Sample Coffee Bar, Surry Hills

sample coffee bar, surry hills

Mecca Coffee. Shop 2, 118 Devonshire St, Surry Hills. Tiny hole in the wall, punching well above its weight for the quality of coffee, and the range of samples of single origin coffees that are on offer.

Coffee is ground to order, and expertly made. Whether you’re after a top-notch decaf latte, or the full tasting notes for a single origin. The Mirage lever machine is gone now, leaving bench space for other methods of coffee preparation.

If you’re in the area, make sure you drop in. 

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Knight’s Coffee and Tea, Ultimo

Knight's Coffee and Tea, Ultimo

Campos Coffee. Shop 5, 827 George St, Ultimo 2007 [in the Devonshire tunnel]. I was excited to see this place being built as I was walking through the tunnel. There was a sense of wanting to get everything right before the grand opening.

 Here you see them almost ready to launch.

Knight's Coffee and Tea, Ultimo

After a week’s soft launch, the coffee menu board was in, and the crowds have already started to build. In general you’ll see people queueing for take-away: there’s not much seating inside, and being located in a thoroughfare means visitors aren’t planning to stay.

Knight's Coffee and Tea, Ultimo

Owner Jake is ex-Toby’s Estate and has worked in the past for Campos. The coffee he’s putting out is of a really high standard – I keep encountering people in the Ultimo area with Campos cups, talking up the quality of this new cafe.

Knight's Coffee and Tea, Ultimo

Decaf is really solid: among the best Campos decaf I’ve had (even in Campos’ home base in Newtown there’s a sense that decaf is not something they’re happy to be making), and I’ve been back a number of times for a visit.

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Follow them on twitter –@knightscoffee

The Angry Fix, Chippendale

Angry Fix, Ultimo

Numero Uno Coffee. 83 Regent St, Chippendale. A little off the beaten track, but likely to see some good foot traffic as the local cafe when Sydney Central apartments come online. This is one of those places that cares deeply about coffee: they have naked portafilters, and a very narrow range of menu items – mostly sweet things, but with a few sandwiches thrown in for good measure.

Coffee is really good – I haven’t had great experiences with Numero Uno before, but whether they’ve lifted their game, or it’s just the extra attention to detail given here, it’s worth a look. No decaf, though: they’re not prepared to offer it, as they can’t move enough volume to keep the beans fresh.

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don’t read the comments

I try not to jump on the bandwagon of blogging about what Seth Godin says on a given day, but I think this is enough of a tangent from the post that it’s okay. Seth’s you won’t benefit from anonymous criticism makes his usual valid points: anonymous critics are not writing from a place that wants you to be better at what you’re doing. It’s better not to read it.

I wouldn’t go so far as to characterise online commenters as trolls. I’ve had a lot of comments on this site over the years, and enjoyed the dialogue the vast majority of the time. In that situation – on a personal blog in particular – the comments are directed at the blog owner, or in progressing a conversation.

Mainstream media sites are a different story. The comments are often made by people in search of a large audience. When comments are more about shouting your own opinion, and shouting down the minutiae of another person who you perceive as your enemy, not your conversation partner, then there’s no communication taking place.

And so I end up with the mantra of “don’t read the comments” echoing in my head whenever I’m on a newspaper or magazine site.

Am I wrong? Have you ever been persuaded of something by reading the comments? Email me, or, you know, fill in the boxes below.

the next generation of social games

One of my favourite iPhone games is Andreas Illiger’s Tiny Wings. It’s cute, child friendly, and once you’ve bought it, there are no ads, no distractions, you get the entire thing. It’s a rarity in the App Store world, and in the online gaming world in particular. I worry that I spend too much time, even now, in my thirties, playing games. i should put them aside entirely, and focus on serious things.

When Draw Something came out, I was enthusiastic, and spent a lot of time playing it. Then Zynga (the company that owns Words with Friends and a lot of other games) bought the company (for $190M), and it started to go downhill. The tendency to extract money for players became stronger and stronger, and it felt like I had a never-ending to-do list of drawings to interpret and return.

When the privacy policy changed to be more generous toward Zynga and less toward me, I deleted it, and haven’t felt the need to go back. I can’t say the same for words with friends. I would say that I log into that game several times per day, but having bought paid version of the app, there’s not much they can do to extract further money from me, so I can concentrate on playing the game.

What I’m seeing in some other games, though, is a greater reliance on in-game currency. One game – different to bejewelled but clearly of the same lineage – is Diamond Dash.

Not only does this game have the “wait 8 minutes to be able to play again, or pay money to be able to play Right Now”, but they have two different types of in-game currency on top of this. So it’s possible to buy two lots of tokens for the game and still not have the feature that you want.

If you don’t want to pay, you can use social media to buy in-game currency, for a while. You can ask a friend to give you a life in the game, and they will receive one too. This clogs up your Facebook notifications, and theirs, but doesn’t particularly invoke positive sentiments towards the game.

These mobile devices that we use for games, and the social networks we connect them to, have so much capacity than merely to add in-game currency to existing games from the 1970s and 1980s. But we’re not seeing a lot better just yet.

I felt that Zyngapocalypse Now (And What Comes Next?) was asking some good questions about the future of gaming.

 If Yahoo was “Search, Generation One” then Google was “Search, Generation Two”. The first generation was the one which became cluttered with all manner of complicated ambitions, poor performance and a whole load of “conventional wisdom” which often proved contradictory. Generation Two, on other hand, realised what mattered and delivered just that. A similar shift is what will make “Social Games, Generation Two” real.

I’m interested to see the future of gaming, but mindful that I need to be ever more disciplined in how I use my time. Future games will work even harder to make sure that players will have “just one more game”: I’m hoping I can find a way just to dip in and out, without losing hours.

what is ruining your life?

Being unwell for most of this weekend marked a slight change in my normal reading routine. Instead of reading some more reformation church history for my current college subject, I started reading Jabberwocky and The Hunting of the Snark (prior to this weekend, I’d only heard the latter as a musical). I can put this down to a podcast episode I was half listening to (TVO Big Ideas – Adam Gopnik on Christian Writers and Liberal Readers) that, at the end, talked about the hidden meanings to Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter

Both poems I read on my iPhone, via a Google search. It’s gratifying to read something from another century, and especially to read something long-form and from another century.

A week or so ago I read a post by Jack Cheng called The Slow Web (which I first encountered via a post from Mark Bernstein). The very idea of a “slow web” jumped out from the hundreds of other things I read that day: could the web, which seems to generate multiple articles every time Apple or Twitter sneezes, be described by “Slow”?

The slow web is a movement that is making itself known. Web services that update not in milliseconds, but “sometime the next day” are an attempt to restore some humanity to the lives that we so readily throw away in pursuit of the very latest news.

But – as the article “Technology Doesn’t Ruin Our Lives,We Do” suggests – this is still a matter of choice. If it’s work that is making us stay connected to the Internet all the time, then we need to gather together as a workforce to moderate expectations and make them more liveable. There have been precedents in the time of industrial revolution – is a life spent constantly working the most valuable way that we can spend our lives? Is moving our social interaction online improving the quality of our relationships, or impoverishing them?

In a Facebook conversation with an old friend during a mutual time of insomnia, we talked about the need to make time for face-to-face conversations: having people around for a barbecue and just talking to them. The irony that this conversation could not have taken place without social media is not lost on me.

I had the chance to catch up with a friend I’ve known for over 20 years recently: it’s valuable to get that kind of perspective on life every so often. It’s one thing to muse on the question “what would my 15 year old self think of the adult I’ve become”, but there’s slightly more insight to be had to ask someone who’s known you since you were 15.

In some ways, it’s a naive question. There’s no way my 15 year old self would have a sufficiently full understanding of life to understand the decisions that I’ve made these past years. But if the answer to that question is troubling to you, it might be worth asking “what is ruining your life?” A hint. It’s probably not the technology.

For me, I’m not feeling that anything is ruining my life, and that’s a good place to be.