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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Toby's Estate - Brunswick

I quite fancy coffee. And I quite fancy the idea of helping our third world countries while I am drinking it. It's a kind of trade off for my bourgeois lifestyle. Although I'd at least like to do it on a clean table, this isn't actually Africa.

Located in residential Brunswick, Toby's Estate is coffee house, tea emporium, training ground for wannabe baristas and coffee retail outlet, and is the first of (probably) many Melbourne venues, if their Sydney success is anything to go by.

This fair trade coffee conglomerate is kind of turning into a sustainable, "eco," Starbucks. To be fair, it's not quite that dire, but there are Toby's Estate cafes popping up all over Sydney. Although, I've never been to another one, so I don't know if they all look like corrugated iron sheep sheds, or if it was just this one.

First step, order coffee. It didn't go too badly, our waitress was fun and enthusiastic in a good way (considering she was run off her feet) and the wait wasn't too serious for 11am on a Sunday - notorious for being a coffee dead zone anywhere in the world. But I'd prefer to wait an extra five minutes for a decent cup. I had two, they were average. Not bad, but no where near the level of quality achieved by other Melbourne cafes.

Breakfast was reasonable. Good sized menu, lots of vegetarian options (this is Brunswick after all). I carried on with my almost disturbing habit of ordering beans every time I eat out, these ones came potted with eggs and nice buttery toast soldiers. I approve. $9.

I was repeatedly distracted from my meal, from a nice conversation with my friend, and from taking notes for this post, but a rather small child who screamed repeatedly throughout our stay which was not unlike a dentists drill. This is what happens when a cafe puts out a basket of toys for children. Lots of people bring their kids. If you don't like screaming children, don't come here on a weekend morning. Pick a more grown up cafe to nurse your hangover in.

The floor plan leans towards big groups, or providing a number of communal tables. Funny, whenever I sit at a communal table, there is always one really loud and obnoxious knob who ruins it for everybody. Or maybe that's just me. I wasn't to keen on the flimsy plastic kindergarten chair I was given to sit on either. There was also no leg room under the table. I don't appreciate having to eat a meal side saddle.

But, all in all, I didn't mind my visit. Might have had something to do with the company, but after the shit seating arrangements, and the screaming children, and the not so awesome coffee, I'd still give it another go. Why not. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Toby's Estate
Phone: (03) 9009 5462
29 Weston St
Brunswick VIC 3056


reb said...

A lot of people rave about Toby's Coffee like it's something that's descended from heaven.

Personally I reckon it's crap.

If you want a really fully flavoured Australian roasted coffee you can't go past Oomph!

Lucy said...

I liked the sheep shed comment. Perhaps they're preempting the days when they get so busy that they have to put in a drafting race?

Stephen Estcourt said...


Anonymous said...

I've only ever been to the Sydney ones but they've been fantastic every time, I've never had anything less than a great coffee and great service!