Image credit: Sample Coffee Pro Shop
It’s a common tragedy, when a small enterprise tries to capitalise on its successes by expanding, and gets too big for its boots. See the macaron craze. Or the fourth season of Arrested Development.
Luckily, history doth not repeat itself with the Sample Coffee Pro Shop. Coffee lovers from the Surry Hills-side know all about Sample, the little hole-in-wall espresso bar that consistently rates among the best coffees in Sydney.
Owner Reuben Marden (and Sydney’s reigning best barista) has taken things up a notch, opening up a second shopfront in a St. Peters warehouse space. The Pro Shop has two notable differences from its Surry Hills origins. 1) It’s huge. We’re talking cartwheel-worthy space here. And cartwheels are what you’ll be doing when you figure that… 2) They do food.
Sambos are the name of the hunger game here. The pumpkin s’wich boasts cumin-roasted pumpkin, sprinkled with almonds and pickled celery, drizzled with harissa mayo, and served on a dense, nutty bun from Brickfields bakery. It’s one of those vegetarian-dishes-even-meat-lovers-love, and hits the right notes of acidity, spice, texture, and all-round deliciousness. There’s usually a slow-cooked meat option of some kind—on the day we visit, it’s slow-cooked beef with provolone and pickles.
The salad is a pretty jumble of watercress, goat’s cheese and radish, studded with gems of blood orange and roasted beetroot. It’s the type of light and leafy meal that Lululemon-wearers would call ‘clean-eating’, but we simply call ‘bloody tasty’.
Disclaimer: It’s best not to get attached too quickly to any item, as there’s a regular seasonal turnover in the menu. One of us nearly had a mini-depressive episode when their favourite zucchini sandwich was taken off the menu.
The coffee standard is impeccably high. The manual brew filter coffee from Kenyan Kiangoi beans is gloriously clean and fruity, while a follow-up single-origin espresso is rich and full-bodied.
The baristas are walking, talking coffee versions of Ask Jeeves, and are eager to engage in all manner of bean-talk. If you’re eyeing off the beans and coffee-brewing paraphernalia lined up for sale along the walls, you should pick their brains as to how to achieve the best home-brew. And take a peek at their original Probat coffee roaster next door – it’s a mammoth thing, built in 1940s Germany, and shipped from Poland.
St. Peters has been missing a decent coffee joint for some time, and Sample goes above and beyond its call of duty with this dedicated caffeine plus food venture. The same warehouse complex already houses a brewery, and an axe-throwing centre is in the works. Yes. Axes. We said axes. Watch this space.