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Published April 22nd 2018
Great coffee & medieval 'history' with a South African twist
You may find it hard to believe but tucked away on the industrial edge of the quiet southern suburb of Hillcrest is a coffee experience like no other in Brisbane. This one blends great coffee with a strange medieval history and a South African twist: I said you'd find it hard to believe! On the recommendation of friends I ducked into this unique establishment for some Paulfection - coffee made by resident barista Paul Hardess - and I got more than I bargained for.
Lord Crema Coffee shares space with D'stoep Kafee, a colourful South African shop/takeaway, serving delicious South African comfort food made from 'South African Grandma recipes". It's a small shop with a small outdoor seating area and a large local and South African expat clientele. And it's not hard to see why. Their shelves groan with South African staples and delicacies and I can personally vouch for the deliciousness of their vetkoek (fried dough bread). While D'stoep had the food side of the business really well covered what was missing was excellent coffee. Enter Paul Hardess.
A wide selection of South African food at D'stoep Kafee
Paul is a former film-maker who says that at school he most enjoyed what he calls the 'bludge subjects' — film and television and cooking and food studies. From these his twin passions were born. He indulged the first, film-making, for a few years, all the while increasing his interest in, and talent for, coffee. He convinced his parents that they needed a commercial-grade coffee machine at home (who doesn't?) and began perfecting the art of the cap-paul-cino to rave reviews from family and friends.
On a visit to D'stoep, Paul got talking with the owner about coffee and jumped behind the counter to assist with coffee-making. From little things, big things grow and pretty soon Paul had reached an agreement to set up his own coffee business on the D'stoep premises. He purchased a La Marzocco coffee machine and spent months tasting coffee from local roasters, finally deciding on multi award-winning Arabica Coffee as the bean of choice, and opened Lord Crema Coffee in January. This is where one would normally say " ...and the rest is history", but at this point it's better to ask the question "Just who is Lord Crema?" I'm glad you asked because this is where the medieval 'history' comes in.
Over a superb iced coffee, story-teller Paul, who described himself as "Lord Crema's humble servant", told me the short version of the history of Lord Crema: you'll find the full version on the website here. It's a strange Middle Ages tale of the narcoleptic prisoner, Lord Crema, who, as torture, was introduced to 'The Beverage' by a wicked king. 'The Beverage' kept him awake and made him strong enough to break out, with the beverage plant in hand. He spent many years perfecting 'The Beverage', which he called 'coffee', and acquired a castle and a beautiful wife (Lady Crema) along the way. He detailed his research and recipes in his memoirs, which are now in Paul's possession.
Believe what you will, but as Paul expands his coffee offerings, each new menu item will be accompanied by another instalment of the story of Lord Crema. His latest addition is the 'Lady Crema', whose recipe is, of course, a closely guarded secret.
I've said in many of my previous cafe reviews that I'm not a coffee connoisseur, but I enjoy a good cup of joe and I know what I like, and I've really enjoyed both the cappuccino and iced coffee I've had on my two visits to Lord Crema. They were velvety smooth and creamy, with no bitterness. I'm a big fan of a good iced coffee, and the versions I've had in some large chains have (pardon the pun) left me cold. Not so at Lord Crema. My iced coffee was one of the best I've had at a Brisbane cafe.
Add home-cooked South African food, excellent friendly service, and interesting conversation with alter-ego Paul, to the coffee mix and you've got a recipe for tasty success. Paul is already getting good reviews and repeat business from the surrounding industrial and suburban areas. I'll be coming back for more Paulfection (and vetkoeks), just like I keep coming back to the question, "Who really is Lord Crema?". I'll let you decide.
A friendly sentinel guards the entrance to D'stoep Kafee and Lord Crema Coffee