Fabulous little hole-in-the-wall gem. Does one thing and does it well: great coffee & old-fashioned hot chocolate. So much atmosphere! Packed with curios and oddments. Charming bearded host. Squeeze in, get your coffee, squeeze out the back door to sit and drink it. I could live here.
So, there's this tiny little place in a side street of West End, it looks kind of Cuban (which funnily enough it is!)..... I noticed it on the first day I started my new job in (I get to travel to Brisbane frequently from my Melbourne base), and subsequently noticed it only on weekends, when it is closed, because I tend to walk different ways to work each day....... When I first saw it, I was on my way to work and determined to squeeze a good coffee out of the guys from the cafe under the office....I figured I was settling in for a month and we should work together, you know, mutual benefits to be enjoyed! I give them the moula they give me the good stuff, we're all friends and nobody gets hurt (or bitterly disappointed having to ditch an overly strong, bitter coffee that leaves a carpety after effect in ones palette!). First mistake. The "super weak please cuz I can't do strong coffee's" plea seemed to go unheard and I found myself sitting at my desk, longing for those halcyon days of St Ali coffee post running around Albert Park Lake back in Melbourne ........ and as I fought back the tears, I became determined to make this flailing relationship work....so, if the mountain won't make good coffee, Muhammed will switch to soy chai lattes! This goes along the same lines of the theory that any sex is good sex....which I now think is a defunct theory for desperados...........needless to say, for the past 2 weeks although I have gone through the motions of ordering, watching them make, and sipping an early morning hot beverage....the joy of the caffeine fix I have grown so fond of has eluded me, and as delicious as the home made soy chai latte's really are, I know in my heart that they are best kept for an afternoon treat and are not the morning staple that I want. No. Not at all. In the past two weeks I have gingerly tried coffee from one other cafe.....a very pricy, fancy shmancy little French cafe near my apartment......I queued early Sunday morning, hoping with all my hopes that I would be satisfied. At this point my expectations were not so high, in fact that were so low that anything remotely coffee-esque with some warm to hot soy milk would do the job.....alas, the $4.80 coffee that I waited 10 minutes for (while salivating over the fancy and actually very delicious french baked goods) was indeed coffee-esque, hot, milky.....but as I walked up the street and took my first sip....I realised it was full cream milk. In the bin with you mon cherie! This morning, something inside me, deep in my caffeine addicted heart, I had an epiphany........it was that this morning I had to go via the little Cuban shop, just to see, just to appease the notion inside me that perhaps, just perhaps, it might be fabulous......gut feeling is the best guide....and oh my god, forgive me father for I have sinned by waiting so long for this, it was a religious and lifechanging experience all at once. And it lasted so long! Not just in and out and over in a few short sips, no, I am still enjoying the feeling now! Tiny it was. Probably the smallest I have ever seen! But he really knew what to do with it! The shop I mean, It was no more than 4 by 5 metres, and was packed from floor to ceiling with Cuban chachkes (nik naks for those of you who don't speak Yiddish), postcards of summer holidays in the Cuban sun, cigar cases. Oh and the smell. It hit me the second I walked in and at that point I was tempted just to linger and smell, not actually drink a coffee incase it was less amazing than the delicious coffee aroma. But since Fidel looked so confident with his big coffee machine, I took the plunge and went the grind! I told Fidel about my intention of coming to see him sooner, and that I was sorry. He said, oh, well you're here now. And I was. I had arrived. It was at this point I told him I was in love. I loved his shop and I knew I would love the coffee. As I asked for a latte and sincerely apologised about my soy milk preference, I knew I was in good hands. He smiled, atleast I think he did, kind of hard to see beneath his beard. Anyway, as Che Guevara's hombre poured my brew I just stood and soaked up the serenity, serenity mixed with some Cuban street music playing just audibly in the background. I took it, along with a delicious wholemeal muffin, and I walked. I walked up the street a couple of metres. I stopped. I sipped. Oh. My God. Needless to say, I have a date with a colleague to take him to see our communist leader at 7.30am tomorrow morning. I am enlisting all coffee drinkers I know and we will join the left resistance. Um, I mean we will drink lovely latte's from my new favourite coffee house. Mi casa su casa amigos :)
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