A new coffee place has just opened up in the lovely fish bowl of Chapel Hill. As a quiet, homely, and family-oriented residential suburb in the mid to high socio-economic status range, locals often flock to new establishments, eager to offer their full support and patronage to small local businesses. But they are just as quick to decide whether a business deserves or not of their hard earned dollar. And it's a surprisingly coffee-savvy bunch in the Kenmore - Chapel Hill area.
Sin Bin Espresso opened right across the road from established deli- café Simon's Gourmet Gallery (affectionately known as Simon's). The competitors sit directly across each other, straddling busy Moggill Road. And at 6am on the 17th it was game on! Sin Bin has slaughtered Simon's on the coffee stakes, evident by the numbers that cross the road for their coffee. It's not surprising, as while Simon's has some great cafe food, it's expensive, often requires a long wait, and as for the coffee - it's hit and miss.
I know a whole block of businesses that were impatiently waiting to try the new place, wondering if this would be the end of their coffee woes. After almost two weeks delay in opening, judgement day came on Monday. I was surprised to see such a steady stream on a Monday. The people rolled in, and so did a tangible sense of relief- not just from the proprietor but also his customers!
Word travels quickly and I dare say it could have been make or break on that first day for Sin Bin. Working nearby, I was one of the first to smell the coffee. They have made a smart move by grinding Toby's Estate beans. Firstly, I had never seen a café in the vicinity using Toby's Estate, so it offered a point of difference straight off the bat. It provided a talking point and a sense of discovery in an area flooded by Segafredo and Merlot. Secondly, it is an amazing blend. My flat white was just perfect. At the moment, the food is limited to muffins and toasted focaccias, and simple breakfast options including bircher muesli, and beans on sourdough, which I didn't try. My only complaint is that it closes at 1pm – way too early!
At least Simon's will not lose the market on their fantastic selection of gourmet food. It's been interesting to see the small suburb coffee scene ramp up in competition lately. Hole-in-the-wall espresso bars used to populate the inner city, while leisurely, gourmet cafés like Simon's sat comfortably in the suburbs. But of late, a few espresso bars have been winning the locals over. Sin Bin has joined the competitive ranks of Local Bean and Espressivo, all within three minutes drive of each other. The latter two both have built devoted customer bases around a great cup.
It's great to see word of mouth raising the standard of our suburban eateries. We may not be spoilt for choice yet but we definitely have all bases covered and some great competition.