The best coffee shops in eastern suburbs Sydney (for old men in lycra)

The best coffee shops in Eastern Suburbs (for old men in lycra)

View from Malabar Beach Cafe

Members of the Dream Team are fickle and opinionated when it comes post-ride coffee shops. So when we find one we all like, it must be good to keep these grumpy old men happy.

But how do we decide whether we like a coffee shop or not?

It really comes down to understanding the individuals and their idiosyncracies. So this is an attempt explain our unwritten rules in the vain hope someone out there may find this remotely useful. I have then used these criteria to review a few coffee shops we frequent.

This is not a robust approach, but it’s novel. And for that I’ll give myself a pat on the back. It’s also not an exhaustive list of coffee shops. It’s a start to which I intend to add to over time. So feel free to send me your favourite coffee shops in Eastern Suburbs and the Dream Team will (try to) make a visit and I’ll add to this review.

Criteria 1: Quality of the coffee

One Shoe and Glorious are happy if the quality of the coffee is good. For One Shoe, if it’s Toby’s Estate, then he’s content and we avoid his 30-minute diatribe on the state of the world’s coffee production.

Glorious is more exacting. The coffee should not be too strong or too weak, sort of like pasta being done al dente. This means exactly the right amount of coffee beans need to be ground to make the perfect strength coffee. His pallet is finely calibrated, so he knows whether the barista has used too many or too few beans (to within two beans). The milk must be freshly heated and not reheated or mixed from different milk jugs. Failure to do so ruins his day.  It also ruins everyone else’s around him.

Criteria 2: Price

Pant’s is driven purely by cost. His mood after a cycle is directly correlated to the price of a bacon and egg roll and coffee. He has an emotional benchmark of around ten dollars. Under it, and he is very chirpy. Around ten dollars and he is on a knife-edge. If he pays slightly above, storm clouds gather overhead.  The further you get from the magical ten-dollar mark, the closer he is to going on a killing spree like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, especially if he hasn’t brought enough money with him. The sweat beads dripping down his face is an early warning sign he is about to blow like mount Vesuvius.

Criteria 3: handling the sauce and egg test

I am happiest when my egg is soft and runny and without sauce. Pants likes his egg decimated and loves sauce. One shoe likes tabasco rather than the typical tomato or barbecue sauce. Glorious changes his mind between muesli and fruit compote or bacon and egg roll, and then switches sauce choice, often when the waiter is taking down the order.  Ass likes barbecue sauce. This causes much confusion for the egg and bacon chef in the kitchen. It takes a lot to get it right. If they do, then they have a loyal set of customers in the Dream Team.

Criteria 4: Location

The perfect coffee shop to meet this criteria would be this:

  • First put a cross on a map to show where each of us live.
  • Then draw a line from every house to every other person’s house, so you get 36 intersecting lines.
  • The most lines crossing in the same place is the middle.
  • Walk to that point on a map. Spin yourself around 10 times with your eyes closed. Look up and walk in that direction until you come to a coffee shop. 
  • This coffee shop is the best. It doesn’t have to be a pretty location; it just needs to be as close as possible everyone’s house. The less time to travel home, the more time we have for coffee.

The review

So it’s not a surprise we tend to move around a bit. Saying that, we do have favourites and below are a few, rated using the Dream Team Coffee Ratingstmsystem.

Key:

  • Eq = emotional state of Pants, based on price
  • Q = coffee quality
  • L = location
  • SE = sauce and egg test

 1.    Café Japon, La Perouse Road, Randwick

Cafe Japon, a short hop from the Spot in Randwick

Café Japon, as its name suggests, has a Japanese feel to it. Accompanying the traditional brekkie menu are Japanese dishes. They also exhibit artwork and have poetry nights.  It has a very different feel to your standard eastern suburb coffee shop. The downside is that it’s situated on a roundabout. This is our current favourite.

  • Eq: Pants has a nervous twitch in his right eye. The price is slightly over a tenna
  • Q: high, it’s Toby’s Estate
  • L: on the border of Ass and One Shoes tolerance level
  • SE: never get the sauces wrong; egg can be hit or miss

Overall Dream Team score: 7.5/10

2.    Sugar café, Bondi Junction

This little coffee shop is tucked away down a side street next to Bike Bar Bondi. This is a favourite amongst cyclists because of its proximity to Centennial Park.

  • Eq: Fruit toast needs a mortgage to pay for it.  Pants acts and looks like Walter Kurtz, the green beret gone mad in Apocalypse Now
  • L: much closer to the Ass and One Shoe’s home. Not that close to anyone else
  • SE: can’t afford a bacon and egg roll, let alone the sauce

Overall Dream Team score: 3/10

3.    Malabar Beach Café, Malabar

This beauty is on the roundabout right on the bay of Malabar. The views are amazing and on a clear day, you really appreciate the best of Sydney. The service is also great.

  • Eq: Pants on a knife’s edge, but the views seem to calm him down
  • Q: good
  • L: too far away for Ass and One Shoe, so we only go when they are not cycling
  • SE: no problems with potential sauce confusion, egg hit or miss

Overall Dream Team score: 8.5/10

4.    Spot Espresso, La Perouse Road, Randwick

Picked this place because it’s about half way between where Glorious lives in Maroubra and Ass lives in North Bondi. It’s right next to the Royal pub in Randwick.

  • Eq: chirpy – do a cheaper bacon and egg wrap option, so Pants is jumping up and down like he’s won the lottery
  • L: 100 yards closer to home for Ass than Café Japon
  • SE: ALWAYS put sauce in mine. And the default is sickly brown barbecue sauce. I need an adrenaline shot to keep me alive

Overall Dream Team score: 6.5/10

5.    Billy’s Bar Espresso, Pacific Square, Maroubra

A new one for midweek rides. So new, only a couple of us have tested it and no one has tasted the bacon and egg roll. It’s on the route from La Perouse back to Maroubra and Randwick. Under new management, Glorious has given it the seal of approval for the standard of coffee.

  • Eq: Pants hasn’t been to this one, but coffee cost alone is average
  • L: perfect for midweek rides for those going to La Perouse
  • SE Test: not tried yet

Overall Dream Team score: 6/10

6.    Centennial Park café

We go here if we’ve been lazy and did a few laps round the park. The deck-like flooring around the coffee shop and restaurant is a disaster zone for cyclists wearing cleats if it has been raining. If there has been rain, watch cyclists walk like puppets out of Thunderbirds as they collect their coffees.

  • Eq: Pants is a bit twitchy and rocks backwards and forwards in his chair as he pays slightly over his tolerance level
  • L: it’s the perfect middle point for all of us
  • SE Test: used to cook them fresh, but now they’re pre-done and put in a grill to warm up. Twice cooked egg not my cup of tea

Overall Dream Team score: 6.5/10

And the winner is…

Although Malabar has the highest score, we only go when the boys from the Bondi end of town aren’t riding. Café Japon ticks most of the boxes for most of us. The service is good and so is the coffee. It’s a central location, which makes it convenient for all of us to get back after a ride. You don’t want to be riding too far after a relaxing coffee.

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Comment by dr bean on January 18, 2012 at 12:12pm

'Pants'? 'One Shoe'? 'Glorious'? What sort of riding do you guys do, Andy? (And is your 'gang' legal? I was wondering if you were, in fact, confused pirates... :-)

Sounds like a fun caper you have going on there - thanks for sharing your 'semi-robust but novel' approach. Now, if only I can work out some similar means for locating the perfect caramel slice!

Comment by Andy Moore on January 18, 2012 at 12:52pm

Ha, no, I changed the names to protect the innocent.

I think confused pirates is not a bad description of our motley crew.

Comment by Andy Moore on January 19, 2012 at 8:23pm

Thanks for the heads up re the group and the coffee shop. And thanks for the comments.

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