My boyfriend and his father are coffee snobs. It’s just a fact. Whereas I’m perfectly content with my Tim Horton’s double milk, thankyouverymuch, they’re into “long blacks,” “pour overs,” and “single origins.” Before I moved to Australia, I had no idea what those words even meant. (I’m still unsure of what makes a good pour over.) But I do have to admit that Australia does produce some mighty fine coffee. Most of the really excellent coffee is roasted in Melbourne, but luckily enough we also have some decent roasters in Canberra. One of these is Red Brick Espresso in the suburb of Curtin.
The three of us discovered the café on a whim. We were dining out at a Braddon restaurant when we noticed that they served a brand of coffee we had never heard of before. That wasn’t going to fly. The following week we sought out Red Brick for an early breakfast and a brand new coffee.
Not surprisingly, the café boasts a distinctive red brick exterior surrounded by small steel tables and folding chairs. The interior design of the café is more impressive. The feel of the design is decidedly country. A large black-and-white mural decorates the wall opposite the front entrance; the concrete floor and wooden paneled roof make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a farmhouse or rustic barn. The décor is appealing and a distinct cross between contemporary and an eighteenth-century West Country home. However, most of the space is dominated by an enormous roaster. While it fits with the theme of the café, the roaster also inhabits a lot of valuable table space.
Although Curtin is quite far from Canberra Civic, Red Brick seems to turn over their fair share of takeaway coffees. As we sat perusing their compact breakfast menu, we must have counted at least twenty takeaways being pushed out to waiting patrons. The people who work at the café are quite friendly, but somewhat aloof. We were given menus, told to order at the counter, and left to fend for ourselves for the entirety of our meal.
As aforementioned, my fellow diners are quite the coffee addicts, so they were mostly looking forward to trying their new find’s brew. When their flat whites and my cappuccino arrived, we were a bit disappointed. The flavour was okay, but the espresso was very weak so the coffee tasted more like warm milk than anything else. My only suggestion when you grab a coffee at Red Brick Espresso is to order a double-shot. The double-shot in our second coffee perked up the flavour and we could finally taste the espresso. In conclusion, I believe Red Brick’s coffee deserves a 6/10.
The food, thankfully, fared much better than the first round of coffee. My Shakshuka Baked Eggs ($14.90) were fantastic! I’m not overly enthused about tomato-based baked eggs, but I really enjoyed Red Brick’s version. The eggs, swimming along in their well-seasoned tomato bath, were cooked through and had a wonderfully crispy top. The Persian feta was creamy, salty, and worked perfectly with the acidity of the tomato broth, and the coriander garnish added a nice kick.
My boyfriend’s Coconut and Mango Waffles ($13.90) were also very tasty. My first (and only) bite reminded me of a summery piña colada. The mango was fresh and sweet and the flaked coconut was lovely. Red Brick cooks their waffles well, but they do have a bit of a bite to them as they’re very crispy. I’m part of the soft-waffle camp so the crisp didn’t appeal to me as much, but they did have a delicious buttery flavour.
Although I’m still no expert in the finer points of the single origin, I can confidently say that Red Brick Espresso serves decent coffee for a Canberra-based roaster. Next time you’re near the Curtin shops, go take a gander around their timeless country décor and grab yourself a (double-shot) cappuccino to go. If you’re planning to head out for brunch this weekend, maybe put these guys on your list. Red Brick’s food is fab and definitely worth the twenty minute drive.