An Australian visiting Canada once told me that they were “offended” at the prospect of having being offered drip coffee in a restaurant.
Seemed like a very strong reaction to something Canadians enjoy and drink several times a day. As a (dual citizen) the Australian in me almost grumbled something along the lines of “Go back to where your flat whites came from then…” No, of course, I am kidding. As a born and raised British Columbian, that wouldn’t be very Canadian of me. My charitable and polite side easily won out, and instead I helpfully deferred them to some excellent alternatives (cafes) in their area where they could revel in the milky murk of a latte. The closest thing I could think to suggest to a ‘flat white’. It was a culture clash of coffee.
It’s certainly not to say that all drip coffee is great. Poorly prepared drip coffee can be downright nasty. Think office coffee and gas stations across North America. But if you move to Perth you will find takeaway drip coffee – or “filter” coffee – is impossible to find. That’s correct. There is nearly no drip coffee available in Perth. And no cream-o (Half & Half) either. At first, for me – this was a problem. But then, I suddenly understood the plight of my culture-shocked, expat Aussie brethren. Like my suggestion of a latte in place of the cherished Australian flat white; a long black is not the same as a filtered coffee. While not offended, I was in mourning over being separated from my daily dose of drip.
Until, the Gordon Street Garage opened in my neighbourhood.
Located at 16 Gordon Street in West Perth, Gordon Street Garage is a cavernous den of a restaurant. Whether Vegan, Paleo, Gluten-free or plain-old easy going – one can get just about anything there and the menu routinely refreshes. It’s open early in the morning with a robust breakfast crowd – to late in the evening. You can order everything from freshly pressed juices, to baked goods, pizza, lamb, seafood, robust salads, charcuterie plates – and coffee.
Very well prepared coffee.
Perfect for me, Perth’s lone, lactose-adverse drip coffee drinker.
A well prepared drip coffee (or pour over as it is termed by GSG as they use the patented Hario method) requires a few things: piping hot water, a pre-warmed cup, a cone & filter and the proper roast (light) and grind.
What is to love about a cup of drip?
Well for starters – there is more caffeine released in a light roast drip coffee than in a shot of espresso.
Partially depending of course, what kind of bean is used – robusta vs. arabica. Arabica is a high grown, higher quality small & compact bean versus the lower quality robusta which is grown in the swampier, lower regions and is about the size of a jellybean. Robusta has more caffeine. Often found in lower grade espresso (which is not a bean, but a roast) and very rarely is single origin. An espresso roast is mixed with several varietals including (sometimes) robusta beans.
Why use it then, if it is lower quality?
Robusta can be useful in making latte art and layering (easier) but results in a more bitter espresso.
How can you tell? Well – lower quality coffee containing majority robusta beans will smell like brewed dirty socks and emit a sour taste. You will know it when you try it. Arabica is my preference all the way. Actually, Shade Grown, Certified Fair Trade Arabica beans are my first choice as it is more ethical, but I’ll take arabica over robusta any day if it’s my only choice.
Gordon Street Garage uses Mano a Mano (translation: hand to hand) microlot coffee which is probate-roasted on site. Coy, as to whether the beans are 100% Arabica, but my assumption from taste is they are. And they sell all of the various accoutrements for brewing the perfect cup. Perfect for any of my North American expat friends who have arrived without coffee making aparatus. They sell the Hario V60 pour over cone and filters. I’m still using my Melita cone out of sheer nostalgia- but the Hario V60 Ceramic cone is the Lamborghini of drip coffee filters.
More than once, I have found myself out of coffee in the early morning and have zipped over to GSG to partake in a microlot of perfectly ground Guatemalan Santa Isabella, or Monte Cristo from Nicaragua. The coffee is well priced ($14.00/for 250 grams) and what I have tried so far are have been true to orgin. Ranging from bright and flowery to nuttier richer blends. The barristas are always on point and highly knowledgeable. Serving up their Mano a Mano coffee at home with a dash of (homemade) creamo, I’ve been converting Aussies to the drip & creamy dark side, one by one.
I have one tiny, little gripe though. It was the one time I found service to be lacking in what has otherwise been a fabulous succession of experiences with the Gordon Street Garage.
A perplexing, obtuse denial of bacon at breakfast.
With a fluid national identity, we really don’t have the term “un-Canadian” in our vernacular. But vegetarians aside, if ever something could possibly qualify as “un-Canadian”- it would be denial of bacon at breakfast. After all we are the country that has given the world the raucous cooking-show parody Epic Meal Time and Canadian Bacon – the movie. Not scintillating film fare but it has bacon in the title. Celebration of bacon is even an internet meme. So to deny anyone that smokey flavoured breakfast addition rounding out otherwise bland scrambled eggs and toast?
Could it be deemed…offensive? Possibly, yes.
It was an isolated experience but strange, none the less. See, bacon is on another dish on their breakfast menu – but according to our server that day, the answer was “No, you can’t have bacon.”
I cadged and cajoled “Are you sure? It’s on the menu. Can’t you charge me for a side of it?”
Again, I received an unapologetic “No.” And then she served some on the fixed dish that included bacon to the table next to us. This was unfortunate, but not unusual in Perth. I think the takeaway is to empower the floor staff with tools to think laterally and encourage these small but significant accommodations to please customers. Or maybe its time to bring in the tipping system to Australia and watch people hustle. (But that’s another post.)
Either way, I rarely blog food but based on many, many decent experiences at the Gordon Street Garage – lunches, dinners, to-go pizzas, fabulous salads and those big servings of wine – I give this joint a thumbs up.
Especially for their coffee – they have a real, winning formula with that.
And the decor. Brownie points for their use of vintage industrial architecture and design.
I could have reviewed this place the second night it opened but I thought I’d let it percolate. As the trend-seeking, fickle “foodie” (ugh, that word) crowd has ebbed from the ‘Garage (I can tell this as we share a parking lot) I still think it’s still a good bet. In the years to come, it will have to build on it’s loyal customers and locals as any business does. To my chagrin, they have taken away the desert counter in the evenings and I earnestly hope they fix the bacon-at-breakfast issue but it’s still has much to recommend it.
Most of all the coffee. So, please don’t mess with the Mano a Mano, that’s all I ask.
So, have you been?
Is it reasonable to deny someone bacon at breakfast?
Does the word “foodie” make your skin crawl, too?
Thoughts? Spill ‘em! I welcome them all
*** Editor’s Note: 20/04/2014 ***
*Well, look at that. Gotta give credit where it’s due. GSG has now added sides to the breakfast menu.