Recently there was a brief period where I was traveling relatively frequently for work. I managed to hone my skills at packing everything into a single bag, appreciated that I could use my iPad non-stop from when I sat down on boarding, and figured out the best place to wait for a flight from the Sydney Airport. It’s new the Virgin Australia gates, between a Hudson’s cafe and the Coopers bar.
Easy access to power is the source of all joy when you travel with a hungry family of devices to feed. While a lot of the gates do have power points, there is certainly something to be said for combined with chairs, coffee and a bottle of water. All of these are in easy reach at a long, wooden bench next to that Hudson’s cafe.
Thought when talking about just the coffee, and ignoring those other benefits, unfortunately you have to admit that it was fairly average. While it did compare well to whatever that brown molten liquid the cruise ship was serving, never the less, it is not entirely heading the pack compared to it’s land locked competitors.
The coffee was very standard mass cafe fare with a flavour that can best be described as ‘coffee’. The temperature was good, though they may need to look at the machine and the grinder, because some grounds did make it into the cup. Service was good and fast, and while there were nicer seats than the metal stool i was parked on, those are not next to power points, so some compromises must be made. The cafe was also close to my gate, and there was some EPL on the tv right next to where I was sitting.
Recently I found myself on the Carnival cruise ship, Legends, for a night recently. It was the first ship I had ever actually been on, so I was not entirely sure what to expect. As far as I can tell, the cruise ship experience more or less looks a lot like being on a large, long hotel that happens to float. That and people really don’t like it when you call it a boat.
I was only on board for a single night as it sailed out of Sydney did a quick loop, and came back. There were a lot of things to check out on the ship, including the buffet and the pizza place that didn’t appear to close. Unfortunately I also tried the coffee. Before getting off the boat, I paid for a long black from the small cafe in the buffet. I was a truely remarkable, egregious coffee. Possibly one of the truely exceptionally bad coffees I had ever tried. It was burnt. It was very burnt. It was burnt like coffee was a cancer and must be purged. I could barely hold the cup.
Unfortunately I was fairly tired and so I tried one of the free coffee machines. I could not tell the difference between either the free coffee or the one I paid for. Both of the coffees were pretty much exactly like the commodity coffee examples from campo’s cupping. The coffee lacked flavour or any other redeaming feature. It was coffee purely in the sense that it was brown and hot.
While I was killing two or so hours before my flights after a work related event, I discovered just how hard it is to find coffee and breakfast on a Sunday morning in the Sydney CBD. Practically everything is closed, and so after checking out of the hotel, I found myself struggling to find somewhere to sit down and have a coffee and something to eat. I spent about half an hour wandering around before giving up and heading towards the malls.
I ended up finding a small place in a Westfield in the walkway between a number of shops. The seats looked good enough, I was slightly tired and looking for a cafe was getting a little boring. Also, the tables looked large enough to set up my laptop. The cafe in question was called Cafe De Lucca. The coffee they served was reasonable and the breakfast was very acceptable. The prices were good and they let me swap my eggs for something edible without any problems.
Cafe De Lucca was a surprising nice place to wait and recharge my phone from my laptop before heading back to the hotel to head out to the airport, especially considering how hard it was to find somewhere that was actually open.
The Sydney CBD is dead on the weekend.
Cafe De Lucca
Store 38G, Level 2,
Westfield Central Plaza,
Airport coffee doesn’t actually have to be good coffee. In fact the bar is set very low for food and coffee in airports. I suspect it has a lot to do with access to a captive audience waiting for a flight. When you are boarding in 30 minutes, you are unlikely to shop around much.
Gourmet Cellars in the Sydney Domestic Terminal is actually not too bad. The cafe is located just near a bookshop tucked away from the main concourse. As the name implies, they had a surprisingly substantial wine list, even if they were light on food.
The cafe uses Vittoria coffee and does a reasonable job with it. My long black was more or less OK, and was only slightly too bitter. Considering what some cafes do to Vittoria coffee, this was better than I was expecting. Unfortunately for me, their cake selection was poor to nonexistent and their food selection was just as slim. They did stock some biscuits and a few other nibbles, but nothing that appealed to me.
The seating was OK, but like so many other places in an airport, they were short on power points. The day a franchise makes power points available at the table for their airport locations, they will make a killing. Unfortunately for my phone’s battery, Gourmet Cellar was not going to be the one to start this.
OK coffee, not like you have much choice
Very light on food
I am sure their wines are lovely
Why don’t airport cafes offer patrons power points at the table?
This may come as a shock, but I did not get a long black at the Tea Centre’s store in Sydney. It would have missed the point. The Tea Centre is a specialist tea shop. They have a number of stores around Australia, including three in Brisbane, and specialise in high quality loose leaf tea. There is also a Tea Centre store in Sydney, and unlike most of the others, this one has a tea room, with tea. And cake.
The Tea Centre is in “The Glasshouse” just off the Pitt Street Mall. After spending a good part of the day walking around Sydney’s inner city shops it was nice to sit down. Adding a slice of chocolate and almond cake and a pot of tea was a bonus. My girlfriend is a rabid tea fiend and long-term fan of the Tea Centre, so I let her choose. We ended up drinking Stockholm Blend, which was pretty good.
The store certainly looked like a tea specialty shop. Tea and tea making apparatus filled most of the space, barely leaving room for a few tables and an upright cake cabinet. It seemed to be busy with customers both buying supplies for home and stopping in for a drink, but we were able to get a table and place an order without too much trouble.
Our tea arrived in a generously sized and rather attractive pot. The pot was large enough for four cups in total, and the cake was pretty good. While all three of the the Tea Centre stores in Brisbane carry the same great range of loose leaf tea, only one of them (Albert St in the CBD) has a tea room like the Pitt Street Mall store. I do prefer coffee, but if you drink tea, be sure to try out the tea from the Tea Centre. It really is very good, tastes way fresher than tea bags and contains no artifical flavours or preservatives (unlike rival chain T2).