In Short: Caffeine Villains Espresso Bar is a little gem of a cafe in Newport. A husband and wife team who draw on their Italian and Philippine heritage to inject a bit of Asia and the Mediterranean into each dish. Coffee is handled expertly. Friendly faces and a relaxed space just across the road from the beach.
Most Sundays some or all of the Coco and Vine team will inevitably make a visit to the northern beaches. All four of us have at one point or another called the peninsular home, and there’s an undeniable magnetism of the relaxed vibe, and it’s the different characteristics of each of the beaches that draws us back so often. While Manly and Dee Why attract the crowds, we prefer to cruise further north along the peninsular and drop into cafes featuring exciting food and embracing new coffee techniques like Drip Coffee Traders in Collaroy, and now Caffeine Villains Espresso Bar in Newport.
Caffeine Villains opened in October 2017. While it’s new, the face behind counter isn’t new to us. We first met co-owner Alberto Fuerte at Cavalier Espresso last year, and I still recall the sublime pour over he served as at our table. It’s an experience that has stuck with me. He brings his coffee expertise to Newport and his partner and wife Barbara is in the kitchen creating the delicious dishes we sampled on our visit.
Caffeine Villains is just a stones throw from Newport Beach. It does not have street frontage, but as you make your way through the outdoor arcade, you’re met with an open space to while away the hours with the scent of the ocean competing with the aromas coming from the kitchen.
Alberto brings the same level of work ethic in the creation of his coffees at Caffeine Villains. It’s exciting to hear that he’s chosen to go with St Ali. It’s one of the first stops in any expedition down to Melbourne, even if it’s just a 5 minute stop for a cheeky flat white. Alberto has gone with the Orthodox blend which results in a flat white that starts off with a hint of spice and finishes off with a dark chocolate flavour. I really enjoy the balance and structure of the coffee and it’s a pleasure consuming every last drop.
First dish to roll out of the kitchen is the CV Benny featuring pulled pork adobo, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and sweetened bread. It’s a dish that is just amazingly enticing in its presentation. The method of cooking the pork draws on Alberto’s Filipino heritage. Adobo is the quintessential Philippine dish. Caffeine Villain’s take on it reveals the rich flavours of the pork that’s stewed in soy sauce and vinegar. There’s flavours that are sweet, salty, acidic and smoky. As you can see by the photo, the meat was tender as a good pulled pork should be. That’s just the pork! Then there’s the perfectly poached eggs, that’s elevated by the richness of the hollandaise sauce. Mixed leaves leave a lasting freshness. To say it was just delicious is an understatement.
I could see on our visit, that fellow Coco and Viner Mavis was in the mood for a burger. Me though, I think any visit to a restaurant has Mavis scanning the word burger on the menu first and foremost. Caffeine Villain comes through with a double cheese burger. Housed between the milk buns are double beef patties, bacon, cheese, pickles, onions, tomato sauce and mustard. The patties are hand made in the kitchen by Barbara as is almost everything on the menu. The beef patties are perfectly cooked through, lightly charred on the outside and moist and juicy inside. Combined with the smoky flavours of bacon, and partnered with melting cheese, pickles, caramelised onions and tomato sauce it makes for easy consumption, and every bite is just so comforting. Food was outstanding, with both dishes delivering on presentation, and more importantly delivering on taste and flavour.
While we were reflecting on our amazing lunch, out rolled a Katsu Burger. We let out a collective groan. It looked amazing with its charcoal bun and chunky katsu chicken. In unison and in stereo, we declared that we were coming back to Caffeine Villains because we had unfinished business. Check back soon on this post as we tell you about the Katsu Burger and have Alberto deliver a pour over masterclass.