Unexpectedly tucked away in the middle of Hendra, Dandelion & Driftwood is an inner suburban gem. Stripy awnings, bright umbrellas, cream cast iron tables and a dapper chap peddling an outdoor coffee cart draw your attention. The art, science and religion of coffee all culminate here.
Devout followers can be seen lining up at the cart for each day's morning service. The smell of coffee grasps your senses. Once inside, the cafe's old-world ambience charms with an urban chic. Lace curtains and pressed tin walls meet rustic tables and perspex chairs. Attention is in the detail, with staff decked out in stripy aprons, collared shirts and bowties. At the counter, cakes stacked high in tiers temp with mini sweet tarts, cupcakes and macarons.
Weekends are a busy affair, so it pays to book ahead for groups. Husband-and-wife team Peter and Penny Wolff's passion for coffee is evident in the wall of accolades and awards. Peter, a roaster with 30 years experience, has created D&D's two signature blends — aptly named 'Dandelion' and 'Driftwood'. Described as the Yin and Yang, one is smooth and sweet, the other sharp and bitter.
All coffees are delivered to your table with a small card detailing the origin, grower and even the bean's growing altitude. Sip by sip, follow each card's tasting notes. Dandelion gives hits of toasty caramel and dark cocoa, ending on a fruity note, whereas Driftwood is
heavier with notes of molasses and cedar, creamy ganache and subtle apricot ($4 each). The experience is like wine tasting; good luck stopping after one.
Speaking of tastings, pull up a chair at Dandelion and Driftwood?s 'Brew Bar'. More like a science lab than a cafe bar, what looks like an experiment with beakers and test tubes is in fact a range of high-tech glass, wooden and metal contraptions used to extract the beans. Penny says coffee from the 'Brew Bar' is to be savoured over half an hour or so. And it?s worth taking note; Penny was a judge for the Australian International Coffee Awards.
Food is a simple affair. For a sweet morning treat, try the grandpa-style waffles ($14.50) with warm berry compote and vanilla ice cream, and for those needing a savoury indulgence, the Big Bad Wolff egg, bacon and onion jam toastie ($10.50) is a hit (also available gluten free).
Coffee novices do not despair. Staff are more than willing to share their knowledge and make recommendations on the blends and single-origin coffee available that day. The owners ensure rotating single-origin choices (sourced direct from the grower) are on offer at all times from their roasting house.