It's like watching live theatre.
The modest eat-in area at Single Origin Cafe is full when we stop by for lunch, and we are motioned to wait on the row of stools in the alley across from the cafe. We sit there patiently with menus, watching the bustle of locals drinking coffee, eating lunch and soaking up the sun - it almost seems a shame when we're summoned over with a friendly wave when a table has become free.
Single Origin menus
Single Origin started as a small cafe in 2003 with a 15kg roaster affectionately known as Big Boris. Today Single Origin has expanded to include a dedicated warehouse in Alexandria, where a 120kg roaster is required to roast and blend their wide range of coffees for both wholesale and retail customers.
The cafe is cosy and quirky, with distinctive murals painted on the walls, and lamingtons and macarons lined up on chopping boards on the counter. The click-click and whir of the coffee machine is non-stop, as the barista serves an endless queue of loyal coffee fans.
We peruse the menus - updated seasonally with a focus on sustainable produce - that are covered in recycled coffee hessian bags.
White corn tortilla $15
with pulled organic pork, chipotle chilli beans, guacamole and pico de gallo
The spring menu includes a white corn tortilla that bears a huddle of pulled organic pork and a rainbow of tomato, capsicum, red onion, avocado and coriander. Chipotle chilli beans on the bottom are a smooth spicy paste and the filling is so significant this dish is more a cutlery than a hands-on affair.
Open lasagna of peas, broad beans, asparagus and mint $15
Open lasagna is a loose interpretation of this Italian dish but it's one worth pursuing. Undulating folds of fresh pasta sheets are slippery smooth between bedfellows of peas, broad beans and asparagus in shades of vibrant green. Oozing ricotta and shavings of sharp parmesan make this a vegetarian dish of pleasure.
Roast beef sandwich with chimmichurri $15
beetroot relish, onion jam and rocket
The roast beef sandwich is a more substantial offering, thick slices of toast filled with a hefty wad of roast beef, tangy beetroot relish, caramelised onion jam and fresh rocket leaves. The chimmichurri is a generous spread of chopped parsley, garlic and olive oil but it's the sticky sweetness of the onion jam that I savour most.
Mocha coffee $3.50
A mocha coffee arrives with the most exquisite latte art on top, a perfect fern on top of a rich and aromatic coffee and chocolate blend.
Siphon coffee $15 (Yemen blend) - enough for three small cups
I'm keen to order the siphon coffee, an extraction process I'd first experienced at Melbourne's Sensory Lab. There's a great sense of scientific spectacle, one that involves glass contraptions and a naked flame. Essentially it involves heating water to almost boiling, so it is forced up the tube and into the top vessel holding the ground coffee. The barista gives the coffee a quick stir at the top with a wooden paddle to make sure all the coffee grinds make contact with the water.
Adjusting the flame
When all the water has migrated to the top vessel, the heat source is removed so the water cools and eventually makes its way back down to the bottom. A filter at the top of the tube ensures no coffee grinds end up in your final drink.
Brewed coffee making its way down the tube
Final brewed coffee
The coffee is poured into fancy glasses and for the first time I can appreciate the subtleties that come from siphon brewing. Many of its fans say that siphon coffee tastes more like tea, and we find there's a broader spectrum of flavours here, not simply robust and bitter, but with fragrant and delicate notes on the palate.
Cold brewed Yemen coffee
We have barely taken a sip of our coffee when the barista returns with tiny glass thimbles filled with ice and coffee which he says has been brewed using the cold drip method. This involves a slow drip of water through ground coffee, a process that takes 5-7 hours. He made these last night and is happy to provide them as a complimentary treat.
The cold drip coffee exhibits an unusual intensity, its bitterness almost reminiscent of whisky. I drink both without sugar, and find it's the best way to appreciate them without masking their flavours.
A delicious lunch and good coffee, with a science show thrown in too.
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Single Origin Roasters
60-64 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 0665
Monday to Friday 6.30am-4pm
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11/15/2010 06:18:00 a.m.