A question that has been floating around social media an awful lot lately is ‘where is Adelaide’s best café?’. A number of local news and social pages have put the call out recently to their social media followers to try and find out who reigns supreme among the people. These polls always attract a huge number of people ready to sling their local caffeine dealer a vote. (On a side note, if you have recently voted for us in one of these polls: cheers!)
So where is the best café in Adelaide? That’s the million-dollar question! There are a huge number of operators that could easily push their case for Adelaide’s best café. Some of my personal favourites include Coffee Barun- Sefton Park, Cream- Brighton, The Loose Caboose- Hindmarsh and Mister Sunshine’s- Thebarton. First Things First Coffee goes alright too I guess…
What actually goes into making a killer cafe? Is it simply having Adelaide’s best coffee? Is it having a huge range of different origins and blends to choose from? Is it a rock solid food menu? Is it the length of the baristas beard?
The fact is; we all have different needs and preferences. What I want from my café may be completely different to what you want from your café.
At First Things First Coffee we pride ourselves on being a specialty coffee shop first and foremost- only we don’t look like your typical specialty coffee shop at all! We understand that our customers certainly want the best that the coffee industry has got but they want it quickly and conveniently. We only serve one blend- ‘Ex-Wife’ by Code Black Coffee Roasters. Having just the one high quality blend helps us keep it simple and keep the service fast and efficient. To contrast this, many specialty coffee shops at any given time will have a vast array of different blends and single origins on offer. Some of these will be for espresso, some for milk, some for cold drip… the list goes on! I love visiting these places on the weekend and spending a couple of hours sipping away on the various offerings and enjoying the scope of flavours while I catch up with friends and chat about the craziness of the week gone by.
So my question is; which café is better? The one that I quickly swung past on my way to work on Monday morning for a latte and a toastie, or the one with the wall of different coffees that I spent 2 hours at on the weekend? It’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges isn’t it!
The other huge consideration here is taste preference. You only have to look at the coffee flavour wheel to appreciate the huge scope of flavours that can come from our favourite beverage. Some coffees are citrusy and florally, whereas some are nutty or chocolaty. Some of us like coffee with a huge complexity of interesting flavours while some of us just like coffee that tastes like coffee! What you like may be completely different to what your best mate or your partner likes.
The one thing I think we can all agree on is that for a café to be considered any good, they must be consistent! When I think of my shortlist of the best Adelaide cafés, all the venues on the list have one thing in common: consistency! So often I hear the following; “I love (café x) but only when (barista x) is working”… Isn’t it a horrible feeling when that delicious coffee that you’ve been looking forward to (and handed over your hard-earned for) turns out to be a dud!
Consistency is brought about by two main things: well trained, knowledgeable baristas and good procedures. It seems obvious, but so many establishments will throw a fresh, undertrained, nervous staff member out on the coffee machine well before they’re ready. I once heard a story of a new staff member at a café being left to man the coffee machine unsupervised. They sent out a couple of lattes, which were quickly sent straight back. The customer described them as ‘awfully grainy’… Turns out the new staff member had put coffee grind straight into the cup, stirred in some hot water then added milk- just like an instant coffee! At First Things First Coffee a new staff member will train for nearly 2 whole months before they’re even allowed to make a customer’s coffee without supervision. I know many Adelaide cafes thankfully place a similar emphasis on training.
Having good procedures also significantly decreases the chances of a bad coffee going out to a customer. Consistency across variables like brew ratios, extraction times, milk temperatures and pouring techniques all help to bring about consistent product; regardless of who is working.
There are a myriad of Adelaide cafes that are adored by their regulars and could easily push their case for best in the city. We all have our favourites. For many of us they’ve become a part of every day life as well as a social hub. We all have different needs from our cafes. Some of us like to sit and enjoy the whole experience; some of us just need our coffee hit quickly! Some of us value breadth of choice; some of us like to keep it simple. Regardless of your preferences the one thing that we can all agree on is that for a café to be worth our custom, consistency is key!
So where is Adelaide’s best café? I’ll let you be the judge!