Shop 4, 15 Surf Road Cronulla, New South Wales 2230
|Opening hours||Daily 6am-6pm|
|Phone||0403 844 533|
With a line of people out the door and onto the footpath, the queue at Grind is visible even before the cafe.
This Cronulla institution is in its 10th year of operation and recently moved into new, larger digs on Surf Lane. Housing a ramshackle assortment of retro chairs and tables, it has a student vibe but is packed with a wide range of people, from students to families to retirees.
Photo boards line the walls and tell a visual history of the cafe, its staff and customers over the past decade. Some have even travelled overseas with an "I'd rather be at Grind" poster, and posed with it for photos taken around the world.
Did I mention it's a local institution?
It also takes its caffeinated beverages very seriously. There are coffee jugs on high shelving. An old railway-style sign (headed "All stations to Grind Lane") lists the brews on offer, including ristretto, flat white, Italian espresso, iced coffee and Turkish coffee. Having forgone our morning caffeine hit in anticipation of this visit we place a coffee order quickly, braving the queue while contemplating food and the more specialised coffee offerings.
On one side of the cafe is a science lab of equipment, including a beautiful vintage Faema President lever arch espresso machine, as well as cold-press and siphon paraphernalia. A blackboard spruiks the cold-press options for this week and, with guidance from the staff, we choose an Ethiopian bean and, for novelty value, the Kopi Luwak. That's the coffee collected from the poop of that furry critter in Indonesia. It can apparently attract a hefty price tag but is the same price as the other coffees here.
The cold-press brews come in brandy snifter-style glasses and a barista talks us through the flavour notes we should seek. We're on the hunt for chocolate notes from the Ethiopian bean, and sweetness with a burst of berries from the Kopi Luwak. Tick, tick.
My lunch companions, though coffee drinkers, are more interested in the food options. There aren't that many: it's all about the coffee.
They go for croissants filled with prosciutto and provolone cheese. Toast is the only other option. I opt for the Turkish raisin bread.
Still hungry, we head back to the counter to choose little cakes displayed in a glass cabinet on the main bench. We share a couple of friands - raspberry and pistachio, orange and almond - plus a Portuguese tart. These are a nice finish to lunch but could have done with some time out of the refrigerated cabinet.
There is no table service so we hit the back of the queue each time we order, but it is fast-moving and never becomes an annoyance. We make one final trip to the counter before leaving, not to buy a branded frisbee, T-shirt or swimming cap - yes, they have a range of merchandise - but for a few bags of beans to take home.
It is easy to see why this place is such a hit with locals - the service is quick and friendly, there is seating inside and out, and the coffee is fantastic (as are the beans, I can report, having tried them at home).
Nevertheless, a visit at a non-peak time might be a better option for those wanting to indulge their inner coffee geek.