The coffee machine – a white Sanremo Opera – looks like something out of the Thunderbirds. The logo has been burned into the custom-finished wood front. It’s the centerpiece of this stylish café newcomer, as it should be – Frankie’s Beans Specialty Coffee Roasters are serious about coffee.
Perched on the side of The Elan the café makes good use of an oddly-shaped space. The well-lit barista and kitchen area is nicely framed using a white ceiling a row of spotlights.
The lower-lit seating area keeps some height, and uses theatrical technique to keep your eyes on the barista, by painting all the fixtures black.
After placing an order at the counter, we pull up some banquette and an ergonomic Scando-style wooden chair; finally slowing enough to appreciate the finer details. Below our feet are shiny polished concrete floors. In one corner a stylish Gramovox vertical record player is spinning vinyl (with less chance of damaging it); while on another wall there’s a white coffee grinder with shiny copper fittings. It all adds up to a beautifully put together space.
We began our caffeine journey with our usual poisons – a Latte ($3.50) and a Flat White ($3.50) – made with Frankie’s award-winning 3 Colombians blend. This coffee is made using single origin Colombian beans that have been roasted three different ways, and then blended by café owner, Frank Andrews. I found it to be smooth and fairly quiet, not throwing either chocolate or fruit, but giving me a balanced, easy-to-like cup with good crema.
In terms of eats, the Bacon & Egg Roll ($10) here is a beauty. Presented on a milk bun pimped out with Haloumi ($4), it’s further enhanced by Frank’s special barbaioli sauce (a blend of BBQ and aioli).
I’d be hard pressed to think of a better bacon’n’egg roll I've had in recent years.
For something more homely, and more possible to eat on the go, the Lamb Jaffle ($10) is your menu go-to. Filled with a generous amount of long-strand, 8-hour slow-cooked lamb, cheese and tzatziki, it only wanted for a whisker more salt.
After we’d taken the edge off our hunger, we had a chat with Frank about his own personal coffee revolution – F.A.B. ($4). It’s short for Fractional Atmospheric Brewing, and in a nutshell, it’s a way to use a modification on the espresso machine to create a pour-over style coffee without the high price tag, or the long wait. The modification reduces the atmospheric pressure that water is introduced to the ground coffee, from about 9 bar (nine times the atmospheric pressure at sea level) to less than 1 bar. Sanremo built the modificed parts, and were so impressed with the results, there’s talk of them making this modification an option on their machines going forward.
We give it a whirl with a single-origin coffee from the high elevation K'ach'ur region of Ethiopia. Frank gave it to us in the standard fifteen grams dose, which gives it a bit more body. What you should expect is a cleaner, more delicate brew than your standard espresso shot. This allows you to discover more of the coffee’s characteristics, like floral notes, and more subtle acidity. The flavour also develops and changes as it cools.
"Who am I to tell you how to have your coffee - milk, sugar etcetera? Though we’d like you to try it without,” Frank finishes our conversation reassuringly. He’s quietly persuasive though, and I have no doubt that if I became a regular, I’d soon be walking in and asking for an 11.5 gram Ethiopian F.A.B ($4).
I’d also ask for a Portuguese custard tart – they’re pretty fab. too!
Shop 3, 1 Kings Cross Road, Darlinghurst
Ph: (02) 8759 5029