Squinting at the copy on their site, all I could infer from the curt paragraphs were that Reuben Hills opens on the 1st and they do “Public Coffee Cupping”. Drop those three words in a sentence and I’m sure the next person thinks you’re referring to something rather questionable; Wikipedia however steps in and stops my imagination from swooping too close to the gutter by defining a Coffee Cupping as an experience whereby groups can “observe the tastes and aromas of coffee …[via] sniffing and slurping to measure aspects of the coffee’s taste (body, acidity, flavour and aftertaste).”
Unfortunately a last-minute meeting means I have to forgo the PCC but we manage to turn up on an overcast Sunday for a late brunch instead. As I walk past the front, two guys sipping macchiatos were talking about Baxter Inn in an awestruck drawl; inside revealed a long space with fluorescents-as-art, polished concrete floor, graffiti, revealed brick work, wooden school chairs and young men in cloth slip-ons who enjoy protein powder with their caffeine hit. It’s a hipster’s paradise.
I gingerly sit down on a rusty-metal-beam-cum-bench and ask around before a customer points to the counter and advises I get my name onto a waiting list.
It’s not long before the manager signals that I’m able to sit at a table and my two companions drift in. The guys here are serious about their coffee and it seeps through every level of the operation: from roasting their own beans on site to designing an origin inspired menu.
Despite the muggy weather I start off with a coffee whilst Dan opts for a peculiar “chocolate and ginger” milkshake.
Salted Caramel milkshake $6.50
Plonk! A metal cup of frothy goodness arrives but one sip and we realise it’s salted caramel (which isn’t listed on the menu) but Dan seems pleased with the taste and we don’t have the patience to wave down a staff member and opt to keep this delicious orphan cupful instead.
Baleada: Pimento pork, chimol, crispy onions $9
The food items available are a mix of South & North American fare, with a breakfast trifle sitting side by side with a listing of baked beef empanadas. The big seller here it seems are the baleadas: described as a Honduras flour tortilla stuffed with goodies and in this instance the goodies are hunks of pulled pork and salsa which I polish off in a jiffy.
Flat white with a shot of premium espresso $5 + Baked eggs with shaved Jamon, steamed spinach, Ranchero sauce and Schiacciata $13
The menu also lists a changing premium espresso for under $5 which we request to be served with milk as a flat white. The cup arrives and looks deceptively common but revealed a complex yet smooth earthy mouthful, I was shocked that this little shot had it all: brains and a good body.
The pleasant surprises endure as moments later two ceramic bowls arrived, each with a perfectly toasted finger of bread sharing plate space with a couple of quivering baked eggs shuddering under the weight of the Jamon and spinach. We pop the yolks and watches as it glides and pools before mopping it up with the crusty Schiacciata.
Doggs Breakfast: Ice cream ‘sandwich’ with salted caramel $8
No gluttonous foray of ours is complete without a sweet ending and so I urge my companions on with an order of the cheeky ‘Doggs Breakfast’. It took some effort to find a waiter willing to stop and take our order (the first saw my waving hand, raised an eyebrow and kept walking) but soon before us, a square of cake and ice cream stands upright on our prison plate in a luxurious puddle of dense salted caramel.
We ‘oo’ and ‘ah’ over that thick sauce and roll the remaining cake crumbs through the orange slick before licking our spoons clean. As we move to pay and leave we received no smile or pleasantries, disappointed by the coldness of the well dressed crew we shuffle out. At least our stomachs were smiling.
A unique offering of identity rich food and coffee which would satisfy the most picky of caffeine connoisseurs. The coffee is roasted on-site and created with a lot of shiny gadgetry whilst the food is cooked by a graduate of Heston Blumenthal’s kitchen. Service was cool and indifferent although perhaps we caught them all on a bad day; the crowd can be dense with hipsters but it’s worth enduring for a beautiful feed.
a. 61 Albion St Surry Hills
t. 9211 5556