Cuttlefish Cafe in Manly, Queensland

I’ve been living on a teeny tiny island off the east coast of Australia, about 45 minutes from Brisbane.

I’ve been wanting to check out some local cafes, artists, interesting stores etc, and decided on a whim to visit the suburb of Manly which I just heard about last week.

The drive was only about 30 minutes, but the scenery comfortably went from residential to Aussie bushland in seconds as I rounded each corner — it’s so beautiful in this part of the world!  When I reached the main street of this little suburb (or town) it felt so quaint and gorgeous, and I slowed the car right down to drink in all the sights.  I only had an hour to spare today, so I’ll come back here VERY soon and have a real adventure :-)

I decided to head to the shore about two streets away, and wanted to check it out before deciding on where to stop, and oh boy what a wonderful surprise! Fabulous water front, yachts bobbing right there, swimming pool and a marvellous park which seemed a couple of kilometres long.  There were quite a few cafes and eateries, and I chose one for today, knowing I’d be back to try out a few more :-)

Manly yachts from the Cuttlefish cafe


Isn’t the view beautiful from the Cuttlefish Cafe??

Now don’t be disappointed — are you ready for this?

I didn’t have a coffee.

I know, I know, it’s a shock, shocking even, but that’s just how I felt today. I opted for icy cold water and drank about a gallon :-)

Inside Cuttlefish Cafe

The staff were lovely, the cafe very nice indeed inside.

The menu looked pretty good, and I realised this is more of a Restaurant than a cafe, although people were sitting out the front just having coffees. If I lived close by, I could easily see this becoming a favourite place to hang out.

Oh — forgot to tell you! the name is CUTTLEFISH – I love that!

I didn’t feel like a huge meal, so I chose a ham, cheese and tomato toasted sandwich – the best I’ve had for ages!! And a bargain at only $A8.00 — a little bowl of hot chips (“French fries”) was $4.00, so a pretty inexpensive lunch.

Cuttlefish Cafe Ham, Cheese, Tomato toasted sandwich

Today was the first time I’d been to this area, and I fell in love with it — I could easily see me living here (oh ohhh!). All the yachts, cute little village with cute shops, tons of cafes and restaurants — a terrific place to visit which is only 30 minutes drive for me through the wonderful Aussie bushland. Next week I’ll be back to try out some other coffee shops — yum!

Check out the key to the restrooms:-)

Cuttlefish Cafe toilet key

It’s quite common in Australia for cafes and restaurants to have locked toilet facilities, but many folks probably put the keys in their pockets and forget to give them back. This is the LARGEST deterrent I’ve seen so far :-)

Map to Cuttlefish Cafe Restaurant in Manly

The Esplanade, corner of Cardigan Street, Manly, Queensland


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Starbucks why are you still here in Australia?

I ask you, “Starbucks why are you still here in Australia?”

I recently read an article online about a series of Starbucks stores being sold to a company who was going to keep trading under the Starbucks name — what the hell?

“Last month Starbucks confirmed the sale of its 24 remaining stores in Australia to The Withers Group, which owns 600 7-Eleven outlets across the country.” (Eatability article >>)

Starbucks why are you still here in Australia?

Article above is from on 18th June 2014. 

I never did understand why Starbucks thought they could crack the Australian coffee market — after all, their American coffee tastes nothing like the REAL coffee we Australians are used to. We’ve been brought up with the best Italian coffee (yes and also Greek coffee) — but it’s the Italian coffee we love the most, I’d even go so far as to say it’s our “national drink” :-)

I’ve lived in the States (California) on and off for many years, and have tried many of their coffee franchises, but would politely smile when friends asked me how ‘great’ it was.

A couple of months ago I was visiting friends in Los Angeles and felt it my duty to check out some of the local cafés.  (You can read about Peet’s cafe where I had to order a ‘triple shot’ to get anything tasting almost like a real Australian latte.)

What I discovered was that the AMOUNT of coffee called a ‘shot’ is SO SMALL compared to what’s served in coffee shops and cafés in Sydney and Melbourne, that a triple shot only covers about half an inch in the bottom of a take-away (take out) paper cup.

Out of about 10 cafes I visited, I did however find ONE café where they knew what coffee was supposed to taste like (Cafe Laurent – check out my video!) – yay!

So getting back to Starbucks — it doesn’t surprise me at all that they didn’t last in Australia, and I’m still having a problem working out why they hung in there so long.  It’ll be interesting to see whether the new owners turn the remaining 24 Starbucks into Aussie-style coffee or stick with the Starbucks branded coffee — whatever they do, if they make their espresso coffee taste like what our tastebuds are used to here in Australia, they might have a chance of surviving.



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Metro Coffee Broadbeach is fantastic!

I live within walking distance of Metro Coffee, and have popped in about four times since they opened a few short months ago.

Today I walked over there and as always was warmly greeted by name by Zoe, which makes me feel very special. Bonus points Zoe!

If you’ve read any of my posts, you may find I’m a bit fuzzy fussy in my search for a delicious, thick and creamy strong latte, made with love by a Barista who cares.

Zoe’s got to know my tastes and served up the perfect latte today, sheer joy after my few weeks in California (check out some of my recent posts — oy vay!).

For brekkie I decided to splash out knowing it would last me all day long, so I went with scrambled eggs, bacon and tomatoes with Turkish toast.

When the dish arrived, it LOOKED divine, and after the first mouthful of tomato with pesto paste, my tastebuds were doing the rhumba! Yum yum!

Metro Coffee Broadbeach on Surf Parade

As I worked my may through my breakfast and coffee, every mouthful had me giving thanks to the coffee and food gods for this wonderful experience – I was in piggy heaven.

This was THE BEST BREAKFAST AND LATTE ON THE GOLD COAST since I arrived here almost 10 months ago, without a doubt.

If you haven’t checked them out yet, do so sooooon — say hi to Zoe for me (Teena) and tell her you read about her café on my coffee blog :-)  She’ll really like that!

Map to Metro Coffee Broadbeach

163 Surf Parade,
Broadbeach  QLD  4218

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Back on the Beach Cafe, Santa Monica CA 90402

Teena at Back on the Beach Cafe in Santa MonicaI finally got to see the Back on the Beach Cafe in Santa Monica on my second last day in L.A., which has a marvellous history Gordon has been telling me about. Nestled on the Annenberg Community Beach House site, the Cafe is a Green Business certified by the City of Santa Monica. PS — Dogs are not allowed on the site.

As we walked into the café I could see a glimpse of the ocean and the silky sand, peppered with jolly umbrellas and people enjoying their lunch. Back on the Beach Cafe - view out the window The view outside is of uninterrupted ocean, sky, beach, sand … and off in the distance is a mist-covered Catalina Island, which I love and will visit next time I’m in LA. Lunch arrives and Gordon’s seafood salad looks delish!

Seafood Salad looks delicious

Seafood Salad at Back on the Beach Cafe

My fish and chips look divine — and the special treat is sweet potato (Kumera) chips – yumm-o!

Fish and sweet potato chips at Back on the Beach Cafe Santa Monica

Fish and sweet potato chips at Back on the Beach Cafe

After our delicious lunch, we went for a walk around the Annenberg Community Beach House site – unfortunately we missed seeing inside the Guest House by about 10 minutes, so I’ll add that to my list for ‘next time’. All of the buildings were amazing, and as Gordon walked me through the story of the wealthy Annenberg family and their bequeath to the City of Santa Monica, I was fascinated to hear about it all.  The rebuild of some of the buildings has included some beautiful historical artefacts, and it’s a beautiful place to spend some time to while away the hours far from the tourist crowds.

Palm trees and sand from the Guest House

Palm trees and sand

This view is from the Guest House looking towards the ocean – isn’t it gorgeous?

View from the Guest House at Back on the Beach cafe

View from the Guest House (open until 2:00pm)

Here is a little video I made as we walked around:

Map to Back on the Beach Cafe

445 Pacific Coast Hwy (aka Palisades Beach Road) Santa Monica, CA 90402, USA Phone:(310) 393-8282 Read more about my coffee adventures in Los Angeles >>

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Peets Coffee on Montana Avenue, Brentwood

Teena drinking Peets Coffee in Brentwood - a triple shot

This morning I am meeting my friend Scott at Peet’s Coffee in Montana Avenue (Brentwood, on the edge of Santa Monica, Los Angeles, USA).

I couldn’t remember the exact last time I saw him, but I guessed it was about 15 years ago – so I was super pumped.

It has also been years since I had a Peet’s coffee (the last time was when I working in San Francisco on secondment for 3 months), but I did remember I kept trying Peet’s every day on the way to work until I worked out how much of their coffee would most taste like the Italian espresso lattes I was used to in Australia.

I needed three shots —  3 — that’s right – a TRIPLE SHOT :-)

When I told my Californian friends they were in awe of me being able to handle that much coffee — and no they’ve never been to Sydney or Melbourne, so don’t know that we are used to the best espresso from our Italians who brought the very first coffee espresso machine to Australia :-)

So today I chatted with the guy behind the counter and ordered a “triple” whilst crossing my fingers — at the same time hoping it would be perfect.

Note to self: stop looking for “perfect”, just be happy with “pretty good”!

I’ve learned to always ask how far up the side of the cup or glass the coffee will come, and I’m constantly amazed at how LITTLE the actual coffee is (generally about 10-15% of the depth of the cup). I’m also surprised at how weak the coffee is in some places (not all, but many I’ve tried so far). It just doesn’t have that thick, rich coffee flavour I’m so used to — it almost seems watered down. Add milk to fill 80% of the cup, and you’ve got one hot milky drink with a hint of coffee.  [I’m used to at least 30% thick strong espresso, and if I make it at home — 50%. Yes, caffeine must run in my veins :-) ]

It’s Saturday morning and there are a lot of cyclists sitting out in the sun, their bikes resting up against the glass walls of the café, and it’s great to see so many people enjoying themselves.

My mate Scott is cycling over from Calabasas, which is quite a distance!

Cyclists outside Peets Coffee on Montana in Brentwood

My Review of Peets Coffee in Brentwood

  • Staff friendly and attentive — YES
  • Triple Shot Latte Thick and creamy – YES
  • Tasty – YES
  • Strong enough for me – NO
  • Recommend it? – YES, absolutely!

 Map to Peets Coffee on Montana Avenue

1401 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403


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Cafe Laurent in Culver City, Los Angeles

Cafe Laurent in Culver City serves La Vazza coffee

It’s a beautiful day in Brentwood and my dear friend Gordon is taking me to Cafe Laurent in Culver City.  We haven’t seen each other since I was in L.A. ten years ago so there’s going to be LOTS of catching up and reminiscing!

The building had an art deco feel on the outside with the big curved corner displaying the café’s name, and as we stepped inside I was thrilled to bits — French posters, French words on the Menu, a Frenchy feel about it – I loved it!

We strolled through out to the courtyard which was filled with cute tables, chairs and umbrellas, like a rainbow coloured ceiling above us.  Before too long we decided to move indoors, as it wasn’t quite as warm as I would have liked.

Inside we settled near the main windows and I was unbelievably happy when I saw they used my fave brand of Italian coffee — La Vazza – bravissimo! Fantastique!

While we were poring over the yummy Frenchified menu, we nibbled on a deliciously gorgeous berry muffin — and the presentation was so cool!

Berry muffin at Cafe Laurent in Culver City

I tried not to hold onto too much hope for a good coffee, as I know I’m a bit fussy (hey, I know what I like!) so I chatted to the lovely lady who served us to find out how they make their lattes, and told her how I like mine.  When the coffee arrived in its steaming mug, it had a gorgeous heart design, a smiley face drawn in chocolate, and two real coffee beans – oh how cute!  It just goes to show that with a tiny teeny bit of effort, every cafe can make a statement to show they care about their customers.  I’m in love already :-)

Cafe Laurent La Vazza smiley face latte

Teena and Gordon having coffee 6 May 2014Of course the real test is the taste … sip … sip … and OMG I am so excited! This coffee actually tastes like COFFEE!  For the first time since I’ve been back in LA, I can TASTE the coffee (no more weasel p*ss watery weak stuff for me!)!

When the breakfasts arrive they look sooooo delicious — I had a ham and cheese omelette with potatoes which were so creamy they were almost like a thick custard.  When I took my first bite of the omelette my mouth was shocked into a totally unexpectedly wonderful taste sensation! Oh yummmm!  The meal was delicious and ended up being the most tasty and delightful meal I had during my few weeks in LA.

Omelette at Cafe Laurent in LA

Gordon had the salmon crepe with fresh diced fruit salad and said it was delicious too, so all in all it was a tremendous breakfast (well, brunch really, as we were so full for the rest of the day!):

Salmon crepe at Cafe Laurent

Here is the delightful Nicki VICKY who looked after us so well:


What better way to finish off a fabulous breakfast, than to have a yummy dessert to share? Check this out, my mouth is watering with the memory of this treat :

Delicious dessert in LA at Cafe Laurent

Map to Cafe Laurent

Address:  4243 Overland Ave, Culver City, CA 90230, United States

Phone:  (310) 558-8622  /

Read more about my coffee adventures in Los Angeles >>

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Blue Plate Cafe on Montana, Santa Monica

Blue Plate Cafe is great for breakfast.

Today I drove along Montana Avenue with Jayne and we decided to try Blue Plate Cafe for breakfast, and we weren’t disappointed!

Blue Plate cafe breakfasts in Santa Monica

I opted for the blueberry pancackes which consisted of 3 huge pancakes filled to the brim with blueberries, and was delicious with drizzled syrup.

Jayne went with the eggs (over easy) served with home fries (potato chunks) and a choice of muffin, toast etc.

We all know I’m fussy with my coffee so I asked about lattes, ordered one, and was pleasantly surprised. Not as strong as I’d like, but it looked great and tasted great – woohoo!

Teena drinking latte at Blue Plate Cafe

If you’re looking for a funky little place for brekkie, check out this cool cafe in Santa Monica, on Montana – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

1415 Montana Ave
Santa Monica CA 90403
(310) 260-8877

Map to Blue Plate Cafe

Read more about my coffee adventures in Los Angeles >>

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The Old Teahouse Gallery Mudgeeraba Queensland

Tweet This week I’m heading to the Old Teahouse Gallery in Mudgeeraba (on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia). I’ve had a hankering for “high tea” or Devonshire Tea, and my friend Maz suggested we visit this place over the weekend, as … Continue reading

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Canvas Cafe, Nobbys Beach on the Gold Coast

Canvas Cafe double-shot latteI’m new to this area, so when I met some locals on the weekend (merci beaucoup Luke & Sarah!) who were as fanatical / excited about coffee as I am, I begged for suggestions of where to get a decent (great) latte near Broadbeach.

Their recommendation was for CANVAS CAFE …

So here I sit after having just finished  my first Canvas latte, double shot, and I’m thrilled to say it was thick and creamy and deeeelicious!

I was chatting with another customer as we queued to place our orders, and she highly recommended I try the home-made mini sausage rolls, and luckily for me there was one left so I became the lucky owner (well, until I digested it, at least :-)) – yum-O! These would be delicious hot or cold and at $2.50, are a tempting little treat.

Canvas cafe Nobbys Beach delicious sausage roll

The staff are delightful and the ambience is very cool, surrounded by gorgeous trinkets and local artwork (the cafe owner is an artist and hosts painting lessons for kids and adults).

Absolutely check this place out — the Barista Calum and gorgeous Bee are both delightful and it’s obvious to me that Calum makes the coffees with love. Thank you!


Shop 7/2221 Gold Coast Highway
Nobby Beach, Qld 4218, Australia
(entrance on Lavarack Road)

Mon to Sat from 6.30am til 4pm
Sun from 7am til 4pm

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Remember to talk to strangers in a Melbourne Cafe

Today for example, I did it in a Melbourne cafe. Did your mother ever tell you, “Don’t talk to strangers!” – yes, mine did too, but over the years I’ve discovered that it’s by talking to strangers that you learn more about everything in life, and often don’t realise you’ve actually heard a gem of wisdom until much later …

I was in a café in Melbourne called “Dead Man Espresso” (my first visit), and it was very busy with lots of people waiting to be seated. I started chatting with two couples waiting for a table, and after our coffees, my friend Heath and I chatted some more with these 4 people who were seated at a long table next to us.

It turned out that one of the chaps (Warren) is off to Paris in two weeks (what a coincidence! I’ll be there in about 10 days!) and he runs organised bike tours in France.

I was speaking with the two women, Alvina and Andy and telling them about wanting to start coffee and cocktail get-togethers in Melbourne under my label It felt like it was quite serendipitous meeting these lovely folks today, and I hope to meet up with them again when I get back from my holidays at the end of July.

Now – to get down to the coffee review.

Melbourne Cafe Review Number 6: Dead Man Espresso Café

Melbourne cafe - I like to talk to strangers in Dead Man Espresso cafe (image)

It was my first time in South Melbourne and I was to meet my friend Heath to check out one of his favourite cafés. What I didn’t know is that the first cafe was right next door to the big South Melbourne Market, so finding a parking spot could be classed as a miracle of the highest order.

As the only seating was outside (and it had now started sprinkling with rain), we decided to check out another cafe – Dead Man Espresso – in Market Street, South Melbourne.  We parked around the block and as we approached the cafe we could see a few people waiting on the outside porch. There were more people waiting inside, so we added our name to the list.

The place was packed, including the small outside balcony. We waited about half an hour and eventually begged to just sit at the stools at the counter, as we only wanted a coffee, and the server/waitress finally agreed. Our coffees arrived relatively quickly considering how busy the place was, and I was filled with anticipation. As the latte was placed in front of me, I could see that it looked good, albeit a bit pale in colour.

the anticipation has built to fever pitch!

I tasted, I savoured, I sipped and breathed in the aroma, making sure to enjoy the experience …

Oh no.

I can’t believe it.

Despite being assured that the coffee here is ‘great’, I was very disappointed. Don’t get me wrong though – the consistency was the best I’ve tasted so far in Melbourne, thick and creamy. Unfortunately there were two major drawbacks:

  1. the latte (coffee) wasn’t hot and could be drunk in a couple of mouthfuls (meaning it was little more than ‘warm’)
  2. there was very little “coffee” in the coffee, and it was way too milky.

I was forlorn, disillusioned and sad. This is now the 6th cafe I’ve visited in Melbourne in two weeks and I feel like I’m still searching for the Holy Grail.

Heath and I were discussing this as I knew I’d be writing my coffee review when I got home, and after stopping to chat with the people we’d just met, we discovered that they were all terribly disappointed too – for the exact same reasons! What a shame, we’d all waited such a long time to get the coffees, but it appeared as though something wasn’t right with the temperature (was the milk sitting on the bench too long, cooling?), or the quantity of actual coffee.

So wht did I think overall?

Score: 5 out of 10

Don’t be put off by the one experience I had today. Please do visit and taste for yourself, you might have a much different experience on a different day, different time.

Dead Man Espresso
35 Market Street
South Melbourne VIC 3205
tel: (03) 9686-2255

Melbourne Cafe Map:

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