Where most cafes start out in a fringe CBD suburb and then expand into a city outlet, Mecca Espresso have done the reverse. They made their name in the city, and long have been the benchmark of truly great coffee at their King Street space. They have expanded out into the suburbs beginning with Ultimo and now have combined their roasting facility with an expansive location in Alexandria.
Alexandria for a long time was a bastion of light industry and warehousing but in recent years there’s been a shift to high density apartment construction. For new residents and visitors alike, that Mecca sign board outside is an invitation to sample amazing coffees and delicious food. The café itself is spacious and bright with a vintage retro décor. From the black and white rectangular tiles on the floor, white walls with a weathered look, exposed bricks that are painted in two tones, to the black ceiling fan and doors with striking blue frame. In keeping with the neighbourhood surroundings is the liberal use of black metal frames in the shop. Overall a very cosy and inviting place for a relaxing meal.
There are long common tables for communal dining. If you like your own space, there are long benches that skirt the walls with seating divided by individual tables and chairs. Alternatively, you can sit on the second level and be eye to eye with the barista and cook, or head up even further where you can get a bird’s eye view of the entire café.
All the food in the café is served in ceramic bowls, plates, cups and pots. The cups are extremely ergonomic, textured on the bottom for better grip and smooth at the top for aesthetics.
One of the special drinks that Mecca has to offer is their Oolong Apple Cider. What makes it even more surprising is that this is a hot drink, very unusual for an Apple Cider. The drink itself can only be described as a light brown liquid gold with sweet apple flavours from the Apple Cider, and an elegant floral note derived from the Oolong tea.
From an elegant tea to a filter coffee and Kenyan Kamwangi. It arrives with bold intensity and rich dark cherry flavours. Whereas I have been used to light filter coffees over the past week, this one from Mecca awakens the palate. The ceramic cups insulates the coffee and keeps every drop warm to the last sip.
A breakfast bowl of roasted cereal with yoghurt, seeds, nuts and dried seasonal fruit is delicious. The hero of the dish is the poached pear. It’s sweet, and the spoon slices through the flesh, like a warm knife through butter. Mixed in with the nuts, muesli and a dollop of the yoghurt, it makes this bowl spoon after spoon of the best way to start a day. A touch of passionfruit is tangy and its tropical flavours cut nicely through the yoghurt.
A popular breakfast dish at Mecca Espresso is their French Toast with peach passionfruit conserve, whey caramel, almonds and labneh. You can add fried ham for an extra $5. I would say live a little and go all the way with the side of fried ham.
The French toast itself is made from seeded sourdough. The ham comes in a nice generous serving. The labneh, which is a Greek yoghurt with a distinctive sour taste, contrasts nicely with the sweetness from the peach passionfruit conserve and whey caramel. The dish is also nicely peppered with sage leaves which works as a garnishing as well as additional herb flavouring.
An interesting dish to try from Mecca Espressos’ menu, is their chicken roll, comprising of fried free range chicken with kimchi and dill mayonnaise. The chicken is well marinated with an exotic Asian flavour and masterfully deep-fried to a deep dark brown colour on the outside, but is juicy and white on the inside. The kimchi is a nice subtle pickle that does not overpower and the dill mayonnaise gives the dish a perfect creamy sauce with an unusual pickle kick. A very appetising plate that is guaranteed to make you want to keep eating, and eating, til you have consumed every last morsel.
Besides its Nitro Brew, Mecca also has an ice latte on its cold coffee menu that is expertly done with the right proportion of milk and coffee, so that you can taste the coffee and enjoy the mellow flavours which are helped by the milk and ice. Definitely an easy coffee drink for someone who is not into strong coffees flavours.
To round out the morning is a cappuccino. The espresso blend is 33% Campos Altos from Brazil, 33% San Augustin from Colombia and 33% Yacuanquer from Colombia. A perfect coffee which yields milk chocolate and caramel flavours. Like the the perfectly crafted rosetta, the temperature is just right and so are the creamy textures.
Overall Mecca has definitely lived up to its area of expertise in coffee, but it has taken it up a notch up and established itself with good food as well to go with your cuppa.
If ever you have to send your car for repairs in Alexandria, you would never have to fret about not having a place for coffee or to hangout if you need to wait while your car is being worked on.