Little more than a hole in the wall on one side of a nondescript, marble and glass office foyer, the almost constant queue of thirsty suits thronging the pavement and public bench outside Black Velvet Espresso are a sure sign there’s something going on here.
That something is some seriously good espresso. Owners Darren and Jackie Silverman previously owned bigger cafés before getting out and working as wholesalers for Di Bella. They got back into the café business with Black Velvet Espresso two years ago, starting off with a bench top roaster in this teeny cubicle with its chessboard-tiled floor, and as demand grew, they upgraded to a much bigger, offsite roaster from where they now pump out beans under the Black Velvet Espresso name.
It's great stuff – the Voodoo Child house blend makes for a perfect nutty espresso and works just as well punched out as a silky smooth latte. You could, however, nerd out far harder. There are additional single origins, each with tasting notes and details of the bean's life story from shrub to cup scrawled on mirrors on the wall, and Darren is a font of knowledge who will happily walk you through the offerings on hand. They even offer barrista training and tasting courses, and there's a chunky stack of coffee books to read if you can manage to score one of the precious few stools attending two skinny wooden benches.
The food offering is sparse, but what they do, they do well. A glass cabinet displays cheesy egg and bacon muffins with caramelised onions giving them an extra kick and there’s a selection of thick cake slices. While summer bakes on relentlessly, they’re also whipping up homemade single origin espresso ice cream in waffle cones, providing the perfect caffeine hit without the heat.
Focused espresso bars are ten a penny in the city, including Patricia and Brother Baba Budan, but the combination of extensive knowledge, finely honed product and attentive service keeps the crowds coming to Black Velvet, and we don't see that stopping soon.