that everything is new. Maybe she hadn’t been trained). When my order was taken, I gave a $5 note for my $4 coffee and stood and waited and waited while she went off and instructed someone else on some task or another. From making it to the counter until I received my change would have been a good five minutes. Not good enough.

Having waited about ten minutes for my coffee (which seemed to translate to about fifteen rings of that bell), it arrived with a big black coffee drip down the side of the cup.

The coffee was satisfactory rather than great. There are probably ten or fifteen other cafes within 50 metres of Secret Society and therefore, their coffee and customer service are going to have to improve if they are going to make a go of their new location.

 

Address: 194 Pakington Street
Suburb: Geelong West 3218
Web Site: www.facebook.com/fabrettobrothersspecialtycoffeeroasters
Telephone: 0417 355 110
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Fabretto Brothers
Headline: Disappointing customer service. Unusual shop layout. Very loud bell. Satisfactory coffee. Not enough to have me rushing back.
Coffee Rating: Three stars

Box Office – Revisit

 

Box Office was one of the first venues that I reviewed as part of the Geelong Coffee project. At that time, I mentioned that I was pretty disappointed with the breakfast that I had – “there didn’t seem to be anything startlingly special about the bread used and the eggs were too hard for my liking”. I could have easily been talking about today’s breakfast as well. It is unlikely that I will be returning to Box Office for breakfast in the foreseeable future.

At least, last time, I found the coffee satisfactory – more so than startling. I have had experience with Axil Coffee Roasters in Melbourne and here in Geelong and until my visit to Box Office last time, I had struggled to find a good cup of coffee made with Axil beans. I used to work less than 200m from the Axil shop in Hawthorn and would walk at least another 500m past it to get coffee that I could enjoy. Interestingly, all of my workmates who drank their coffee with milk and sugar would rave about the flavour – not so those of us who drink our coffee black.

Anyway, today’s coffee was rated a full star less than last time and underlined my disappointment with coffee made with beans from Axil. Maybe coincidence? Maybe barista training? Maybe the beans? Who knows?

Personally, I don’t think I’ll risk it again.

 

Link to previous review: Box Office – May 2015
Address: 77 Preston Street
Suburb: Geelong West 3218
Web Site: www.boxofficecafe.com.au
Telephone: TBA
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Axil CoffeeRoasters
Headline: In the last review I said “A touch industrial. Doing Axil Coffee better than Axil themselves!” This time was disappointing – once again I found an Axil brew that lacked any great flavour, as has been my experience in a number of outlets that use Axil beans.
Original Coffee Rating: Three and a half stars
Revisit Coffee Rating: lessthanthree