I recently wrote an article for an Australian design publication about this country’s intense and abiding passion for coffee. Regular followers of this blog will know just how I feel about the beans, brews and blends this side of the Atlantic. In fact, I’m so taken with this nation-wide obsession, that I felt the need to share my thoughts and the thoughts of some of Australia’s master coffee connoisseurs in a researched article on the topic. (More about the piece in a later post.)
Aussies are not just big coffee drinkers. They are masters at sourcing, roasting, grinding and serving coffee. They host coffee competitions and conferences. The place quality baristas in the same category as good tax accountants, hair colourists and sushi chefs. People talk about single origin roasts and the consistency of their milk, their froth and their chocolate sprinkles. Australians experiment with coffee like scientists experiment with formulae and microscopes. They filter coffee filtered through imported Japanese siphons that look like science beakers. They’ve awakened age-old brewing techniques like cold drip and slow brew.
Look, don’t get me wrong. The Italians know how to make a more-than-decent shot of espresso and I’ve sipped on my fair share of dreamy,creamy lattes in Paris, but without a doubt, my absolute hands-down favourite place in the world to consume a cup of caffeinated pleasure is right here in Australia.
But, wait, there’s more.
This country’s obsession with coffee has also translated into some of the coolest cafes and coffee shops I have ever laid my eyes on. This country has an uncanny ability to make a coffee shop so very very hip, happening and fun to be around. So much so, that I have slowly started to document some of my favourite Aussie cafes.
So, I thought I’d start my first coffee culture post with the simply fantabulous The Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney.
The Grounds is located in the semi-industrial suburb of Alexandria in Sydney. Yes, semi-industrial. This ain’t no beachy cafe. This is a cafe right in the heart of a busy, warehouse-rich neighbourhood.
The cafe is essentially a remodelled old warehouse-style building that was a pie factory in a previous life. The establishment was conceived by entrepreneur and food importer Ramzey Choker who collaborated with coffee connoisseur and “World Latte Art Champion 2007” Jack Hanna. The fit-out was designed by the talented Caroline Choker from The Artistry. Aside from the well-conceived interiors, I also love the completely integrated branding. They also grow some of their own produce on site – in the gardens which flank the sides of the large open air seating area. There is also an outdoor bar area, pizza oven and play area. They are still completing the fit-out but the place is already buzzing. Buzzing, buzzing, buzzing!
The staff are helpful and friendly, especially co-collaborator Jason, who couldn’t help me enough on the day I took these shots.
I have now been back again for a cappuccino. I always sit outside under the awnings and can’t believe that I am sitting in the heart of Alexandria. It’s a little bit of Aussie-style industrial-cool.
Sydneysiders – the place is packed on the weekends, but if you can sneak in a visit during the week, it is heavenly!