Sun – Sat: 7am – 5pm
Coffee: Code Black house blend, Single Origins, filter (in addition, a specialty selection of loose tea)
“It’s a celebration of black excellence, black tie, black Maybachs. Black excellence, opulence, decadence. Tuxes next to the president – Jay Z”
“American rap/hip-hop is a profound business model. Going from ‘hood’ music that promoted gang-related disputes, has not only exploded into mainstream music but infused other genres. From jazz to electronic, it has just about utilised every music genre and entered into every age group. The Australian black coffee culture seems to have taken a leaf or two out of the rap book. As a custom, roasted coffee beans were initially imported and served black to the migrants of various nationalities who arrived in Australia. As time progressed, black coffee was introduced as a beverage for the young and old. Today there are cafes like Patricia which serve only black coffees. Single Origin blends are often recommended for black or white coffees only, depending on the bean. Even Miss SL has been converted into a double espresso drinker. Code Black Coffee recently opened up in Brunswick, and we decided to check it out with Big Bro, Power Ranger and Jay Jay.
The colour black is the dominate theme. The front entrance is built with black industrial beams that creates an outdoor patio. The interior design seems to have a little bit of an identity crisis. On one hand the large, long room with the industrial tin roof gives the impression of a blue-collar environment. On the other hand, the selection of industrial influenced furniture pieces, the small rectangular kitchen window buzzing with cooks and the impressive coffee setup oozes brunch central. Even the boys who never really comment on cafe’s set up were impressed!
The night before this brunch, I was a little too enthusiastic with Friday night shenanigans. My ‘hangover’ was in full flight and it wasn’t planning on leaving. In such a dire state a long black - Kenya single origin [~$3.70] was ordered to put me on the path to recovery. The coffee was served with the water separate, which is the sign of a thoughtful barista. Without the additional water, the blend was full bodied and very sweet. The water helped to tame the sweetness and allowed for a crisper flavour. I noticed that once the sweetness dissolved it left a slightly acidic taste on the back of the my palate. Overall, it was a strong coffee that showed diversity.
The impressive theme that runs throughout the brunch menu at Code Black Coffee, is the large selection of good vegetarian options. Being aware that decision-making is likely worse with a hangover present, the Baked eggs w leek puree, baby spinach, soft goats cheese & polenta fingers [$17.90] + smoked bacon [$20.90] seemed like the perfect idea.
Whilst the plating was simply immaculate, it needs to be highlighted that this dish was quite rich. The combination of the leek puree, spinach and goats cheese created a thick, creamy sauce which held the dish together. The fresh spinach and the eggs married well, increasing the creamy texture. The bacon strips were wafer thin and didn’t add any value as it was lost within the sauce. The polenta fingers perfectly complementary to the baked eggs. They were shaped like chips and fried to have a crispy exterior. The polenta chips were the highlight of the dish and I really enjoyed dunking the fingers into the baked eggs!
Power Range & Big Bro were not so impressed when it came to a vegetarian focused menu. With this in mind, they happily elected for the Open steak of bacon sandwich, tomato, cos lettuce & avocado on toasted sourdough [$19] w fried egg [$22]. Not only did it look divine in its overall presentation, the big and thick delicious bacon was to die for.
Jay Jay has become very diligent with his workouts as of late and had already “smashed” his gym session earlier that morning. Whether he was keen or just crazy, he decided on the Smoked ham hock croquettes w cauliflower puree, baby spinach & poached egg [$18] for some protein goodness. Whilst the presentation looked amazing with the various levels of flavours and textures, it was a case of expectation mismatch. I had a cheeky taste and the smoked ham was prominent and well-matched with the rich puree.
There are only a few cafes which can open a large and complex set up and start hitting sixes straight off the bat. Code Black Coffee might be an undiscovered gem for now, but if they keep this standard up it will seriously turn into a brunch institution which everybody will be talking about.”
“In-vin-ci-ble [adj.] incapable of being conquered, defeated, or subdued.
We’ve all been there. Had that feeling. ‘I can do whatever I like tonight and I’ll pull up fine in the morning. I can do anything. I am the master of my body and it succumbs to my wishes.’ Sometimes we’re right. Sometimes, we are all powerful and mighty, doing as we please, waking up the next morning fresh as a daisy. Every now and then though, our body remind us that no, you cannot do whatever the heck you want. There are rules and they must be obeyed.
On the day that Mr LB and co decided to have brunch at Code Black Coffee, I was having what some refer to as ‘a humbling experience’. I awoke with a belly rolling in unease and a head that was throbbing in time with my oh-so-loud pounding heart. I wasn’t even sure if I could make it 10 minutes down the road to get to brunch. But, how could I let you all down though? So I put on my shoes and my bicycle helmet and rode very slowly down the backstreets of Brunswick to my brunching destination.
I’d arrived before the others and put my name down with the maître d’. Apart from the immediate impression of opulence from the venue, the high quality service was hard not to notice. Having a browse around while I waited for the others, I couldn’t help but love the clean lines of the interior. The section to the left of the entrance was designed for groups with the counter and barista station in the centre of the room, splitting it in two. To the right of the counter was seating for couples and singles to enjoy their morning brew. Out the back were beautifully designed booths that oozed a feeling of private relaxation.
Taking a table in the front portion of the cafe near a giant beam, I gingerly ordered a Berry Smoothie [~$5] as I couldn’t bring myself to face caffeine. It arrived before the boys did and was really lovely and fresh. The smoothie was creamy and used fresh berry produce.
When the boys finally arrived and I could place my order of Artichoke & zucchini fritters w peas, poached egg, mint & preserve lemon [$15.90]. They all commented on the classiness of the venue before they started to share their war stories of the Friday night that had just been.
The only downside was that once the orders were through they took quite a while to be served. The atmosphere was nice and allowed for conversation at the table to flow without feeling like you were competing with the table next to you to be heard.
When my fritters came out I was delighted. The zucchini puree was completely different to what I was expecting and created such a gorgeous contrast against my Japanese-style plate. The fritters were almost entirely made of artichoke combined with lemon which was why they appeared so thin and flat. How unique! The combination of the artichoke with the zucchini completed the fritter experience. The egg was totally organic, noticeable by the yellow (not bright orange) yolk that oozed out of its perfectly poached casing.
Despite feeling horrendous and not being able to finish my dish, I was thoroughly impressed with Code Black Coffee – so much so that I went back the next day and had the Seasonal fruit w a honey labne [$9.90] – it was delicious! For years when people asked me ‘Where’s your favourite place to brunch?’ I would said, ‘Auction Rooms, of course.’ Now, however, I finally have a cafe to knock it off the top of my list – Code Black Coffee.”
Final Thought: “Worthy of taking the charge as Melbourne’s best brunch”