To market, to market: Fyshwick’s Bean & Grain

by Barrister Barista

So, The Canberran is devoted to stuff that Canberrans like. The blog Stuff White People Like is devoted to stuff that white people like, like Breakfast Places (#36), Organic Food (#6) and Farmers’ Markets (#5). Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, it’s not particularly PC , but we put it to you that Canberrans also like most of the stuff that white people like, especially the numero uno, Coffee.

Near-franchise Bean & Grain landed butter side-up at the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets in early 2012, now a blogged-about Breakfast Place for Canberrans who like Coffee, Organic Food and (sort of) Farmers’ Markets. They have a country cousin out Thredbo way, which is good for Canberrans who like Snowboarding (#31) more than Markets. The Fyshwick markets, almost 45 years old, have claimed ‘Institution’ status. They’re working 4 days a week, in a spin victory they call “keeping with the market feel“.

Wearing four badges, ‘Roasters, Bagels, Patisserie, Cafe’, the breadth of Bean & Grain smells a bit unsustainable. Al fresco settings suit Sundays and sunshine, but minus-whatever mornings make customers huddle inside. The few tables are comfy, with cushions all colours. The Vibe is confused by heart motifs, exposed powerpoints, and a ceiling of bo-beep blue. Apart from a suspiciously-clean roasting kettle, The Hipster Factor is defs low – eg, the lady at the next table has worked in your Department for decades, and she’s taking back 20 bagels for the team meeting. Baking all those bagels left the windows afog and dripping – there’s no enjoying that carpark view.

In, The Order is placed with The Waitress, country-town-friendly. The Barista is country-town-young. Breadbuying queues swell and subside, and The Service is erratic accordingly. First delivered have The Pour going for them – a wayward wiggle of leafpour. The cups are remarkably nice 90s throwbacks. The Long, full cream FW, is a foot-dragger. On arrival, it’s off-the-charts wiggly – a kind-of mystic, pronged sea-horse? It’s also kind of bubbling around the edges. The milk foam mysteriously dissolves, by itself, as if recoiling from the slightly burnt-toast crema. On the other hand, nearby soy and skimmers seem satisfied, and The Sides – on bagel or sourdough – are generous.

Between breakfast smoothie and potato croquette (bizarre freebies), it’s back to The Waitress for The Short. The plan is to pick from The Specialties for a king-hit closer – Brazilian Blue Wash, Ethiopian Harrar and Costa Rica Dota Tarrazu, to name a few. The coffee menu has been to more countries than Master Chef TM, which is good because white people/Canberrans like diversity (#7). But kids, you can’t believe everything you read (between lines) on the internets – the in-house grinders are not set up for such. Bean and Grain wanna bandwagon the online coffee trend ‘so that you can buy all the excellent coffees, teas and bagels without having to leave the comfort of your own living room!’ Aka who needs cafes when you have capsules on the couch?

Settling for the standard, The Short Black has a mucky, foamy crema, and a flavour BB’s notes call a ‘sour bitter bang’. While that could well be delicious in explosive candy, it’s not so delicious in a sip of coffee. Bean & Grain are not alone, however; long-time Canberrans claim that short coffees are systematically misunderstood. In the meantime, a little bit of a website tweak wouldn’t go astray, not least to correct ‘the art of the barrista [sic]’ – because Canberrans like correcting spelling and grammar (#99) almost as much as they like talking about it over coffee.

The Latte Word: Sourdough, yes: sour coffee, no. BB agrees that “There really is nothing like the smell of warm baked bread and freshly brewed coffee”, except maybe the smell of warm baked bread and well-brewed espresso. We hope the self-proclaimed ‘social hub of everyone’s weekly shop’ can smell their way to success.

So, what are your thoughts on this somewhat market cafe? Have you Bean & Grain?


Bean and Grain

Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets

12 Dalby St

Fyshwick ACT 2609

Telephone: 6295 9220

8.00am until 5.30pm

Thursday to Sunday