Bench Espresso is no doubt one of West End's best kept secrets. Tucked away in a small corner just down the road from West End's main strip of cafes and shops, Bench Espresso makes for a great place for a quiet 'time-out' from the typical West End's bustling atmosphere, the product from a blend of different cultures. If you're after a relaxed ambience in a cafe that does not know what bad coffee means, then Bench is probably the right place for you.
In case you're wondering how I chanced upon this hidden gem, I actually ran into Margaret, whose son Owen manages Bench with his partner Belinda - Margaret recognised Eddy and I from WeekendNotes, and came up to say hello! What are the chances? Since I was only round the corner from Bench, I figured that I must pay them a visit.
Owen and Belinda have been working as baristas for over 10 years now, which is reflected in the quality of their coffee. Do a quick search online, and you will find nothing but positive (or more than positive) feedback. In addition to being experienced baristas, Owen and Belinda also have a keen interest in art, which they incorporated into Bench - Bench is not just an espresso bar, but also an art gallery, and hub of other 'rad' items.
Their interest in art is evident in their business cards!
The art on display at Bench are works by local artists, with exhibitions changing every 3 to 4 weeks. The current exhibition is titled 'PHUNK', an exhibition by Reuben Stocks, a Brisbane based visual artist. This exhibition is Reuben's first solo exhibition, consisting of a collection of his recent work - mixed media canvas, wood boards, prints and other goodies. The next exhibition is titled 'Antihero', a collection of horror, 80s toon, and type inspired work by Prone, showing from 27th October 2016.
Some of Reuben Stocks' work on display inside the espresso bar.
They also have heaps of stickers on display - I really enjoyed how the stickers appeared as though they were stuck on randomly (and they may well be), but the flooding of colours and text and images seem to blend nicely into creative pieces of art. I really liked one of the stickers, "in dog we trust", and asked Owen where he got them from - he told me that the majority of his stickers come from his clients, and very kindly gifted one of the "in dog we trust" stickers to Eddy and I. Thank you so much!
Being an espresso bar, Bench does not serve food as such but instead has an extensive menu of drink items, including a range of coffees, teas, cold pressed juices from HRVST ST, and other cold drinks. As it was a really hot day on the day we visited, we opted for the cold pressed juices to help cool ourselves down. I had Ruby Tuesday (watermelon, lime, pink lady apple, rhubarb, and pear), and my friend had Endless Summer (lemon, pineapple, cayenne pepper). I had a sip of Endless summer, as I was intrigued by the fact that a cold pressed juice had pepper as an ingredient - it was spicy yet refreshing at the same time, but surprisingly it was a good blend of flavours!
Aside from house made cold brews available for purchase, Bench also sells packaged bags of coffee beans, for the caffeine addicts who just can't get enough of the coffees here. Take Home Beans are available at $17.00 for a 250g package, with coffee beans roasted and packed in Australia.
Eddy and I had such a lovely morning - Bench Espresso was the perfect place to escape from the afternoon heat, with plentiful shady areas and an extensive range of cold drinks to choose from. Service was quick, and Owen and Belinda were very friendly and made us, Eddy in particular, feel right at home - this was despite it being our very first visit!