Corner House, 29 Union St, Newcastle, Mon-Fri: 7am-2pm, Sat: 7.30am-1pm
The Paradox blend by Single Origin Roasters has always deserved a safe place to stay here in Newcastle and, thanks to its local guardians Sophie and Jack Ericksson, it has found one at Corner House on Union Street. To dismiss or describe these Ethiopian, Brazilian and New Guinean beans as just another fancy bag of coffee would be an oversight and an understatement.
It would equate with assuming that Corner House itself is just another photogenic cafe around Cooks Hill. It is, of course, a vividly stylish shopfront to sit in and drink a cup of coffee. And if fancy means sourced and roasted with exquisite care and attention, then the Paradox blend might just have to wear the exotic shoes that it fits in.
But plenty of cafes in Newcastle look nice and serve great coffee. The reason why so few of them are as thoroughly excellent as Corner House is simple – these guys are thorough and excellent at what they do. You can spot it a mile off and you can taste it immediately.
Curiously enough, the Paradox blend is actually described by its roasters as exhibiting moments of contemplation. I don’t exactly know what that means but when they then say it is as balanced as a Buddha it begins to make more sense. There is an uncomplicated alchemy in the coffee here. A fruity, highland Limmu bean from Ethiopia, a New Guinean Arabica and a bold Brazilian from Mogiana. It is a fancy recipe but at the same time it’s anything but. Spicy, fruity and sweet. Simple. It’s Zen and the art of flavour maintenance.
Order a latte ($4) out the front, in an atrium of refinement, and then drink it out the back in the Corner House garage. It’s an unpretentious, Newcastle end to a cultivated Sydney beginning. It’s Sophie’s years of coffee experience at Single Origin, her professional expertise at designing cafe spaces and her husband Jack’s history working for Harley Davidson. As though Sophie and her steam wand were whistling softly out the front while Jack and his exhausts bellowed out the back. These two Buddhas strike a mighty fine balance.
But don’t actually expect any unwelcome noise at this house on the corner. It may be a garage out here but it sure doesn’t feel like one. The greasy workshops of Union Street are long gone. This is pastel-coloured bicycle and poke bowl country now. Expect small dogs napping in the morning sun, birdsong and Scandinavian furniture. Expect a double shot of bliss.
This rustic yet functional ambience is of course no accident. Sophie tells me that Corner House was designed with the working coffee drinker in mind. An elegant breakfast and lunch menu neatly complements the Corner House experience as well. The smoked salmon ($17.50), topped with goat’s fetta, dill, radish, rocket, lemon oil and a poached egg is yet another delicious example of flavours well balanced.
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