Tucked up on the business end of Commonwealth Street, this little café takes its coffee very seriously. Upon entry the blackboard gives you three espresso options - the house blend (which is excellent) and two single origin beans - as well as four different syphon varieties and a cold drip, all of which change pretty regularly. Though it sits beneath the imposing façade of a high-rise building, there is nothing sterile or unwelcoming about this café.
The fitout gently hints at the psyche of the modern Australian man, a table made from a reclaimed workbench, old framed photographs of Monaros and school class portraits, and along one wall, a mural showing the evolution of man from ape to the coffee-swilling dominant species we are today, complete with top hat. The water comes in Coopers longnecks and they use those lovely enamel tin mugs and plates that a jackeroo would take out mustering.
It’s not about what’s on the menu, but how they do it at this inner-city hideaway. The usual suspects are all there - BLAT, bacon and egg sambo, granola - as well as the thoughtful additions of a roast veggie sandwich for meat-free types, and a savoury, vegan-friendly option of mushrooms and hummus on rye bread. Sweet tooths need look no further than the pikelets with 'stuff'. The 'stuff' turns out to be layers of triple berry jam and whipped ricotta with a berry compote and fresh fruit over the top. It could just as easily appear on a dessert menu but still has enough heft to feel like you’ve had a proper meal.
If it’s past elevenses then you’d be a fool not to give the chicken burger a go. It is an excellent example of how simple is best when it comes to the hot sandwich - grilled chicken, shredded lettuce, tomato, mayo and an awesome chilli salsa is all you really need for the perfect lunch. It can be surprisingly difficult at times to find a café in the city that ticks all the boxes, but now that we’ve met Joe Black, we reckon we’ve found the one.