Sunday, 23 December 2012

Not Bread Alone

Apologies to all my readers, it has been a while since I posted something new. A lot has happened in the last 2 months. As I discovered that my grandma has been diagnosed with Dementia, I have come to terms that losing memory is not a simple case of forgetting something. But the interactions that come along with the memories are also lost along the way.

I now see this blog as a way to capture not only of my memories of the cafes that I go to but it reiterate stronger the reason why I had started this blog and that is to share with people the story behind the cafe. I have always mentioned to friends that I don't critic on the food or coffee because I don't believe that everyone taste is the same. But I believe that in knowing the story behind the cafe it can give you a different feel of the cafe when you visit it.

So in this post, it is only fitting that this cafe appeared for the Christmas Posting because of its biblical story behind it. So read on to find out about the story of Not Bread Alone.

I was on my way for an Indian Dinner at Crows Nest that I gone past this place and immediate this sign caught my attention "We roast our coffee in house". Through my blog, you would have realize that I love to hunt around for boutique roasters and friends of mine have been nagging me to find a cafe to blog on in the North. This one just fit both criteria, so I decided to come back to the cafe the next weekend to try the place out.

As things turn out, my favourite music store Allans Music is no longer in business and my source for music books required me to start hunting for another. It was a coincidence that Zephyr Music is only around the corner from Not Bread Alone. So guess wasn't too long from when I saw the sign to my first try at the cafe.

Through facebook, I contacted Not Bread Alone to organize for a session and very soon a session was scheduled for the interview to happen at the cafe, early in the morning to avoid the morning weekend rush. But guess what, even though i'm early, I am the second customer and Barbara was on her way out for a home delivery at 07.15 hours in the morning!

Not Bread Alone is located in Crows Nest, but like Not Just Coffee, while the address might indicate it is on the main street. Physically it is not located on the main street but on the side street. So how do you get there.

This is the view of Pacific Highway that is closest to the intersection for the cafe. 

This is the intersection between Pacific Highway and Hume Street.

The easiest way to recognize the intersection is to look out for the Australia Post building. 

You will see a nicely painted wall on Hume Street as you turn into the road. 

Cafe Name: Not Bread Alone

Shop 2, 376 Pacific Highway (Corner of Hume Street)
Crows Nest

Monday - Saturday : 0730 to 2300 (1700 to 1800 break)
Sunday : 0730 to 1700

Why did you choose Not Bread Alone as the cafe name?

It stems from biblical saying that you cannot live on bread alone. For Barbara Lloyd (owner of cafe), her goal for the cafe is to provide a place where customers can take a moment in your day to enjoy and for her that mean activity around food. 

The business of running a cafe started 40 years back with Barbara's mum in Mosman. During those days when Mosman was only catered for the high end. Her mum started a cafe in the area that will cater for the everyday budget with a strong belief in serving good quality food with simple ingredients. Till this day, the cafe is still catering with mum's original recipes like the apple crumble dessert. 

If you like your Benedict eggs then you would be happy to know that all the eggs used in this dish is in the 800g category which meant that there are more white to make the egg rounder and bigger. If you are really an egg lover, then you will also be pleased to know there are over 10 different ways in which eggs are cooked in the cafe. They are also freshly picked up from the Flemington Market in the morning too. 

For those of you that likes muffins, you would be pleased to know that everything is baked in house including all their cakes and muffins. 

So why this location?

Barbara admitted herself this is probably one of the worse location because it is a very small place and tucked away from the highway and also away from the main eatery street in crows nest. But the quality food makes up for it and in the end being tuck away also meant that her customers have a bit more tranquility as compared to the cafes on the main street. 

With council permission, she has now added more outdoor seating and has also extended her hours to operate 6 nights a week other than Sunday (At least keeping part of the Sabbath day). This cafe business has grown through locals recognition of the quality food and service and for now 80% of her customers are regular. So many are her regulars that she knew many of them by names and on top of her local delivery, you wonder why her customers just keep coming back. 

Barbara prides on the service of her cafe. Initially she hired high end restaurant waiter/waitress but found that the attitude that comes along wasn't fitting for her cafe. So in the end she changed the way she hired people. She now search for nice people and train them because she say you can't train people to be nice or have a smile but you can train someone to serve. In the photo is the cafe's chef who is also Barbara's personal friend. 

Through her years of experience in the industry she saw the social change associated with having breakfast in a cafe. Breakfast has become a social thing as people living lifestyle changes. People used to have breakfast at home with their unique cooking style but now enjoying breakfast in a cafe is a way to enjoy a moment. And it is precisely this moment that she caters her cafe for. 

Coffee Blend
If you like the coffee, you can also purchase the coffee beans directly and for those that wonders about the roasting, the roaster can be seen just behind the cashier. 

So what do you like about this industry?

Barbara mentioned that she likes looking after people and meeting a broad range of interesting people. She also like meeting her customers at the time of the day when they want to enjoy and  providing them that enjoyment is what she likes about this industry. 

An interesting note came up as the session draws to an end, Barbara mention that Crows Nest at some point has the highest concentration of eateries in the Southern Hemisphere in a 1.5km radius. Anyone wanna dispute on this one?

What is your favourite coffee?
Double shot flat white

As usual, I had a cappuccino.
Cappuccino Price Index $3.90

That's it from me for this year. Have a Merry Christmas (safe & healthy) and Happy New Year. See you in 2013 with more cafe stories. 

PS: I forgot to mention, for the rugby lovers. Babara's son plays rugby in Italy so I'm sure a chat about rugby is alright anytime. 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Fibonacci Coffee

Deepest apologies to my readers, I have been procrastinating on this piece of work because every Friday I said to myself that I would go out and take some photos but every weekend came and gone even the latest long weekend (Labour Day Holiday). So week after week, I failed to get out to the cafes. So this is going to be my first attempt at writing a blog without any photos taken by me, all photos are taken from Fibonacci website.

This blog is slightly different from the other articles, I am not introducing you to a cafe or a roaster but to a cafe business model setup by Fibonacci Coffee. 

What is the idea behind the name?
Fibonacci refers to an Italian mathematician in the 12th century, considered by some people as the most talented western mathematician during the Middle Ages. The two things that Fibonacci has left us are modus Indorum aka Arabic numerals and the Fibonacci sequence.

Fibonacci sequence is a maths theory that Fibonacci has applied in the solving of the problem - growth of a population of rabbits based on idealized assumption. In the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, each number is the sum of the previous two numbers. So what Fibonacci Coffee is trying to portray here is
  1. Trying to be simple
  2. Seeing the franchise business as a natural re-occurring like the Fibonacci sequence in the growth of the rabbit population
  3. Also to reflect coffee's Italian origin
How did the business idea came along?
4 founders to the business (3 brothers and friend) meet up in 1999, developing from coffee cart to cafe. The background of the 4 founders are into system building and franchising. When they build this franchise business, they decide to take it down a different path. Having researched into different franchising business model, they see the traditional franchise model way of working as a losing game for the franchisee. 

When Fibonacci Coffee decided to franchise their business, they took on a no franchise fee approach and not only that, they will provide group support to their franchisee in ways such as personal training. The core values of Fibonacci Coffee is to be family oriented business and a high moral business model. They strongly believe in treating their franchise like their family members

So how does the model work?

This is one of the ways Fibonacci Coffee franchise work. Firstly, the core team will locate a venue and setup the cafe themselves, proving that the cafe does have a healthy revenue before franchising the cafe to an interested party. For new starters to the cafe industry, they can choose to franchise with Fibonacci Coffee and Fibonacci team will provide onsite support for the new franchisee in running the cafe if the franchisee require their support. 

This model then ensure that the cafes that they do put on the market for franchise are actually revenue generating cafes and if you are looking at taking over a cafe in another location and want to franchise with Fibonacci Coffee, they may also provide advice as to the viability of the cafe for that location. Because they do not want anyone to get into a situation when at the end of the day, they might lose all their retirement funds after taking over the cafe. 

With the growth in the number of franchisees, Fibonacci Coffee is now able to provide their franchisees with the group buying power by reducing the cost of the supplies. 

The main activities that Fibonacci Coffee is working on now is the promotion of their coffee carts hire for corporation and events and Research & Development in locating more locations to setup cafes with the hope of moving the brand forward through the opening of more outlets. 

Finally, there is one thing to note, Fibonacci team places high value in having a work life balance. Hence you would find that a majority of their locations are located in office tower (which is also part of the problem for me in getting to those cafes, the cafes are outside my working area and hence I can't get to those cafes during a work day for photos) that only operates from Monday to Friday. They believe that weekend is time to spend with their families. 

Their proudest story is their first cafe located in Raymond Terrace that saw them successfully implementing their franchise model when a staff took over the cafe to become the owner of the cafe. 

Picture below is a photo representation of their Happy Blend. 

Okay readers, I got a couple of people to ring up for the next blog, hopefully it won't be too long before my next blog. 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Juju Espresso - Sydney Australia

This week we are still hanging around the city, but closer to Circular Quay. I don't know what attracts me to this cafe but I just want to interview it for no obvious reason. Perhaps this is the magic of the cafe...

Juju Espresso is located at 27 Macquarie Place, Kyle House. Kyle House is designed by a gifted architect Dellit, who died young. According to the city of Sydney Heritage Study, Kyle House is an important example of Inter-War Art Deco style which emphasizes verticality and detail of cladding materials. 

Together with the buildings around Macquarie Place, Kyle House forms an important landmark feature and contributes to the historic street character. The rear courtyard and access way arrangement is relatively rare in Sydney and this also reflect the nature of the area's relationship with the shipping and trading days during the early 19th century (Graham Brooks & Associates, 2000). 

To get to the cafe, the closest train stations are Wynyard and Circular Quay. For those that intend to drive there, please note that the cafe is located at Macquarie Place not Street. 

Cafe Name: Juju Espresso

27 Macquarie Place
Sydney NSW 2000

Monday - Friday: 0530 - 1600
Saturday - Sunday: Closed

Now let's enter into the world of Juju Espresso

What is the idea behind the name?

I mentioned before that this place draws me like there is some form of magic. Well you know what, this is exactly the meaning of the cafe. According to James, that was exactly what he meant. Juju in Swahili language meant magic and in the culture of Tanzania, Juju is the form or belief in a powerful spirit world. Juju is abounds in traditional spells and cures used to control and command the believers. So in this case coffee is this cafe black magic. 

Coffee Beans: Di Gabriel Espresso 101 (2011 CSR Gold Medal)

Why this location?

Had been operating at AMP Plaza (Chocolat) for a few years prior to the opening of this boutique. James has a love for CBD but why this location is because of the building. James like the character of the shop which has a very Melbourne boutique and upbeat feel. In addition, the building architecture which is also a heritage listed site also attracted James.

Left: James Kotselas
Right Jason Hughes

James and Jason have been working for a while now, the history of their working relationship started from La Buvette (which meant a waterhole in French). It was a place to meet and they worked at that joint 16 years ago.

As for Juju motto: Whatever it takes

Going with their motto, they do whatever it takes to bring not only the best coffee but also in their food. Juju has a commercial kitchen and many of their food are prepared in their own kitchen in Glebe. They change their food according to the season. The photo below is what you may expect from the cafe.

So what do you both like about working in the cafe/industry?

Jason reply: because we are silly....(hard to replicate the humor in this blog, readers you would have to imagine it). On a serious note, they are in this industry because they love their customers and they enjoy making and serving good coffee and food. So even though it is demanding (long hours) but for them it is rewarding to see their customers enjoying their food and coffee. 

What is your plan for the future?

Open more shops, most likely Mon-Fri store with similar menus and same standard. 

Why only a Mon-Fri store? 

That is because they would need time to rest and also to pay attention to another arm of their business which is the mobile cart catering. 

What is your favourite coffee?

Cafe's special of the house - Dickolo (The Horny Piccolo)
Dickolo = Double Ristretto Piccolo 

As for me, I had a Cappuccino (I would have tried the Dickolo had I known earlier).

Oh by the way, Juju Cappuccino is topped up with real chocolate flakes not powder.

Cappuccino Price Index: AUD $3.50 (Eat in)

That's all from me this week. Thank you to all the readers who had been so patience with me this month.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

KB Coffee Roasters - Sydney Australia

This week we are back into the corporate office area in Sydney City. You are probably wondering why is this place so unique then? Well to start off with, the coffee is not served in a cafe but it is served from a coffee cart. Yup that's right, a coffee cart, it is in fact quite a rare sight in Sydney City. 

How I stumbled upon this place? I craved for an afternoon coffee and wanted to go somewhere that I have yet to try. Dragged a colleague to come along with me, but she was in a hurry to go back to the office and we saw this coffee cart with an afternoon coffee special as we walked on Clarence Street and decided to give it a go. Try it, like it and here we are today with an interview arranged. 

Location: 191 Clarence Street (Closest intersection King and Clarence Street)

Unfortunately it was raining cats and dogs on the day when I was there for the photos. Can't give you the same street view that I usually post in the other blogs. So dear readers, you would have to make do with the rainy version this time. 


So the picture on the left shows the view from the cart towards King Street. The coffee cart is located outside Allied graphics and diagonally behind the Grace Hotel. So for any visitors coming to Sydney, why not make a trip to this "cafe" and experience a different coffee drinking experience.

Picture on the right shows Clarence street towards QVB, for those that would like to drive to the cafe, please note that Clarence street is a one way traffic and the lane closest to the cafe is a bus lane. Best to park 3 lanes away from the cafe and make a quick dash for your coffee fix.

Cafe Name: KB Espresso Bar

191 Clarence Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Monday - Friday: 0800 to 1600
Saturday - Sunday: Closed

So what is the idea behind the name?

Just wanted a simple name and what can be simpler than the initial of both partners' last name.
K =Kinahan and B = Brawn.

KB Espresso bar served their own coffee beans.

- KB Silverback which is big, bold and strong

- KB Emperor Monkey which is a smoother blend

Why this location?
One of the reasons is purely a sound economic reason, the low overhead cost required in setting up the place. However, the challenge is also how to make the place attractive because Michael has nothing more than a couple of pillars and a cart to work with. So this is what Michael has come up with to make the place more interesting and to fill it with more soul.

Without any decor, is a cold and hard looking environment.

With abit of creative juice flowing, add a little bit of a green to the hard concrete floor, this is what you get. The effect is actually quite fascinating, to feel abit of grass underneath your feet after a day at work, it is actually quite comforting. Now the only thing that is missing is the BBQ, a sausage sizzle to go along with the coffee would have been very nice. 

Abit about the owners

This is a collaboration between Peter Brawn and Michael Kinahan. Michael whom I interviewed used to work at The Wolseley Cafe Restaurant in London at their tea and coffee section. It is there that he became obsessed in coffee. After his 7 years stint in London, Michael returned to Sydney and decided to venture into the art of coffee roasting.

This is a view of the Coffee Kart

Something interesting about this cart that I saw was a group of photos stuck onto the inner cover of the cart. I was told by Michael that these are photos of some of his regulars. So for those of you that want to have your picture added, you know what to do ;P

While I was there, I managed to catch onto their takeaway cup stamping process


Michael with his staff at the Espresso Bar and the tower of stamped cups.

Finally, a departing cup of cappuccino from Michael and his gnome. 

Cappuccino Price Index: $3

Till the next blog, a Merry July Christmas to all those in the southern hemisphere!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Vintage Cafe - The Rocks Australia

I am so sorry to my readers for the delay, Diablo3 has certainly took a lot of hours from everything that I do.

If you are a visitor to Sydney or a new resident of Sydney, you certainly cannot missed going to The Rocks. There is our famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge and if you are reading this blog, I am assuming that you are a fan of coffee and hence you cannot miss our annual Sydney Aroma Festival that will be held at the Rocks this year on 29th July 2012 from 10am to 5pm.

The Rocks is obviously an old part of Sydney and has a long history to it. If you were to take a weekend afternoon to have a walk around the area, you can discover the history of the place with little plaques like these scattered around different part of The Rocks.

Or alternatively, there are organized tours that will guide you to the different sites. 

Normally, if you were to go to The Rocks by public transport, you would get to the cafe via George Street. Having drove there, I decided to park at one of the back streets (Harrington Street). Below is a series of photos to show you the road to the cafe. Walking from Wynyard towards The Rocks on Harrington Street, you would pass by the tourist popular Duty Free Shop (DFS Galleries). 


As you walk past 66 Harrington Street, look out for a sign that points to Nurses Walk.

Progress your way down Mission Stairs to Nurses Walk


The cafe is actually located on Nurses Walk within the building of what used to be Sydney first hospital. 

If you are coming from George Street, once again like any other good cafes that were featured before, it is tuck away from the public eye. So here's the direction.

Walking along George Street, as you get to the ice-cream shop (Copenhagan), turn left into nurses walk.

Another reference point, the alley is diagonally across the street from the Museum of Contemporary Art.

You would come up from this arcade and immediately you are greeted with something so beautiful. If you are thinking this is cafe, sorry, nope. 

Now that you know how to get there. Let start with the interview. 

Cafe Name: The Vintage Cafe

R2 Nurses Walk, The Rocks

Monday - Wednesday: 1030 to 1630
Thursday - Friday: 1030 to 2130
Saturday: 0900 to 2130
Sunday: 0900 to 2100

So what is the idea behind the cafe name?

Firstly, the sandstone building itself is a vintage. Secondly, cafe owner like antique (see clock in picture) and you can spot a thing or two around his cafe. The decoration of the cafe is also set in a vintage style with wooden tables and chairs and for a moment I thought I was in Europe. Other than the surrounding this feeling came about when I heard Spanish/Portuguese spoken among the staffs. 

Coffee Beans: Ducale Coffee Beans

Why this location?
For 11 years this location was run by another cafe (Latte Brothers on the Rocks), when the opportunity came up for this location. Julian thought it was too good an opportunity to pass especially due to his taste for vintage and antique. This was a perfect location for him. 

Cafe Owner: Julian Montenegro (during the rush, I forgot to take a picture of the owner, will have to make it up one day)

Julian is a chef by trade and he started this cafe 3 years ago alongside with his wife. Julian also mentioned that his staffs are either Spanish/Portuguese speaking because this is to go along with the fact that his cafe is also a Latin Restaurant by night. 

If you think that chorizos is only limited to the Spanish Quarters down at Goulburn Street then you have certainly got to give this cafe a try. They are famous for its flaming Chorizos served at the table and Portuguese tarts. 

What is also great at this cafe is on a weekend, after you have done your walk around the botanic gardens or  at the Rocks market, this is a great cafe to sit in and enjoy a brunch while listening to the mellow sounds of live music. If you are thinking that it is going to be noisy with the music, well then you are in for a surprise. It is actually quite a zen experience and you certainly do not have to shout to your friends on the table for a conversation. 

As I sat and observe, most of the patrons of the cafe are certainly tourists, so when I ask Julian if there are many locals. He said that over the last 3 years, the number of tourists have certainly reduced but he said that there has been a slight increase in the number of locals and there are more return local customers for his cafe during the night. 

So come on people, let us support our local business, organize a few friends and give this cafe a go, be it their breakfast or coffee or their famous burning chorizos. 

Final question

What is your favourite coffee?
Long black without sugar - like to enjoy coffee as it is