Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Coffee break in the country

The early morning rush to get four adults and two children ready and on the road for our day of berry picking at Pennyroyal, nearly two hours' drive away, meant that there was no time for a heart-starting shot of caffeine before we headed out the door.

By the time we arrived at 10.30am at Deans Marsh, a little town of nearly 700 people between Lorne and Winchelsea, our caffeine-deprived brains were screaming for a fix, and we pulled over when I spotted the words "take away cappuccinos" on the wall of the Deans Marsh General Store.

My mum grew up in Deans Marsh, so this town was like a second home to me when I was growing up, as we spent most school holidays here visiting our grandparents. Back then, it was a general store in the old-fashioned sense of the word. It sold newspapers, milk, butter, ice-creams, pies, lollies, tinned food and other grocery items - in short, everything you would need to pick up if you didn't have time to go into Birregurra or Colac to do your big weekly shop, or you ran out of an item mid-week. One thing it certainly did not sell was take-away cappuccinos.

But times have changed. Deans Marsh is no longer predominantly a farming community. Olives, grapes and llamas are some of the new local industries and artists and "tree-changers" have moved in from the city. The old Presbyterian church is now adorned with artistic rainbow-coloured ribbons and the garage has a cafe attached. And the Deans Marsh General Store makes coffee using Jasper Coffee, an Australian-owned company based in Collingwood.

The take-away cafe lattes were excellent: smooth with an aroma and flavour of caramel and a soft, mellow aftertaste. Deans Marsh has certainly changed but I'm thrilled that good coffee is now available there.

My second rural coffee of the week came during a day trip to Torquay on the Bellarine Peninsula. After a picnic lunch in the sun with friends, a dip in the ocean for the kids and an ice-cream to round things off, we farewelled our friends and went for a stroll and then a drive around town as we searched for a caffeine hit. There were several open-fronted cafes on the Esplanade but they looked upmarket and more for meals than a casual coffee with two rapidly tiring children in tow.

As we drove down Gilbert St in the town centre, I spied a cafe that looked like it might be OK and Adam miraculously found a carpark in the main street. As I opened the door, I found myself face to face with a Jasper Coffee - Caffeine Dealers banner and so I headed instead into Farm Foods, a butcher shop cum deli. I was a little sceptical when I first entered the shop: there was one person at the butcher's counter at the back of the shop and a man totting up the till at the front. I hesitantly asked if he served take-away coffees, which he did, and he turned to the large red Wega machine behind the counter. He made the coffee slowly but seemed to know what he was doing.

My first surprise came when he charged me $5 for two take-away lattes. I haven't paid $2.50 for a coffee for years! And certainly not in a beachside tourist town where coffee is usually more expensive than in Melbourne. The second surprise came when I took my first sip: this was, quite simply, one of the best coffees I've ever had. A nutty aroma, followed by a smooth-as-silk sensation on the palate with a lingering caramel aftertaste. It was such a drinkable coffee that I wished for a never-ending cup. Farm Foods will be my first stop next time I'm in Torquay.

Deans Marsh General Store, 1419 Birregurra Road, Deans Marsh

Farm Foods, 4a Gilbert Street, Torquay


eddie said...

a new cafe for you to try. the boys from 7 grams have opened the doors of their new cafe.
65 degrees
309 exhibition st
melbourne, vic. 3000
check it out - great coffee

Melinda said...

Thanks for the tip, Eddie! I will definitely check it out.