Perth has no lack of coffee procuring cafes, but rarely do I find places that do it all and do it well. But once I do, I will return - again and again in anticipation of the sensational euphoria that comes from downing a beautifully made, flavourful cup of my preference. Coffee wise, I'm an even split between being a "Long Mac" drinker (otherwise known as a Double Ristretto, Piccolo Latte, Gibraltar or a Double Shot Latte, depending on what part of the world you roam about) and being a Mocha enthusiast. And when I'm not feeling the espresso side of things, I prowl around in hopes of finding Perth's best Chai Latte.
Espresso, Chai and Chocolate - possibly three of the most versatile and three of my most favourite flavours of all time. Naturally so, for me these three things are also the quintessential aspects that elevate a cafe or a coffee shop that is visited purely out of convenience, into an essential pitstop that has the potential to set your day back on track again. It's all about strong, and complex flavours that engulf your senses seconds after the very first mouthful.
If I had to simply describe The Little Concept one word, that word would be warm. Warmth was the first thing I noticed upon walking into the suburban nook along Wray Avenue in Fremantle and it was last thing that I held in between my fingers when I left. (In the form of a much needed takeaway coffee) The second thing I noticed about The Little Concept, was their lack of an extensive food menu. This surprised me, as even the cafe that I consider having "The Best Coffee in Perth" has extended from being just Coffee Specialists, to now offering a small (but extremely satisfying) Breakfast and Lunch menu. What I found instead was an attractive display of small eats, gluten free delights, Rawsome treats and other baked goods.
One of my first questions to owner, barista and THE Infusion Distributor, Michael Allegretta was, "Do you have any plans to do breakfast?". After my experience at The Little Concept, I hold Michael's answer very highly - he has no plans to offer customers an a la carte menu. Others like myself might initially wonder, "Why?" His explanation was that doing so would take attention, care and effort away from the coffee. I soon found that this was not just all talk and no walk. Shifting the focus from food to beverages is seen less and less around contemporary Perth cafes, but I was lucky enough to experience first hand the quality that comes from such committed and passion filled focus. "Speciality Coffee, Tea and Chocolate" - it's on the door, and it's an ever present concept that is sanctioned throughout the small cafe.
Michael invited me to try The Little Concept's three unique offerings - Red Espresso, Prana Chai and Mörk Chocolate. Here we have a homely, suburban cafe that has an extensive beverage menu that could cater to any taste bud. And they do it so well! As hard as it is now for me to imagine a group of people who aren't fond of espresso, the fact of the matter is - I use to be one of those people. My palate is always developing; I didn't try nor like chickpeas till last year, but these days...there's always at least one tub of hummus in my fridge! I only really started having coffee after I left high school, and before then I was very much so a Chai Latte or a youthful Hot Chocolate kind of person. Do note that each of my samples were served in smaller espresso sized glasses, and normal servings are much larger! I've included the standard pricing in all of the captions.
MÖRK HOT CHOCOLATE
I first heard of Mörk the brand through the Instagram grapevine; having originated from Melbourne, I actually hadn't had the opportunity to try any until today. Mörk Original Dark is made with 70% cacao, which is originally sourced from Sur Del Lago in Venezuela. Admittedly, I'm more of a milk chocolate kind of person and I like my Hot Chocolates thick and creamy (think San Churros Azteca Hot Chocolate). For me, this didn't have the great vivacious body that I like in a thick hot chocolate, despite it's true cacao flavour. Unbelievably so, Mörk have managed to make Dark Hot Chocolate even darker! Appropriately named Mörk Even Darker (85%); which I'm sure would be much welcomed to true Dark Chocolate fans. As for me, I'm the type to sprinkle crushed rock salt over portions of Milk Chocolate and so naturally, I heavily anticipate the arrival of Mörk Dark Milk & Salt (65%). This is definitely at a more manageable cacao level for me, whilst also celebrating two of my favourite flavour combinations together!
Mörk Mocha - $5.00 / Mörk Affogato - $5.00
Iced Mörk Chocolate - $6.50 / Iced Mörk Mocha - $6.50
For the health conscious, I highly recommend ditching traditional espresso and giving it's South African, antioxidant rich cousin, Red Espresso a spin. My first Rooibos tea experience was in Moore & Moore a couple of years back (which is coincidentally also in Fremantle) where I was presented with a rich, bright red shot of tea based "Teaspresso" which was to be poured over a tall glass of Iced Apple Juice and. Essentially imagine any espresso based beverage you can think of, but now you can enjoy it in a nice shade of red. I've always been a fan of Red Espresso; it has the same intense body and complexity that I find so interesting in coffee and yet, it has it's own unique sweetness. I'm happy to see the product becoming more widely available around Perth, and would recommend any coffee lover to try their cappuccino in red next time!
Red Americano - $3.50 / Red Cappuccino $3.50 / Fresh Red - $6.50
Iced Red Mango - $6.50 / Iced Red Peach - $6.50 / Iced Red Latte - $6.50
Red Symphony (White Chocolate & Cinnamon) - $5.00 / Iced Red Symphony - $7.00
I'm no stranger to Prana Chai; and as much as the Chai Masala blend is readily available at most of my favourite cafes in Perth, it happens to be as abused as it is used. All too often, I'm met with thin and watery cups of overpriced bland. So in turn, unfortunately I'm unable to associate the Prana Chai brand with a guaranteed excellent Chai Latte, and I have since made it my mission to seek out individual cafes that do it right. (For more on this, search Instagram for #philosophicalchai) I can safely say that The Little Concept produced one of the most delicious and full flavoured Chais I've ever experienced. Michael explained that an adequate amount of the spice blend had to be added whilst the milk was being frothed in order to embody a full chai flavour, and I can only hope that other cafes around Perth will follow suit. I would highly recommend the Chai Latte here, which I think is well worth $5 and wouldn't hesitate to come back for.
Chai Latte - $5.00 / Chai Tea - $4.00 / Iced Vanilla Chai - $6.50
After spending a weekend's morning in the Little Concept, I was able to experience a different philosophy and vision that is rarely embodied world of hospitality. The cafe's lively and passionate spirit is a wonderful thing to experience. I saw many customers flitting in that were clearly regulars, including pairs and small groups that gathered around the communal table to enjoy the extensive beverage menu and baked treats that were on offer. The staff are not only talented baristas but also seem joyously carefree, which adds to the warm and inviting atmosphere. The Little Concept could very well be the bustling backdrop for any creative mind or a favourite meeting spot for all kinds of conversations. It's hard to find places like this in Perth, and I'm thankful to Michael for asking me to drop by, for maybe it would have been awhile before I got the chance to enjoy such a lovely place. I grabbed a couple of takeaway coffees (Long Mac: $4 and Latte: $3.50) for the road, and I can affirm that I will be back - not only for the vibe, but also because this was one of the best cups of coffee I've had in 2013. "Speciality" indeed.
Monday to Friday from 7:00 am till 5:00 pm, Weekends from 8:00 am till 3:00 pm.
dinewhitme.com sampled Mörk Chocolate, Red Espresso and Prana Chai, courtesy of Michael Allegretta and the team at The Little Concept.