Archive for February, 2010

The Spin Room

Working out on a Saturday at 7:30 in the morning does not sit well with my Friday night antics.

Especially, when you have a man dressed like Lance Armstrong intimidating the giggly bits brought on by last nights’ dinner.

Right past Separation Street, next to a bakery in Northcote lives The Spin Room, a lively indoor cycling studio with a twist.

Sam Stapleton, creator and instructor, has brought hospitality to the otherwise banal ritual of exercising. He has intertwined two of Melbourne’s latest cultural phenomenons, cycling and coffee.

 “Early in the morning coffee is on people’s minds.” Sam explains, “It’s a great ice-breaker and is a simple way to create a great uplifted mood for the rest of the class.”

Nearly everyone has been to a café, but a cycling class full of people dressed like they are about to compete can be pretty daunting for a beginner. So with good reason, Sam placed an espresso machine in the middle of his studio.

“It takes away the intimidation of that new class, new experience nervousness. A short black is the most uncomplicated form of coffee and it is a good way to invite a first-timer and get more personal with them. Everyone loves a chat over coffee.”

The Australian Institute of Sport established in 2004 that a serving of caffeine benefits endurance athletes and general performance over a range of different sports.

 A short black is not enough to cause a diuretic effect. The small amount actually energizes the body for physical activity. This is one of the reasons it’s the only thing on the menu.

“A short black is simple and basic which goes hand in hand with exercise, they are both natural.”

Sam, an ex-chef who took up cycling a decade ago, wanted to move away from the long hours and inconsistency in hospitality. It’s no wonder his studio has the social vibe of a café, not a place you dread going to.

 “I’m trying to create a relaxed atmosphere away from a high tech world, a place to chill out and do something for yourself.”

I was more buzzed than relaxed as I pedalled like a maniac yet the theme is certainly catching.

Spinning enthusiasts dropped by and put their name on the schedule for the next class. The list was full by the time I left and a couple of people from the class were organizing breakfast. After the sweating, it had become a place to hang out.

The spinning was tough and I’m still not sure 7:30 was the most fitting time. However, I certainly felt ready to conquer the world after all that adrenaline and caffeine.

The Spin Room

New Location: Upstairs,  407 Plenty Road, Preston

Price: $15 a class, $12 for Spin Boxing (shoulders beware, this is an energetic cross-cardio class)


Free Food!

Remember me?!

Yes, it’s true I’m giving away free food at Caffeine this friday (19/2).

More specifically, I’m mixing up a batch of espresso brownies that will hopefully blow your socks off and keep you buzzing throughout the day.

In case you need a memory boost click here to view my Magic Brownies post.

They won’t be displayed, so in order to sink your teeth into one you need a password, which is:

May I please have a brownie

So come on in, have a chat and get your brownie on!

My Compliments with Breakfast

A great coffee is finger licking good. Coffee that’s amazing will make you venture to an eatery where the food is mediocre, the service is slow yet just so happens to be packed like a can of sardines.

When breakfasters devote their weekend mornings to their favourite hole in the wall or unnamed den that boasts a great goat’s cheese omelette, it’s really all about the coffee.

But which coffee goes with what dish? Will a long black compliment the smoked salmon sitting on a pile of hollandaise and eggs?

I went from Northcote to Brunswick, Thornbury to Wesgarth, Coburg to Collingwood in order to find a flattering combination of coffee and food. I woke up early each Saturday for the past month to see which coffee brought out the best in breakfast.

As much as I trust my own palate, I also used a food pairing guide to keep me on track. I am after all a soy drinker.

I stuck to the more traditional dishes, ones found in most cafés, in order to provide a rough guide when food pairing. Maybe you’ll re-think the usual next time you are out and about enjoying the most important meal of the day.

Eggs Benedict (eggs, hollandaise, english muffin, ham)- A long black or short black will go nicely with this breakfast staple. The acidity in the coffee will bring out the lemon from the hollandaise. The ham also goes well with black coffee as it is a rather flavourful meat. The bitterness of the espresso competes with the strong taste of ham bringing out the sweetness it has to offer.

Eggs Florentine (eggs, spinach, hollandaise, sourdough bread/english muffin)- Same as above I’m afraid. The exception being the spinach which has such a distinct flavour it is best paired with just espresso in order to allow your palate to taste every part of this dish.

Big Breaky (This kitchen sink breakfast is usually with sausage, bacon, tomato, mushroom, eggs, bread and sometimes a minute steak)- Mushrooms and tomatoes go well with milk. Milk tends to put a damper on the acidity that tomatoes can cause and mixes well with mushrooms. But there is a lot of meat on this plate which calls for black coffee. I would suggest a strong latte, just enough milk and plenty of espresso to brighten this heavy meal.

Muesli (this varies from place to place)- Nothing like a big bowl of Bircher with a scoop of Greek yoghurt to meet your carb quota for the week. Milk and fruit are like peas and carrots. The fructose brings out the sweetness in milk whilst that sour fruity taste becomes more pleasant. I would choose a flat white or latte, both are the milkiest of coffees and that tad of espresso will compliment the bran and other nutty bits.

Pancakes or French Toast– If you are going to indulge at breakfast then go all out, pair these two delicacies with a cappuccino. The cappuccino has a lot of froth so it will taste stronger which goes well with fluffy pancakes or French toast soaked in syrup. Gooey sugar-laden breads need thick creamy froth, like cookies and milk, but that espresso will make the dark sugars from the syrup pop in your mouth!

Omelettes (I’m going to assume you picked one with cheese, served on toast)- Cheese seems to only suit black coffee although the bread and butter call for a base. I would suggest a long macchiato the rich espresso and touch of milk pair nicely with this classic.

Smoked Salmon (some places put this with hollandaise for a reason)- Fish actually tastes great with milk. The reason most breaky places put hollandaise on top is the same reason baristas mix milk with espresso, it works. I prefer a strong cappuccino (no chocolate) with this meal as the milk takes away some of the saltiness smoked salmon provides and the espresso revives my taste buds.

Switch up your routine saturday morning coffee, try something new. You never know, it could make that mediocre breakfast into the best thing you’ve ever eaten!

For Smokers Only

Hot coffee and thick clouds of smoke usually line the entrance of our little establishment, some of our customers love to get high off of nicotine and caffeine.

I notice most smokers go for the stonger beverages.  A long black, short macchiato or perhaps a strong latte seems to get them moving through the day even if they do have to stop in a few more times to maintain their buzz.

The heavy nicotine addicts frequent three to four times a day to sip and puff away giving truth to the ‘smoking break’ debate. But if everyone else in the office is going out for a coffee, why not have a smoke as well?

Smokers, both nicotine and caffeine make your body create dopamine. Combing the two means twice as much of this natural chemical gets put into your blood stream. It’s released from the brain producing a euphoric state every time you light up and ingest espresso.

So cigarettes and coffee together will make you more alert and relaxed, I think students call this efficiency. Sounds great, but before you light up and turn on your kettle there is a teeny tiny catch.

Nicotine actually cuts the amount of time caffeine gives you energy in half. Instead of the normal 3-4 hour latte high, it’s about 2 and the need to consume more coffee and smoke more cancer sticks increases. All your addicted senses want to do is go back to that dopamine induced stage of productivity.

The mixture of nicotine and caffeine makes breaks more necessary. As you sit there tapping at your desk waiting for someone, anyone to call a coffee break, you’re thinking of that cigarette, not the coffee.

Smoking and drinking coffee don’t go together because it counteracts the one thing coffee so magically does, keeps efficiency in the workplace and moral high. The dopamine from caffeine lasts much longer than that of a cigarette and makes your breath much more pleasant.

Give up the double dose of chemicals in the morning. It’ll not only save you a ton of money but it will also stop the 10 am twitches that cause you to grab a ‘coffee’ with the delivery man.



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