Curtin’s open for coffee — at Red Brick Espresso
by Barrister Barista
Happy Valentine’s, dear Reader!
A while back we got an email from a Canberra cofficionado, reminding us that we were ‘people who have little to no knowledge of the coffee world’. Our gift to you on this most romantic of Thursdays is to pass on some of their ‘did you knows,’ so that we can be enlightened together. Who knows, maybe you’re planning to wow someone with coffs this very weekend?
Coffee drinker of Canberra, did you know that Lava Espresso service a delicious filter coffee, the art of which is so sacred that a magical man named Matt Perger came all the way from Melbourne (St ALi) to teach them how to make it (St Ali)? Nup, we didn’t either, but we have drunk of the filter coffee and it is pretty delicious.
And did you know ‘ONA coffee’ are the ‘only locally owned specialty coffee wholesalers who have a ‘beanhunter’ who travels to coffee farms and directly sources beans to be shipped exclusively to their cafes’, including the locally roasted Geisha from Panama’? We didn’t, but luckily, we could read about that online, thanks to ONA’s regular updates.
We are such ignoramuses that we also didn’t know that ‘Red Brick Espresso in Curtain [sic] use Sensory Lab and St Ali coffee from Melbourne’ or that ‘they have also just begun roasting in house in a massive geisen which is quite impressive tucked in the corner of their shop’. This not because ‘it is ‘unimportant to know where the cafe sources its coffee’, but rather, because it’s tricky finding this information on the minimalist redbrickespresso.com.au/. Remedy? A trip to Curtin (the ex-PM, not the window coverings).
We popped in for our conjugal visit (the visit from which a blog post is conceived) on a weekday afternoon, on a rare Canberra-based day off. Driving to Curtin, it’s not so bad. It’s like driving between Woden and Civic but you turn left early (off Yamba Drive). And as far as Canberra blue-signed-‘shops’ go, Curtin is a good one. There’s a Coles, and off-licence, a second-hand-bookstore, a hairdresser and hippy grocery store (yup – it’s the southside’s own Choku Bai Jo). There are probably more things, like chemists, you’ll have to check out The Location for yourselves.
So, The Scene is set – lively local shopping enclave. A bit highway-y around the edges, so not too many trees on the exposed side where Red Brick Espresso is. Edge of nowhere, milk crates, and tables outside without (?) umbrellas. Corridor Kitchen has things to say about milk crates – namely, that Canberrans must be drinking a fair amount of milk (and here we were thinking black coffee was back). An older man tries out the milk-crate-perch self-consciously, and The Hipster Factor makes us smile. Without that perfect weather, we move inside, where The Soundtrack (Coldplay and Something for Kate (could it be?)) drags The Hipster Factor downwards.
Eh voila, Red Brick Espresso, the little cafe that could… The size, The Decor, they’re like those of an artsy ’90s schoolroom – long and skinny, drawings of trees on the walls, nothin’ fancy like curtains or rugs or paintings. The counter is in front of the door, with windowseat tables both ways, and a big exciting roaster is yonder, near round tables. The Greeting is kind of not forthcoming – we’re the first ones to speak with our ‘hellos could we order pleases’. We show ourselves to the only free table, way down back next to Mr Ooh La La Coffee Roaster. On our weekday visit, the place is packed, which means maybe 5 groups of 1-3 people.
Observations while waiting for coffee. The Prices are good – the standard $3.50/$4/$4.50 upsizes, and only $3 for a piccolo. The Temperature of the place is up there; we shed jackets. It’s all windows (pretty) and all sun (phew), and we’re guessing that the heat of coffee and food prep sticks around. Re: The Space, it struck us that the back corner was oddly used. At one point The Waitress started repackaging beans in our corner (The Aroma, to die for), and we felt a bit in the way. We would have moved if she needed us to. Just sayin’.
Observations while drinking coffee. The Long (Black) is not as hot as we like it (for longevity purposes) but cheerful and fruity. We get our pleasant tongue-numbing sensation, and spot a few grains at the end without a grudge. The Short (Piccolo Latte) is not as pretty as we like it, having watched The Barista make himself a stellar selfie. Milk foam is a bit bubbly and is definitely not hot. Beneath is bright and brassy and rounded – flavour that spreads from our tongue out into our cheeks (apologies, this may or may not be a thing). The Pour aside, this little thimble is our Red Brick cup of the month (from 4 coffs), and we’re ready to conclude that this magical self-roast of St Ali (was it?) goes best with milk.
The Latte Word: Red Brick Espresso receives nothing but praise on Beanhunter , and we’re loath to detract from that. It’s clearly a thriving local cafe slash ‘scene’, doing beans the DIY way and food the gluten free way (mostly). Our ‘area for improvement’ would be in the realm of customer service. We’re squirming to say it, but in such a small space, it’s obvious when staff aren’t friendly. We mourned the little things – the smiles, the taking away of old cups, offers of second coffees, water to the table… We’ve smelled their beans, and we’re hooked. Our rate of return may vary, depending.
It’s great that our readers tell us about stuff, especially when stuff serves coffee seven days a week (win). Do you know more about coffee than we do? Come on, you can brag. Shall we visit your favourite coffee place? Let us know in comments.
Red Brick Espresso
Shop 4/35 Curtin Place (Corner Carruthers St)
(02) 6285 1668
Mon-Fri 7:30 am – 4:30 pm
Sat: 7:30 am – 4:00 pm
Sun: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm