A moment of awe with – Blonde Food and Coffee 

Today I enjoyed my seventh consecutive sublime coffee at Blonde Food and Coffee. A new, pop-up style Cafe at the deserted end of Brunswick Street aims to please coffee aficionados and foodies alike.

The message is clear, a custom, beautiful Slayer espresso machine, two pots of ready-made batch brew, a Mahlkoenig EK grinder and choice cakes. All the trimmings of a European, Japanese or Melbourne espresso bar.

This is complete coffee.

I do not know where these two baristi came from however the work is masterful. As a coffee consultant, professional, career barista, Australian International Coffee Awards Judge, coffee roaster and former ST Ali trained and raised wholesale manager I know full well how many obstacles have to be overcome to win the favour of the bean. These guys are bringing the best beans in the word and bringing in they have to offer. There is no where else in Melbourne that can expose the heart and soul of a bean in the way that Blonde boys can do.



5 Reasons Why Work  Coffee Sucks 

1. Workplaces continue to provide commodity coffee whereas outside the office on the streets speciality coffee has taken over. Staff will not drink from a pod machine when theres incredibly goood coffee  outside! That costs the office in downtime. Big time. We estimate around $8k per employee per year. Bad coffee at work is the new “smoking” cost economically. 

2. Espresso machines at work are never clean, never maintained, and no one usually knows how to use them properly Espresso. When a staff member does know they create a waterhole experience of 20-30 minute ling waits while the barista makes coffees. Benefits of espresso is that it’s ground fresh. 

3. Pod machines are bad for the environment, use PREGROUND coffee which is never okay, and really don’t cut it using 4 grams only per pod. They are actually more similar to filter coffee than espresso. Benefits of pod machines is they are very consistent and very fast. 

4. Filter coffee options have classically been steeped, percolated low quality coffee,  and often sit on hot plates baking all day. This is all bad. 

5. Milk at work is usually poor quality and often UHT. If you go to a specialty cafe outside they will have high quality biodynmaic milk. 

Here’s the solution:

Promised Land Coffee delivers Melbourne’s best Batch  Brew to workplaces a daily basis. You don’t need milk because filter coffee is sublime balanced and sweet in its own. It has superior quality to pourover at a cafe. Superior consistency to a pod machine. The speed of a pod machine and is environmentally friendly. 

Cafe Audits

I am making available a service to specialty cafes that can be invaluable to discovering faults in their coffee and service. This collaborates with roasteries as well where you and the roastery can find objective information on espresso quality and service.

Mystery Shopper $240

During busy service (usually Saturday or Sunday) I will come to your cafe and order espressos, milk-based drinks and a takeaway. This also includes a competitor analysis of the same attributes at 2-3 local cafes. Staff will be assessed on timeliness, cleanliness, product knowledge, and customer service. The venue will be assessed and compared to its competitors and you will be given a full report. The whole operation takes about 3 hours including report writing and competitor analysis. There is an optional $180, 60 minute discussion session where suggestion on improvements will be made.

Mystery Shopping Includes:

  • Covert operation during peak times
  • 2-3 dine in beverage analysis (see below)
  • 1 takeaway beverage analysis
  • Drink analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • SWOT

Espresso Beverage Analysis $360

Beverage analysis and espresso quality audits are performed in store in collaboration with staff. Audit includes interview with staff around espresso knowledge, a critical appraisal of bar operations and a beverage audit during both peak and off peak times.

The aim of this critical and objective exercise is to expose all blind spots and improve quality in the cup overall. It is guaranteed that if your staff are lacking the skills or equipment to perform the task of preparing specialty grade, award winning coffees that it will be in my report:

Beverage Analysis:

  • Consistency of espresso volume (yield)
  • Consistency of dose (ground coffee)
  • Consistency of time/volumetrics
  • Accuracy of drink (flat white, cappuccino, etc)
  • Taste of drink (1-6)
  • Taste likeness to roast description
  • Temperature
  • Presentation of drink
  • Consistency across all drinks (Poor to Excellent)


  • Wait time
  • Cleanliness
  • Wastage including milk and coffee
  • Customer service
  • Staff knowledge
  • Water quality and filter effectiveness
  • Machine operation and parts assessment
  • Milk quality and wastage
  • Bean freshness, rotation and wastage
  • Presentation and brewing techniques

There is no doubt that this activity can help any cafe no matter how famous or successful. All will be revealed by this exercise.

Bookings to be made 2 weeks in advance by contacting Jonathon Sciola on 0466418990 or email:Jonathon.sciola@jonathonsciola.com


How To Delete Unwanted Urbanspoon Reviews?


Where should we go for coffee dear?
The reality of this mobile, geolocation empowered world is that customers decide whether or not to visit your cafe or restaurant before they’ve been there.

They will see a “like” tally on Urbanspoon where anything less than 80% makes people nervous. “Maybe I won’t have a great experience either?” “Surely 200 people can’t be wrong”

They see an 8.0 or a 5.0! on beanhunter and know what your coffee tastes like.

The simple answer is urbanspoon is a closed community where you cannot delete reviews – and that’s a good thing – however there are 5 things you can do to boost your social credibility and communicate with your customers:

1. Promote yourself – Urbanspoon is only 1 social network. List your business on:

  • Google Places
  • Google Plus
  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Local Council business listing
  • A blog site

2. Encourage bloggers to come and review your cafe. You can see blogger reviews are more impacting than customer reviews:


3. Engage in conversations with your customers online via these social platforms: Instagram, Twitter , Facebook , Foursquare

4. Listen! Actually change your operations , staff, products or services when there is a clear message to you.

5. Implement a Customer Expectation Management System such as Business weather. Visit h4happy.com. These guys measure and analyse real feedback in real time.

One Little Place

One Little Place is a favourite specialty coffee outfit in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne for me in that the barista Kim Jae Hyun (Harry) is as passionate about coffee as I am.
From South Korea Harry celebrates every cup with a philosophy of self improvement. Every time I visited Harry as a wholesale support person from St Ali and his barista trainer harry genuinely solicited all the information and experiential learning he could.

Today I can say I tasted the best, most nuanced and crispy Chompy espresso I have ever had. Brewed on a modified paddle version of the linear the Seasonal blend was crisp, effervescent and sweet. My wife and I also enjoyed a tasty brunch in a chicken sandwich on a plate.


The cafe has a very warm family feel. Situated near the busy Burke and Wattletree Intersection 1LP was bustling with cafe patrons as we arrived on a Saturday morning. Weekends are busy and weekdays attract many school students, teachers and mums from nearby Catholic mega-school Sacred Heart.

I wouldn’t turn down a coffee from 1LP even if I had already had my quota. I wouldn’t turn down a lunch invite either.
One Little Place on Urbanspoon}

Barista Occupational Hazards

First of all I want to break down the role of the barista to:

1. Machine Operator
2. Service Operator
3. Customer Service Representative


These sections of the baristas role will give us clarity and cohesion as we discuss the hazards and joys (!) of being a baristi.

Secondly I would like to say that a barista is a career choice: one that often give flexibility in working hours and great level of enjoyment. While the barista is at its simplistic core pushing buttons she is also an artist who has passion in her work and pride too hopefully. We often take less pay and poor working conditions for the love of coffee. So bless you!

1. Machine Operator

  • Feet – As a machine operator you will be on your feet all day. It’s really important to wear good supportive shoes such as Merrill or Brooks and ask for a rubber matt where possible.

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  • Noise – The amplified noise of steam being directed to your ears is problematic. The safe volume for sustained noise (more than 30minutes) is 60 decibels. Most cafes operate above 70 so you need to be aware that this may affect your hearing in the long run.
  • Wrists – Turning the LaMarzocco handles is a hazard and so ensure you stretch frequently or switch to a more ergonomically designed machine such as a Synesso
  • dehydration – It’s important to keep your fluids up, especially where espresso is a diuretic
  • Skins – Remember you are working with hot metals and hot water under 1.5 atmospheres of pressure. As well as that you have chemicals to be aware of. I have found that Barrier Cream is helpful.
  • 2. Service Operator

    You are under a lot of pressure to get things done on time this can lead to emotional pressures as stress. I have seen more than a few baristas have almost a nervous breakdown: bad reviews on urbanspoon, megalomaniac bosses, the pressure of competition. Be aware of these emotional signs that you need a rest and need to talk to someone:

  • Withdrawal & Isolation – you are feeling the desire to be alone.
  • Obsessions – You are watching an unhealthy amount of television or drinking too much alcohol.
  • Anger & Anxiety – You feel angry and you don’t know why
  • All of these symptoms can be addressed in the following way:

    a) Self Awareness – First step is to admit to yourself that you are in emotional pain. “To Thine Own Self Be true” (Plato or Socrates)
    b) Make changes – Speak to a spouse or friend or even parents. Seek the help of counselling. Or take a break!
    c) Diet and Medication – Vitamin B and Magnesium supplements are powerful and will boost energy levels. Some people are not depressed; they simply are low on adrenal activity due to running on adrenalin all the time.

    3. Customer Service Representative

    You are the face of your cafe. Don’t be fooled into hiding behind your cape (namely apron!) you are in hospitality! You should be cleaning vacuuming, mopping too! And when it comes to customers you are their best friend. They are always right : almost! This is where ego can come in. You need to humble yourself and accept your role as a wholistic barista. You are all three parts: Machine Operator, Artist and Customer service rep. Here’s how to help:

  • Life Plan – Realise that this is one step in your glorious career. You may want to start your own cafe. Keep a clear vision of the future, remember it everyday. Do not get angry at God or the people around you when it takes time. Always assume your goals will cost 10x more and take 10x longer than you first imagined!
  • A final thought on Tax and Superannuation: be financially responsible. Often money worries cause the most problems. Talk to your accountant or visit business.vic.gov.au. Get rid of all credit cards and find a financial coach or business mentor.


    Dolce Espresso | The Drum


    Positioned at the opening of the Drum – a food court in Westfield Doncaster – Dolce Espresso is clearly an Italian cafe experience: gleaming white LaMarzocco FB80, 4 Mazzer grinders and a dazzling display of colourful cakes all scream “Italy”.

    However the quality of the espresso is not the old school bitter italian robusta special, it’s a modern specialty coffee. Dark roasted with subtle fruitiness the espressos are rich and creamy with nice acidity.

    Dolce Espresso at Westfield Doncaster on Urbanspoon}

    Pallet Espresso

    Pallet espresso hidden in the back lanes of Spencer and Little Collins combines authentic Japanese cuisine with world class specialty coffee. A bold and timely move by owner operator, Peter, of wildly successful Purple Peanuts.


    The wooden theme (hence; pallet) is a beautiful artistic design that compliments the deli cafe feel while combining those aesthetics with the Asian takeaway.


    Walls are decorated with chip board, menus are black board encased in pallets of wood and the glossy tables are a rainbow of wooden thatch.

    I can’t fault the espresso. Perfectly balanced champion from sensory lab – a seasonal espresso that keeps baristi on their toes – bringing out the subtleties of fruitiness and lemon acidity without losing any of the body. Well done David! No funny business there!

    As a coffee buff I have yet to try the Asian cuisine however I am a frequent visitor to Purple Peanuts next door and can say that while the menu at pallet is shorter it will be just as sweet!

    Twitter.com/@palletespresso If you can’t find pallet is across the road from Spencer Street Station. Enter via Collins Street.

    Pallet Espresso on Urbanspoon

    ORA specialty coffee

    Like a far away holiday for the soul is Ora Coffee for the specialty coffee pilgrim looking for the comfort of a consistenly good coffee! Furthermore they are open late on Friday and Saturday nights. Sip cold drip, or order a Shiraz and a cheese plate and you’re home!

    All coffees are roasted in house and expertly brewed. Hidden away in a kew shoping strip a hop skip and jump from the Easten Freeway Ora is a by-pass coffee shop for travellers to and from the city. Locals rampage the place on weekends and it’s hard to find a seat in the old brick house with shop in front. 

    Here are some pics of the various coffees I had at my last sitting: 

    Choose from 6 various single origins:


    Expertly brewed and presented:

    All types of filter available!



    Sitting outside in the sun or inside with a friend is my choice. The staff are always friendly and the baristi expertly trained. 

    Recommend travelling by car as public trasport may be a concern. 

    Ora (Twitter.com/@ORA_cafe) is at 156 pakington st, Kew, Victoria. 


    Ora Cafe on Urbanspoon

    Miss Marie Rosanna

    Miss Marie has been adopted by Rosanna and the surrounding areas as family. Introduced to me by an 86 year old woman from preston who “knows her coffee” I was dubious at first however my family and I have been frequent visitors to this 5 Senses cafe in the north-east for over twelve months now.


    People from the city don’t understand how valuable a specialty coffee cafe is to those of us thirty minutes drive out of the city! To be able to have confidence in your coffee is a valuable commodity – and the twenty minute wait for a table is proof of that!


    Haven in the north!

    Paul, owner and founder of Miss Marie was formerly the operator of LaPorchetta in Ivanhoe. It seems like a far cry from a pizzas haven but Paul has brought a majestic flare to what is now home to many a northeasterner.

    Placed down a side street in the busy yet vibrant Rosanna shopping strip, nestled next to an old and frequented op shop, and a brief stroll to the train line, Miss Marie is a beacon of hope for the coffee pilgrims of the north east.

    Exposed brick, wooden mismatch bar and bright colours are a quiet nod to the modern upbeat cafes South of the Yarra that may have inspired some of the menu items and coffee excellence of this señorita.

    The steak sandwich!

    I have personally had at least twenty visits to this item since they opened! (Shhhh!) Optionally served with the most delicious and crispy golden fries, the pull-apart scotch fillet is super tender and marinated with a house mayonnaise, enveloped in a vintage cheddar and served with rocket. Simple but divine!

    The thing that surprised and excited my wife and I is that the customer service, coffee and dishes alike are remarkably consistent and excellent. Week in, week out, no matter what time of day the offering is consistent and impeccable!

    Family affair!

    I have included a photo of my son and I (with Iron Man) because this is a family affair for me and many of the community. Paul, alongside his sisters and family operate this business and I am sure that family is key to the success. Whether it is the dark horse blend with milk and a steak sandwhich or swinging buy on the way to the train for a Costa Rican long black, I highly recommend this beautiful specialty coffee community.

    Miss Marie on Urbanspoon