Dining: A room full of beans

 

THERE’S usually a great story behind a name and The Cupping Room is no exception. No, it’s not the cupping of the massage-therapy type. It’s the process coffee roasters use to judge coffees.

With its prime location in the city, The Cupping Room is full of beans. The team from Ona Coffee designed the concept hoping to “develop customers’ tastebuds”. It might sound pretentious, as does The Cupping Room’s claim that “we don’t just cup coffee, we cup life”, but the reality is the place oozes passion.

It was pumping at lunch, but we were immediately spotted by friendly staff and seated in “about ten”.

The food line up takes you on a world tour… Costa Rica, Colombia, India, Cuba, Asia… and it was challenging to decide what trip to take.

I ended up in Colombia with a daily special that was colourful and soul satisfying. The Colombian Potatoes ($18) featured grilled chorizo sausage, baked beans, corn, house-cured heirloom tomatoes, spinach, poached eggs and a slightly firey barbecue sauce. Yummo.

My dining partner headed for the Sashimi-grade garfish fillets, but it was sold out (c’est la vie with daily specials). The Super Salad came to the rescue, a lovely mix of kale, roast pear, roast pumpkin, walnuts and Yarra Valley Persian feta ($15).

Lunch also includes a roast root veggie salad, a venison patty with aromatic herbs, a slow-braised lamb neck curry with Indian spices, an oven-roasted chicken thigh in Costa Rican marinade and other scrumptious – and refreshingly different – items.

Breakfast runs all day and apparently the “Not so Benedict” is super. The poached local eggs come with silverside, braised savoy cabbage and a Dijon blanquette ($16), again refreshingly different. And kids are well taken care of all day, including with baby quinoa bircher and housemade coco pops.

But let’s get back to coffee. I’ve heard some say the barristas at The Cupping Room are rigid with what they’re prepared to serve up (remember the soup Nazi on “Seinfeld”?). Filter coffee is only served black. A long black is with 70C water, a white coffee is served at 60C and so it goes. I get this, since the true taste of coffee – like red or white wine – is served a certain way for balance and flavour. I don’t know what The Cupping Room would do if you asked for a hot long black, or for milk with your filter coffee, but hope they would be accommodating.

The Cupping Room has a great vibe, a great fit-out (although the ventilation inside needs to better deal with the smells from the kitchen) and a great possie. I’ll be back, and soon.

 The Cupping Room. University Avenue and London Circuit, Civic, call 6257 6412.

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