I dropped into Toby's Estate again to reassess. It was late and the winter sun had already set. I was the only one in the space. I had the undivided attention of the two barristas. We talked coffee. It took them a little while to warm up to the idea that I wanted to know about processing and roast dates as I wanted to buy something from their array of 8 different types of beans on sale. They weren't entirely knowledgeable, but we dug into the tasting notes and other details on the packaging together. They were running the Ethiopian Korate as a single origin espresso so I tried it as an espresso before buying the beans. On this particular occasion the espresso was amazing. I am not one for empty praise. I try to mark hard and benchmark everyone against the best I have ever drunk (see previous review of Toby's Estate in Flat Iron). This was a very interesting espresso. I would have to say it was sweet, with a very round, almost syrupy mouth feel. There was no sourness or bitterness. It really hit the spot. I bought the beans and ever since have been trying to hit that amazing thick, sweet almost chewy espresso. I have also been back subsequently and its been OK, but not perfect. It is very hard for a barrista to be running two coffees through the machine and get grind, dose and temperature just right. I really hope they get the place humming along and the consistency of coffee and service up to the level you expect of a roastery's showcase cafe.
I had built up my anticipation for Toby's Estate Flat Iron. After all, it is roughly in my neighbourhood. The space is not very inviting. Sort of feels like you're in the corridor to the Strand bookstore behind. But it is still a volumous space. Tgere is a barrow little tiled bar by the mirror where you can perch. As an esoteric reference, the style reminds me of the Collins St end of the Georges department store. If any of you remember that great, but short-lived piece of late 90's Melbournia. The staff here are super slow. 4 staff and only managing about 1 coffee a minute (yeah, I timed them while I hung out). Maybe a bit more if their just doing fraught espressos. So, now onto the coffee. Strong, punchy, bitter, maybe a little burnt. The milk makes all the wrong sounds for microfoam, and no amount of banging will bring it from big bubbles to shiny small bubbles of creaminess. I have to say after only 1 flat white I would rate then fairly lowly. But this is Toby's Estate. I know they can do much better. I had a great 8/10 from their Union Square Christmas market stall last year. I will be back to check on their progress. Maybe you could drop in to do a little quality assurance too.
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