Don Campos, Alexandria

Campos coffee, Alexandria

Campos Coffee. 21 Fountain St, Alexandria. Fans of Campos Coffee will be familiar with their flagship store in Newtown. A great coffee experience can be had there: it’s the only place I’ve ever seen that sells a sparkling long black, and you can buy their beans in various quantities (and I have).

Its main drawback is the limited amount of space, and the long queueing. And so, in search of Campos coffee, you’ll download their iPhone App and look for one of the many resellers. There’s something similar about cafes that sell Campos. They tend to have the same polished concrete floors, the same cups, even similar sandwiches on sale. It makes for a fairly consistent experience, well above the average of cafes that sell other well-known brands of coffee.

Granted, there are always exceptions, but in general, the Campos sign out the front of a cafe is an indication that you’ll be given a well-made, pleasant tasting cup of coffee. The flagship store, though: there’s something extra special that happens there. The grinders are adjusted that little bit more. They don’t write down your order, but use a special arrangement of dice and spoons to tell each other what the order is. But the queueing: it’s hard to find a time of day when you can simply walk into the cafe and make it straight to the counter.

So it was with no small amount of enthusiasm that I read about a new, official Campos store opening:

Don Campos in now open in Alexandria. This is truly a barista’s dream come true- and many firsts for us: Our first company owned store in Sydney other than our flagship in Newtown. Our first operating Slayer espresso machine – working very well after months of research and tinkering here at HQ. As well, our first, (and perhaps a Sydney first), siphon bar serving only select grand cru Single Origin coffees.

We did not hold back and boy does it ever show!

Also, the Baristas are Specialty Coffee fanatics who have been with us for years. And are they ever amped! campos website.

It opened on November 23rd, and it’s open 7 days (except public holidays) – another first for Campos. Like the original store, the food menu is scarce: there’s a choice of a couple of sweet treats to go with your coffee, but the emphasis is on the coffee itself.

Where the magic happens

Step inside the camouflaged storefront (only an umbrella and some street signage exist so far) and you’ll see an impressive pair of espresso machines, four grinders, and this siphon bar – you can watch the siphon coffee be made (a new coffee each week is the plan).

There’s plenty of space in the store – with its high ceilings, the smell of the fresh-ground coffee drifts out for each new siphon – and there are actually enough tables and chairs to be able to choose where you sit!

Coffee: my decaf latte was great: flawless milk-work, perfect temperature, and the milk takes the harsh edge off the coffee. As a decaf espresso, I’m still not completely convinced: I think it needs a hint of milk to make it work, but there’s no faulting the execution.

If you enjoy the Campos experience, but have been frustrated in the past with the queueing, then this new place has solved all your problems. Try it before the word gets out!

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reading about gay marriage

A motion passed the Australian House of Representatives around two weeks ago calling on parliamentarians to gauge their consituents’ views on the issue of marriage equality.

I’ve been looking for a few things to read on “gay marriage”, and had some recommendations, the longer ones I still need to wade through.

The Christian response (where there is one: I haven’t found much coverage of this) might be caricatured mentioning Hitler, atheists having no morality, and criticising other Christians for their lacklustre responses.

The argument on the other side can be similarly lacking in civility in places, though not always.

The best presentation of the Christian case I’ve read so far is an ABC Unleashed piece by Rev Murray Campbell which is still not flawless, but is more articulate than most (thanks Nathan for linking to it).

On the other side of the debate was a TEDxSydney talk from former High Court Justice Michael Kirby (thanks Renae).

His topic is to protect society from the “god botherers”. His thesis: “only by secularism will we maintain respect for every belief, and for people who have no belief: for the people of the here and now”.

I’m not sure that he makes the case in this talk for secularism as maintaining respect for every belief – he is no fan of the Protestant missionaries, for example. It might be fairer to say that secularism will maintain the right for everyone to practice their own faith, as long as that faith doesn’t impact others.

He closes with this quote: “…the churches have to look at the scriptures and learn the lesson that text is ambiguous. Holy text is a metaphor and a poem, and you have to look at it and text cannot be inconsistent with science. They’ve got to look again.”

I think that any part of a holy text needs to be read as the literary type that it is – I wouldn’t say that all holy text is a metaphor. Given that science continues to refine its understanding of the world as new discoveries present themselves, I would think that there’s some danger in trying to read holy text as consistent with science, but I’m being distracted from the task at hand.

We spent some time at bible study tonight looking at a few short bible passages, and trying to think through the issues involved.

It’s dangerous to look at bible passages out of their context, and try to apply them directly to the modern day, as this West Wing clip points out.

But what parts of the bible should we read to try and understand the Christian idea of marriage? Here are three to start you thinking.

  • Matthew 19:1-12 (where Genesis 2:24 is quoted as a part of understanding marriage.
  • 1 Cor 7:25-40, where the apostle Paul talks about reasons why you might not want to get married and
  • Rev 19:6-9apocalyptic literature, yes, but it shows the importance of the idea of marriage in the way that it represents the nature of the relationship between Jesus and Christians – it’s described as a marriage relationship.

The idea of marriage as two Christians making a public declaration of their voluntary, intended life-long, male/female, exclusive sexual relationship is one that is important to a large group of Christians (though not all Christians).

But what does that mean in Australian society, where the Marriage Act 1961 (which I still need to read in its entirety) covers the marriages of peoples from a variety of faiths (or no faith at all)?

Indeed, most Christian weddings I’ve been to have a series of vows, and Christian things in them, and then the signing and witnessing of two copies of a legal document.

It seems to me that the majority of Christians are upset at the alteration of the former, when in reality it’s the latter that’s at stake. Yes, to ease confusion we probably need some clarification on the language of these two things, but perhaps if we can acknowledge that two different things are happening in the one ceremony we’ll be in a better place to have a discussion about what the Marriage Act should say.

I realise that this is only the discussion of a few thoughts, and not the last word on the subject, and that I have a lot more reading to do: I’d welcome your comments, or suggestions on things to read next.

Still in the queue: Robert Heinlein’s “Time Enough for Kids” (thanks danielle – anyone have a copy?) and an Ursula Le Guin book.

online engagement

One of the things that I’m passionate about is helping people to communicate better online. There’s so much communication out there that is just ignored: mostly because people make the wrong assumption that their message is as important to their recipient as it is to them.

Here’s a presentation I put together on this subject, for an “external engagement” day. I’m still learning how best to use slideshare: I added my notes to the actual presentation slides – I would welcome any ideas you might have for how to make the presentation better.

The Little Queen cafe, Chippendale

The Little Queen cafe, Chippendale

Allpress coffee. 28-30 Queen St, Chippendale. With windows at street level, it’s down a few stairs to the main space, which seats about 20.

communal table, little queen cafe, chippendale

Fresh flowers on the communal table separate out the space a little, and underneath there are a wide range of magazines and newspapers to wade through.

blackboard wall - little queen cafe, chippendale

Most of the space has dark walls, with an almost Campos-green feature colour throughout, and then there’s this corner:

photo wall - little queen cafe, chippendale

Spectacular colours, and Union Jack cushion covers bring home the “Queen” theme (if you look closely near the cash register, you can see a little statue of the Queen).

salad of the day - little queen cafe, chippendale

They manage to do a lot in the small space – there’s a freshly made salad of the day on offer, and some of the biggest sandwiches I’ve ever seen in a cafe ($9, unreviewed).

where the magic happens - little queen cafe, chippendale

I heard about this place via the brasserie bread blog, and thought I should check it out.

coffee in the window - little queen cafe, chippendale

Coffee is pleasant; pre-ground, but still a hint of sweetness.

Water is self-serve.

Update 24-11-10: They also have a little queen cafe facebook page with a daily update of their salad, and muffin of the day (thanks mei.

Coffee Garam, Surry Hills

Coffee Garam, surry hills

Vittoria coffee. 29 Bellevue Street, Surry Hills. Unusually for the way I find a cafe, I think this one came to my attention via foursquare and twitter. It was just far enough out of the way from my usual paths around the city that it had been on the “to-visit” list for a while. I was indeed glad that I made a visit.

I was trying to keep my blogging credentials quiet, as I always do on a first visit, but couldn’t help but talk to the owner – Harvey – about what I should order. He mentioned another blog review of his cafe, and asked if I could tweet about my visit, or comment on the coffee garam website.

I hope this review does the trick. First the food. Make sure when you arrive that you establish yourself as someone who is interested in trying Indian food. They’re surrounded by people who demand boring, mainstream cuisine, and yet they’re trying to create something amazing. We’re not talking about the usual naan and curries here, but rather it’s Indian street-stall food.

I ask them to recommend something for me, and I get the samosa chaat:

samosa chard, coffee garam, surry hills

It’s delicious. A couple of samosas have been cut in half, and covered with a number range of different sauces – it’s a great balance of different flavours, and is just on the edge of the heat that my mouth is comfortable with.

decaf latte and their own take on lemonade, coffee garam, surry hills

They don’t seem to have a decaf grinder, but it’s a pleasant enough, drinkable coffee. In the picture, you can also see their specialty, Indian lemonade (syrup made on site): it actually has spices in it!

Go there, tell them you like Indian food and aren’t afraid to try something new. You’ll be glad you did.

movie: the social network

Movie: the social network.

Since this movie was released, people have been telling me that I should see it, and that I’d really enjoy it. This is perhaps because I’m an Aaron Sorkin fan (the writer and executive producer of the West Wing) and a David Fincher fan (the director of Fight Club, Panic Room and Zodia) and I work in social media.

It’s based on real-life events that led to the creation of facebook, and a couple of lawsuits that were made against Mark Zuckerberg. It’s a clever writing device, and the jolts between the depositions and the events being talked about work well to draw the viewer in, and meant that a two hour film flew by.

Lots of ink has been spilled on the movie: its apparent mysogyny, whether Zuckerberg created the college experience online because he was never able to experience it himself, and I won’t go into those areas.

For me, it was a movie that brought home the fact that my twenties are over. It also made me – briefly – consider the wisdom of setting coding aside as a career with its glamorising of the coding process. The characters in the movie had any number of choices, but they made ones that devalued friendship, and chose power and lifestyle over making a meaningful connection with people.

That the world has been significantly altered by facebook (at 500M members it’s approaching a double-digit percentage of world population) cannot be denied, but has the world been improved? Is public discourse richer? Is human interaction more meaningful? Or has it given us shorter attention spans, and made us value quantities of friends over depth of connection?

DVD: Departures

DVD: Departures

This Japanese film (I watched it with English subtitles) won the Oscar for best Foreign Language film in 2009. It tells the story of a cellist with a troubled family past who – when his orchestra is dissolved – returns to his home in a beautiful mountain-backed part of Japan. When he answers an ad working with “departures”, he finds himself working in a very odd role indeed.

The subtitles are great at this point – his role is an “encoffineer” – someone who works in the ritual of preparing bodies for cremation (more details about working as a nokanshi).

The film shows a lot of stories about the grieving of various families, and does it in a compelling way. There are moments of dark (and not so dark) humour, beautiful cinematography, great scenery and shows of the seasons. It’s a good film for reflecting on both life and death, and attitudes to both, as well as thinking about how different generations relate together.

movember 2010

Movember - day 18

Behold the terrible moustache that I’m growing for “Movember”. Please read a little more about why I’m growing a moustache, and what I’m trying to achieve by it.

Last year, I grew a moustache primarily to raise awareness about depression: it’s a cause I feel passionate about, and I was happy to raise some money for beyondblue – a group that are helping people with depression get better.

But that was a year ago, when I had no living relatives who had been diagnosed with cancer.

In December last year, a close family member had cancer detected early, and removed. A few months later, the same close family member had a different cancer detected early, and removed. They’re currently okay, by the way.

Without early screening, who knows what might have happened?

The biggest cancer risk for men in Australia is prostate cancer:

  • Each year in Australia, close to 3,300 men die of prostate cancer – equal to the number of women who die from breast cancer annually. Around 20,000 new cases are diagnosed in Australia every year.
  • 1 in 9 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, but few know that there are (non-intrusive) tests for cancer detection, or even how high the risk is.


What would I like you to do?

  • Talk to at least one man about the risks of an awkward-to-discuss but dangerous cancer. (sending them the link above might be a good start)
  • Consider donating some money – say $5 – to Movember.

Thanks for making my aesthetic suffering worthwhile!

DVD: Iron Man 2

DVD: Iron Man 2

In this inevitable sequel to the highly profitable Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow are back, and Terrence Howard has been replaced with Don Cheadle. The new villain (replacing Jeff Bridges) is played by Mickey Rourke. The best thing about the film, though, is the performance of Sam Rockwell: always watchable, he’s in great form here.

There are a number of scenes that are quite funny, and the usual long sections of “robots hitting each other” are visually interesting enough. If you enjoyed the first one, this is a good “popcorn movie”.