Jack and the Bean coffee. 53 Erskineville Rd, Erskineville. To drive past this place you would never realise just how large it is – there is room out the back for dozens of people, and a team of cheery staff move quickly around to make sure everyone is looked after.
We visit on a Saturday morning: there’s a wait of a couple of minutes for a table – the cafe is full of people from various walks of life. Out the back, a couple of mothers’ groups are gathering for a catch-up, others have come from their yoga classes or just as part of their daily walk around the suburb. It’s a place for anyone to feel comfortable and well looked after.
Inside, the main thing that greets you is a diverse range of muffins, chocolate treats and pastries. Seldom before have I seen a display that works so well for achieving impulse buys: while we wait, a number of people purchase their amazing-looking muffins when they go to settle their bill.
Look further afield, and you can see their dedication to coffee. There’s a range of coffee-related equipment – if you’re by yourself, you’ll find plenty of distractions to think about there. If you’re tired of those, you can read one of the magazines that are on display.
The menu has all the cafe standards, and some traditional Israeli dishes. I try the shakshuka ($14.50) – two eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, served with freshly made bread. I added a side dish of hummus ($2.50). It’s plenty to eat, filling me up for both breakfast and lunch combined.
The only slight disappointment was the decaf latte: it was well made (with perhaps too tall a head of foam) but I didn’t enjoy the flavour for the first half: – it had a good finish, though, leaving me considering a second cup, but trying the hot chocolate instead.
They do an amazing Belgian hot chocolate ($4) – sweet, chocolatey, the perfect temperature, and the same thing in a larger cup poured over ice ($4.50), which has that odd mixed hot-cold sensation normally reserved for an affogato