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Jafa’s* Lament

It’s hard to find good coffee in Brisbane.  In search of the perfect cup (the one that arrests your senses while smoothing your forehead), I have drunk my way through mediocrity and back several times over.

Just a few days ago I stopped by a promising venue with a steady stream of customers.  I shall name no names, but this store was located in the trendy New Farm area, featured a wide range of coffee paraphernalia, and displayed several awards for its coffee.  Maybe I was just unlucky to strike a hungover or hormonal barista, but my coffee displayed the all-too-familiar weak, milky, one-dimensional flavour that blights the otherwise thriving Brisbane cafe scene.  Another half-drunk coffee for the bin.

The major sin is a distinct lack of strength and flavour, although a too-low temperature is also common.  Soon after arriving here, I took to ordering cappuccino rather than my normal flat white, reasoning that a lower milk-to-coffee ratio would taste stronger.  This did result in a small improvement, but a further issue is the use of over-large cups.  It wasn’t until I began to order double shots, and sometimes to request two-thirds the usual amount of milk, that the coffees I ordered occasionally achieved that all important kick.  Unfortunately, grunt alone does not make for an optimal coffee experience.

This bland and featureless espresso-scape does, however, mean that the few excellent coffee shops around shine like beacons for dazed ex-Aucklanders and -Melbournites.  Last weekend we tried Campos on Wandoo St and all my troubles vanished.  Campos served up a richly nuanced Costa Rican blend at the perfect temperature in the perfect sized cup.  It was seriously good coffee, possibly even better than anything I’ve had in New Zealand.  But taste memories can sometimes be misleading.  I can’t recall having quite the same sense of “honey, I’m home” when drinking coffee in NZ, but then again, surely my experience at Campos had been tempered by months of deprivation?  A second visit is obviously required; a lascivious thought indeed, even if it is accompanied by a quiver of trepidation: can Campos compete with the ghost of last weekend’s flat white, a memory that may have already become an abstract ideal?  Is this memory, in fact, actually of the taste, which could be recreated, or of the experience, which can never be the same again?  Such problems my mind doth ponder…

Fortunately, I am possessed of a greedy disposition that interrupts my tendency to neuroticism.  Tasty coffee is good enough for me; hell yes Campos, I’ll be back.

*Jafa is the affectionate nickname bestowed on Aucklander’s by everyone in New Zealand who lives outside Auckland.  Jafa’s (which stands for “just another f**king Aucklander”), are known for their impatient driving, sense of unquestionable superiority, and love of inhaling traffic fumes while sipping coffee on Ponsonby sidewalks.  As an originally displaced Far North girl I always resisted the Jafa identity, despite living in Auckland for 15 years.  But maybe there is a little Jafa hiding in there after all…

4 Comments

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  3. Amy Leggatt

    Love this blog Chez! I am sad to hear this though will have to discuss what this means for Fre and I 😉 that coffee looks like it tastes amazing, think your onto a winner xxx

    • chezmaree

      Dammit, I forgot to ask you what you mean by this (the you and Fre part), cryptic Amy!

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