I don't have a problem with coffee, I have a problem without it. And, I follow a strict diet resembling an unsupervised child at a birthday party - but I prefer the socially-accepted term "foodie". Hold on, I'm eating!! IG @perthscrazycoffeelady
Published December 13th 2016
Coffees are like children - you never admit favourites
In my not-so-humble opinion, today's on-trend venues in Perth have a tendency to become bogged down in irrelevant details. Are the recycled decor items mismatched enough (honestly, anyone would think it has become a competition)? How low can bare light bulbs hang before someone gets electrocuted? Does the food absurdly overboard enough for a picture to go viral on Instagram ("Freakshakes", I'm looking at you)? Do the baristas have enough tattoos, arrogance and facial hair? And a lot of the time, all of this is overcompensation for the fact that the product being sold just isn't good enough to hold its own. It's a shame, because at the end of the day, all of the other details serve little purpose without the food, coffee and/or drinks being served. As much as I can respect a well-groomed beard, it is absolutely no good to me if the human its growing on cannot serve a decent cup of joe. Talk about unrealistic expectations of a beard, seriously. But I digress.
Recess on Barrack have their priorities straight - the focus is solely on the coffee.
The decor is modest, the mural installation by Perth artist, Kyle Hughes-Odgers is gorgeous without being in-your-face, the food offerings are minimal (but in no way lacking), the tasteful background music has more often-than-not enticed me to remove my headphones and opt for listening to it instead, and the space is open and relaxed. All this makes for the perfect setting within which to get down to the important business.
Cue: Loaded Roasters
Triple Espresso - Ethiopian Single Origin 'Chelelektu'
Recess on Barrack offer only the finest selection of single origins. I was lucky enough to sample their 'Chelelektu', which was gorgeously unique with strong tasting notes of grape and citrus fruits. It was also supposedly noted to have lavender and vanilla flavours, but the oh-so-insanely-knowledgeable baristas were able to inform me that these flavours dissipated after a few days in the hopper. On another occasion, I had their Colombian Single Origin 'Bruselas' which was wafting green apple. Guys, GREEN APPLE. In COFFEE.
Triple Espresso - Colombian Single Origin 'Bruselas'
Normally when I rant and carry on about coffee and tasting notes, most people give me the deer-in-headlights blankness from not having the slightest clue what I'm talking about. It's as if I have some alien tongue detecting superhuman flavours or as if I'm drinking a completely different beverage than they are because "it just tastes like coffee" (similar to how I look at people when they talk about wine flavours - totally lost on me). If you're new to the wonderful world of coffee, or if you're an experienced drinker looking to advance your palate, you cannot go past this place. This grape tasting note has completely blown me away, I've never experienced this in Perth coffee before. And not in the psychosomatic way of assuming flavours because they're written on the bag, but even the most inexperienced coffee drinker with a virgin palate could taste it themselves. The coffee is THAT GOOD.
And the food is lovely - can't go wrong with Holy Bagel Co. bagels! This Hawaiian Bagel had red onion, ham, pineapple and a hefty amount of cheese - delish!
Recess on Barrack also do this super cool thing called Nitro Coffee which still seems to be in its infancy, not yet having gained much traction here in Perth. But move over cold brew and cold drip, there's a new icy lovechild on the block. Nitro Coffee, for those who may not have had the pleasure, comes off tap after being infused with nitrogen, pressurized and stored in a keg. The nitrogen affects a number of variables but most notably, the taste and texture ("mouth feel") of the brew. Nitro coffee tends to be crisper and sweeter, allowing otherwise milk-and-sugar-over loaders to go black. The mouth feel is much smoother and silkier, with a foam layer atop.
Coffee brews are like your children (or family) - you could never admit you have a favourite per sť because you love them all "equally", but for totally different reasons, and they each have unique merits.
Some say that the nitrogen increases the speed of caffeine absorption, though there seems to be some science lacking behind that theory to date. Give it a go yourself and let us know your verdict. Otherwise, theorise it is the coffee-to-water ratio. Whatever the underlying factor, anything promising a faster caffeine hit deserves a go, in my books!
Kenyan Light & Dark Nitro Coffees - visually similar, but worlds apart in flavour
When my fellow coffee aficionados of Recess on Barrack informed me they were in fact offering two flavours of nitro brew, the overwhelming pressure of the choice was way too unrealistic to battle alone on the spot, so I had to get both. It was like dying and going to heaven. I was advised to get milk (much to my secret disgust), and warned the dark brew can be "a bit too much for some people"... Challenge accepted!
The staff were kind enough to entertain my finical disdain and served my milk on the side, enabling me to sample all four variations - dark brew with and without milk, and the light brew with and without milk.
The black dark brew was my pick of the four (not surprisingly, as some might affectionately say it matches my equally dark soul) with a strong fruit-forward flavour. The light brew, with a note of brown sugar and a sweet toffee fragrance, was pleasant and polite in its mildness, making it easily likable and typical of a crowd pleaser. As expected, the milk versions tempered down the flavours, but they would definitely be more palatable for those who enjoy such things.
This is a big call for anyone who knows me, but I'm going to make it - Recess on Barrack is my favourite cafe and in my view, rightfully deserving of the title of BEST COFFEE OF 2016.