Gallery Cafe Xpress

For about seven years, we got by with a tiny television. It matched our tiny apartment. When we got a house, the TV stayed, and I didn’t think anything of it. Then, last year, as a reward for finally finishing the bathroom renovations, I bought a new television with over six times the screen area. A few months later, I had reason to fire up the old TV, and the first thing that went through my head was “how did I put up with this for so long?”

You may wonder what this has to do with coffee, so here’s the segue – Westfield Chermside recently opened part of its “Stage 6” expansion, which involved the conversion of its western row of shops from one story to two. They’ve done a pretty good job – the new section doesn’t just seem more airy due to its height, but the aisle between the shops actually feels wider than it used to be.

The issue with this is that where I replaced one television with another, the new and old co-exist at Westfield Chermside. And that’s a problem, because whereas in the past it didn’t seem that bad, now the old sections (primarily Stage 4 and before) seem really old and crappy. I’m talking “feeling like I’m in a subway” crappy.

The public transport analogy is apt, as this is the closest cafe to the bus terminus, and there were plenty of customers when Clara and I ordered our coffee. I must also mention that this was the second time that we had visited – a previous attempt at obtaining coffee was thwarted due to an absence of any staff, despite the registers and lights all being on. This time there was one staff member, and he was far too busy to clean tables, organise chairs, or do anything but serve and make coffee.

My coffee was not memorable, but Clara’s was really good (I always sample hers as well). I would have to put it in the top three that we have visited so far.

To sum up, if you’ve just got off a bus and are in a hurry, or if you value your child’s cafe experience over your own, this is your place. Otherwise, give it a miss!

3/10

Location: Westfield Chermside
Prices: Large Cappuccino $5.50, Babyccino $1.00
Seating: 30 – 50

Read some real reviews here.

Caffe Cherry Beans

Westfield’s level 2 shops opened a while back, and I was looking forward to sampling all of the new cafes with Clara. The only problem with that idea is that I could only find one cafe in the entire new floor. Maybe people like drinking their coffee at sea level?

Caffe Cherry Beans is nice enough inside – there is a lot of room in between the tables for prams (although Clara is getting a bit old for hers). The service was quick enough, but the drinks were nothing special. The price was also quite high.

Would I come here again? Maybe if I was with a parenting group, but otherwise, there are better offerings on the ground floor.

4/10

Location: Westfield Chermside
Prices: Large Cappuccino $5.40, Babyccino $1.50
Seating: 30 – 50

Read a real review here.

The Cupcake Patisserie

When I mention this blog to people, a common response is “I remember when babyccinos were free, it’s just a rip off now”. They may no longer be free (mostly), but you do get a lot more than some foamed milk in a tiny paper cup.

This cafe is an example of ‘modern’ babyccinery (my own term). Marshmallows, sprinkles and chocolate sauce in the shape of a smiley face on top of chocolate milk – no wonder it’s not free. Being a cupcake place, I expected the presentation to be good, and it didn’t disappoint.

Babyccinos are generally on the cooler side, but this one was chilled. This is no bad thing, just a bit different. My cappuccino was nice enough, but lacking slightly in creaminess.

Located in the middle of one of Westfield’s walkways, there is no space for larger prams. I couldn’t see any high chairs either.

Overall we enjoyed ourselves – but it’s best for the older children.

8/10

Location: Westfield Chermside
Prices: Large Cappuccino $5.00, Babyccino $1.50
Seating: 30 – 50

Read some real reviews here and here.

Starbucks

Some people have a big problem with coffee chains. In fact, for some it seems like a competition to find the tiniest, most obscure, most inaccessible cafe. I couldn’t care less for this. If a big chain serves up good coffee in a good atmosphere, that’s fine for me.

So I found myself at the chain to end all chains – Starbucks. This cafe is perpetually busy, so either they are doing something right, or people are sheep. I’m inclined now to think that it’s the former.

It’s definitely not the price that’s pulling people in. If I had asked for a marshmallow with the babyccino, the total cost would have been $6.45, which I believe is the most expensive cafe so far. You do get a lot for your money, with the cappuccino being very generous. However, Starbucks persists with their bloody stupid naming system.

The babyccino was almost all froth, which is fine in my books, but may make some feel short changed. I do think 25c for a marshmallow is a bit much, though. My cappuccino was very tasty.

The ordering area, which contains a few seats and bars, is very cramped. Luckily there is plenty of seating in the food court area which I believe is reserved for Starbucks customers. This is both varied in form and spacious – I had no trouble getting the pram around.

Overall, Starbucks is a pleasant place to have a good tasting coffee. Just don’t think that it’s a bargain.

7/10

Location: Westfield Chermside
Prices: Large Cappuccino $5.40, Babyccino $0.80
Seating: >100

Read some real reviews here, here and here.

Scuzi Cafe

I’ve been to Scuzi quite a lot. It’s well set up for prams, which means that we’ve met some other parents there. Additionally, it’s the location of the twice monthly parkrun coffee catchup. It’s just as well then, that I like it there.

Scuzi is located in the northern food court of Westfield, backing onto the car park. It also backs onto the kids’ play area, which incidentally contains a time capsule with a typo (hemishpere – oh dear). This, you may think, is going to be noisy. And you would be right, but generally there are so many people in the cafe that you don’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

Being in the new (2005) part of the shopping centre, there are lovely high ceilings, and the proximity to the open air gives a nice feel of spaciousness, not experienced at other cafes so far. Before ordering, I was given a bottle of water and a glass with ice, which is a cheap way of adding a bit of extra class.

The babyccino was served in a little glass, which made it look a bit like a miniature latte, but the taste was of a rich hot chocolate. I always try Clara’s drinks first, testing for heat, and I didn’t let her have the whole thing as she would have been bouncing off the walls.

Incidentally, they offer a drink for adults which produces a similar effect. Called a Mega Mug (although I have heard it called a bowl or bucket), it has five shots and costs $6.50. It’s great value, but I had one early in 2015 and didn’t feel right for the rest of the day. This time I stuck with the large, which was generous enough!

Overall, Scuzi is a great place to spend a couple of hours. It’s spacious enough, doesn’t cost too much and the staff are great. If the babyccino was a little less sugary then it would have scored a 10.

9/10

Location: Westfield Chermside
Prices: Large Cappuccino $4.50, Babyccino $1.50
Seating: >100

Read some real reviews here, here and here.

Stellarossa

This cafe is located on the southern end of Westfield Chermside, near the entrance where the southern food court meets the outdoor eating area. It’s busy, and there is really no escape. The cafe is long and thin, with no part of it being far from the masses.

The coffee size naming system is stupid. I shouldn’t have to check a list of names to see if I am getting the biggest one – I’m tired, cranky and want coffee, prestissimo. I understand the reasons behind making everything seem bigger than it is, but it just appears like the opposite of women’s clothes sizing (thankfully us guys seem to have avoided this). It’s confusing and doesn’t fool anyone.

Speaking of getting coffee quickly, I was very impressed with the service speed. I had barely got Clara and I to our seats and whipped out my notepad before the two drinks were delivered to our table. This was excellent, although the lack of spoon with the babyccino wasn’t. Paper cups were employed which seems a bit cheap considering that this cafe was in the upper half of the pricing spectrum.

It’s good if you want your coffee quick, but for me there is little other reason to recommend Stellarossa.

4/10

Location: Westfield Chermside
Prices: Large Cappuccino $4.80, Babyccino $1.00
Seating: 30-50

Read some real reviews here and here.

Donut King

I had some pretty clear expectations as to what I was going to get from Donut King, but I was proved wrong on two occasions.

I thought that it would be cheap. Wrong. In fact, at $6 for the two drinks, it was the second most expensive of the six cafes sampled so far. Yes, the cappuccino was a very generous size, but I was expecting a cheap bucket of coffee.

My second mistake was to think that it would be bland. I don’t normally comment on flavour, due to my defective sense of taste, but this was head and shoulders above anything tried so far.

There were, however, a few issues that brought this cafe down to the chain store level. I was sitting where two tables joined, and they were not the same height. It’s a small detail, but I spilled my coffee moving across the ‘drop’. Additionally, a bin and its lid were separated.

This could have been a 10/10 cafe. The orientation of the shop is good and it isn’t too noisy. Some will turn their noses up at visiting a Donut King, but it’s well worth a try.

8/10

Location: Westfield Chermside
Prices: Large Cappuccino $5.00, Babyccino $1.00
Seating: 50-100

Read a real review here.

Gallery Cafe

With the exception of the northern food court, much of Westfield Chermside feels just a little cramped. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I’m guessing that it has something to do with the height of the ceiling. The Gallery Cafe has no such problems, being located right next to the two-storey David Jones. There is an airy, spacious feel to this area that isn’t evident in other parts of the centre.

It is a shame then, that the layout of the chairs is so unusual. In some sections there is lots of space, in others it’s positively packed. The cafe atmosphere is nice, and it appeared that most of the clientele had just come out of DJ’s. This could explain the prices, especially considering the stingy size of my cappuccino.

It was nice enough, but considering that this was the first cafe where we’ve paid over $6, it wasn’t very special.

5/10

Location: Westfield Chermside
Prices: Large Cappuccino $4.90, Babyccino $1.50
Seating: 50-100

Read some real reviews here, here and here.

The Coffee Club

There are loads of coffee clubs around, and, as you may expect from a chain, they’re all much of a muchness. This one is located in one of the many walkway intersections in Westfield.

Being in the intersection is a bit different to being alongside the intersection (as Café Siena is, for example). It feels a little exposed, and this is emphasised by the slightly raised platform where I was seated. My preference is for seclusion, but then again, I don’t like people…

I have heard that free babyccinos used to be common. This may be true, but I had no need of them until a few months ago. They are definitely a profit-making venture nowadays, but it is refreshing to see that they can still be free in chain coffee shops. The babyccino can be had with a marshmallow, but I am not sure whether they charge for that as we avoid excess sugar.

All in all, I enjoyed my time at the Coffee Club. I got there at about 8.45, and as the crowds raced past, it was good not to be overwhelmed by the noise, as I had expected. Other, more extrovert people will probably enjoy it even more.

7/10

Location: Westfield Chermside
Prices: Large Cappuccino $5.10, Babyccino free
Seating: 50-100

Read some real reviews here, here and here.

Café Siena

This cafe is located on the southern end of Westfield Chermside, near Coles. It is on the corner of two busy walkways and suffers a little from excess noise. Additionally, I was sat next to a quite large structural pillar, which was annoying.

The coffee was nice, and a interesting touch was a section of the menu which explains how the various coffees are concocted. The babyccino was good and came with a jelly lolly, biscuit, and marshmallow, which was pretty good value for just over a dollar.

If you can get a seat well away from the passing hordes then it’s nice here. Otherwise you’re best off looking elsewhere.

7/10

Location: Westfield Chermside (southern end)
Prices: Large Cappuccino $4.70, Babyccino $1.10
Seating: 50-100

Read some real reviews here and here.