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

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 she’s … 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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The Pour Kids Cafe in Malvern Vic

The Pour Kids cafe

The Pour Kids cafe in Malvern Victoria

Today I’m off to try my third café since moving to Melbourne, and I am quite excited – not just because I’m looking forward to finding a delicious, thick, creamy latte, but because I’m meeting up with my friend Lise who is a Francophile like me. The name of the café – THE POUR KIDS – looks French and so I’m keen to see what the place (and the coffee) is like :-)

It’s now a couple of hours later and I’m back home after visiting Pour Kids café.

I realised I had been there before, back in February and so my expectations were high.

When the latte arrived in a small coffee cup I was a bit surprised, and then I could see the broken bubbles on the top of some kind of froth, and I had my suspicions. After drinking a mouthfull, my suspicions were correct – a mediocre coffee – not even a latte – which tasted odd. I was so looking forward to a cup of robusta coffee, made as latte with a thick and creamy consistency. So disappointing. Lisa ordered a cafe mocha and she too was disappointed. I let the waiter know and he did offer us a second cup each – made by the same young lady, but we both declined. I asked if they would have a Barista making coffees on weekends but evidently it’s the same young lady.

The toasted baguette sandwich was a surprise too – chicken and leek, tasty enough, but rather small for $11.00, and no garnish or salad on the rather large white plate.

I’ll think I’ll be waiting a while before I return to the Pour Kids cafe.

1E Winter Street, Malvern
ph 9077 3847

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Breakfast Review of Digikaf in Glebe

This morning I visited a new café and did a breakfast review of Digikaf Café which is located in Glebe (in the inner west of Sydney, Australia).

Review of Digikaf - my latte, menu and business cards

The large front room was empty when I arrived about 9:30am on a Saturday, but soon filled up with what sounded like long-term and local customers (always a good sign). Before anyone else arrived, I got to chat with the young Barista who told me they were one of the first to have “that internet stuff” (Wifi). We also talked about coffee and I admitted I was a bit of a snob/connoisseur and was looking forward to tasting his cafe latte. The Barista admitted that he knew what I meant when I said I’d like a thick and creamy latte – and – he delivered, quickly. Excellent start!

The Menu & Seating

I took my time reading the menu as this was my first visit, and there were all the usual breakfast options and some with some great names. I discovered there is another room up a few steps, plus an outside dining area. The room I was in had a fabulous large and colourful mosaic with a dog as the central character – the mosaic was on the wall behind the Barista and counter and added a lively and fun element to the ambiance. The waitress was lovely and very attentive, and as the morning wore on, other waitresses popped by to ask if everything was ok.

The Scrambled Eggs

The only issue I had was with the “3 eggs scrambled” on toast. The eggs hadn’t quite finished cooking, and there was uncooked albumen (egg white) on the toast and plate which I found a bit off-putting. Other than that the eggs and mushrooms were hot, 2 thick slices of brown toast cut in half diagonally, and it tasted good. (I might have been tempted to use a sturdier type of bread, because the soft toast was hard to cut.) As I was leaving and paying my bill, I did tell the Barista about the eggs.

Review of Digikaf cafe - scrambled eggs in Glebe (Sydney)

Mind-bending With The Fork

I was intrigued by the straight tines of the large fork, as I’ve never seen this before – forks I’ve used in the past (around the world) have all had slightly curved tines to help balance food on. Half way through the breakfast I realised that the forks were even more unusual – while I was pressing the fork into some toast as I tried to cut it, the fork BENT in half! Yikes! Was I the new Uri Geller, or suddenly filled with brute strength? Or was the material the fork was made of somehow ‘soft’? I tried to get someone’s attention, but in the end just bent it back and kept eating (I was hungry after all) :-)

So – my thoughts on this review of Digikaf? Overall it was a lovely experience, engaging staff, nice vibe. I’ll be back :-)

Summary of Breakfast Review of Digikaf

  • 174 St John’s Road, Glebe
  • Tel: (+61) 02-9660-3509
  • breakfast until 2pm every day.

Other coffee reviews can be found within this site.

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What to do when a new Barista joins your local cafe?

Thoughts about getting used to a new Barista

Can the new Barista make a Cafe latte, thick and creamy? Fingers' crossedIt’s happened before and it’ll happen again – one of my favourite cafes has hired a new Barista, and I don’t like the way this person makes my lattes. (Bitter, not made with care.)

I know, I’m way too precious about my coffee – but when you’ve been going to one particular cafe for six years and both Baristas always served delicious thick and creamy lattes par excellence, it’s HARD to accept less-than-fabulous coffee. Even when a new Barista came some time ago, their skill and desire to create a great coffee experience for both of us was evident.

You might be wondering if I’m being a bit unfair to this poor new Barista, and to be honest, I don’t think I am. I’ve visited the cafe twice since they started, and was rather surprised to hear that this was the new permanent Barista. My surprise wasn’t totally because of the coffees served to me, my judgement also included several other coffees made by the same person (at a different location months ago) which I didn’t enjoy.

It’s hard to know what to do, but for the moment I think the sensible thing is to only have juice or other drinks while that particular Barista is working the coffee machine. There’s no point in me buying and paying for coffee I don’t like and don’t want to drink.

Still, it makes me wistful … but the optimist in me is ever so hopeful that some suggestions or tips from the owner might help this person re-find their mojo and make fabulous coffee – every time – for every customer.

Fingers’ crossed for the new Barista!

PS – you might also like to read some coffee reviews while you’re here, and here’s what wikipedia says about Baristas.

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Breakfast review of Ruby L’Otel Rozelle

Today I felt like having breakfast out, so I popped in to do a breakfast review of Ruby L’Otel Rozelle.

Breakfast review of Ruby L'Otel Rozelle, open Saturday & SundayThe renovations and the beer garden look great, and it was terrific to see a Barista behind the bar in the beer garden.

I ordered a latte, and breakfast – bacon & scrambled eggs ($10), tomatoes & mushrooms ($3 each).

I’ll be honest, I tried this place for the first time last week, and thought I’d review it after the second visit to see if service and quality had changed.

The Barista is good at his job, knows everyone’s name, chats with everyone and creates a lovely atmosphere, but this means the coffee takes longer than you’d expect when there are very few people there. I also found that if I asked for a “thick and creamy latte” (which is how it should always be) then I’d get exactly what I asked for. If I just asked for a “latte”, it was not fabulous.

The waitress was very friendly, and the reindeer antlers added a nice touch in this week prior to Christmas.

I started reading the paper, and settled down to wait patiently for the latte, which was delicious and well-made when it evenutally arrived (over 10 minutes later).

Still reading the paper, I finished my latte, and started to wonder where my breakfast was as there were only 4 other people there when I came in the door, and most of them appeared to be eating. I tried to catch the waitress’ eye, but she was sitting down having her own breakfast. I decided to give it a few more minutes before heading over to the open kitchen to see how my order was going.

In café terms, the wait was rather long (when there were so few people there), and just as I was thinking it was time to enquire, a bell rang in the kitchen and the waitress popped over to grab the food; some was delivered to another table, and the other was my breakfast.

The food was presented in a nice large white bowl, more suited to soup than a meal which requires a lot of knife and fork action, but that’s not too much of a problem. Everything looked good, the scrambled eggs and tomato were hot to the touch (at this point I did think that half a small tomato for $3 was rather expensive), but alas the bacon and mushrooms were luke-warm.

I tilted the bowl slightly and to my dismay I saw the same thing I experienced last week – an amount of oil floating in the bowl which amounted to at least 4 to 5 teaspoons’ worth. As the waitress was busy I decided to go ahead and eat the meal and just kept dodging the oil, and tried to keep the food on the sides of the bowl away from it.

Such a disappointing outcome, especially as I had witnessed this same thing last weekend, and had passed on my feedback to the chap who served me. The waiter agreed that all feedback was extremely important. Perhaps the feedback didn’t reach the kitchen?

I packed up to leave and couldn’t get the waitress’s attention as she was serving new customers, so I walked the bowl over to the kitchen. The chef wasn’t there, but two other chaps were cooking and looking rushed, so I didn’t interrupt them. I waited a bit until I could speak with the waitress and explained what had happened, as on-the-spot feedback face-to-face is really a polite way to go. The waitress apologised and said she’d pass it on. So I told her that’s what I was told last week when this happened, so something didn’t get through to the kitchen.

My summary is that with a few very minor tweaks this could have been an excellent breakfast review of Ruby L’Otel Rozelle: remove the oil BEFORE delivering the plate to the customer, and make sure all food on the plate is hot at the same time, and you’re on to a winner!

Providing the same excellent quality of coffee each and every time is also a must, which shows that the Barista cares about his coffee-making abilities and pleasing his customers 100% of the time.

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