When it comes to our long-lasting love affair with coffee, we all know this city prefers boutique fabulous over, say, evil green and white corporate giants intent on, if nothing else, killing tastebuds. Piccolo Me, however, a 100 percent Australian venture launched by brothers Roy and Charlie Hachem that aims to bring back some much needed "soul" to the chain industry, is pulling out some pretty quirky stops to help attract a crowd. And so far so good: it looks like those stops are bringing in the go.
We decided to head along to Piccolo Me's Bridge Street store in the CBD (you can also find a fix on Castlereagh, as well as Macquarie Uni and Norwest Business Park by the way). The setup here is good, with a decent street-fronted waiting area complete with large counter, warehouse-inspired stalls and Connect Four if you're in between meetings and need to give the old feet and brain a rest. Otherwise you can pop round to the dining area, illuminated by some pretty nifty, diagonal bare bulb lighting, which features a cute plant wall with a multitude of green sprouts homed in self-branded black and yellow cups.
As dining goes, there's nothing really that special on the menu – think all the usual carb and filling-based quick and tasty hunger killers. However, in these guys' defence, all said bread-based goods are sourced from The Bread and Butter Project (where 100 percent of profits go towards helping in-need communities), and more importantly, you don't really come here to eat. You come here to drink.
On that front, another of Piccolo Me's philosophies focuses on local industry and sustainability, so your caffeine, in the form of organic Fairtrade beans only, is chosen from local roasters (a cup of Joe comes in at $3.50 for a regular and just $2 for a piccolo between the hours of 3pm and 4pm). But then there's the Nerdtella Bomb of Nutella, Nerds and milk; an evolution of Piccolo Me's initial Nutella mocha or hot chocolate that, as well as combining the Hachem brother's love of sweet treats, is so pop culture-tastic it received international attention from Huffpost Taste. Yes, it's very sweet and totally worth it if you need to binge on something ridiculous, but sadly no, it's not that amazing. You can certainly taste the tang of the nerds combined with the smooth, chocolately Nutella, but once the speckled brown nugget melts off its stirring stick, it clumps at the bottom. This is fine if you're sitting in, but on the go is not such a hot look.
The gravitational behaviour of melted breakfast spread and lollies aside, however, we have to admit the team at Piccolo Me have done a fantastic job with their marketing. All you need to do is wander around the CBD circa 3pm and it won't take you long to see some busy businesswoman throwing back a black and yellow $2 afternoon saviour. And, if we're to believe all this soul and sustainability stuff too, then what else can we say? Piccolo Me, piccolo you.