One of my favourite things about working in the corporate world was going for coffee with my colleagues. Don’t get me wrong, we worked long hours and delivered a helluva lot, but taking time out together is still a really important part of being a team.
Now that I am my own team of one, I take myself out for coffee in the morning. The same rules apply . . . talk of what happened on the weekend, what’s on for the day, something to be proud of, some help needed. Only now, I have that chat with myself. Does that sound mad? Maybe . . .
This morning’s coffee was at Fleetwood Macchiato, on Erskineville Road.
The cafe’s pun name lured me in, Bowie and his China Girl made me feel at home.
It’s busy here, even on a Tuesday morning. I find a perch – one of four stools gathered under a floating shelf. From here I can see it all. The barista and her machine in constant motion. Tara Byrne, the owner, winding food and drink between Melamine tabletops and vinyl chairs, her Irish lilt still audible over the clank of cutlery. A little girl dances along the floorboards which run perpendicular to the bar, before settling down to a babycino and a few pages of ‘See Spot Run’. A dreadlocked dog pokes his head in the door, to be pulled away by his man-bunned owner. It is hipster-central here, but there’s nothing pretentious about this place.
I pour myself some water from a recycled long neck beer bottle, into a glass made from a wine bottle (the punt in the base giving the clue to its former life).
Coffee comes in a mug – and you have the choice of white, black and espresso. Byrne didn’t correct me when I ordered a latte, and I didn’t quibble when I got the coffee in a mug. No room for pettiness here. If it were a hot day I could order one of the house-made sodas: rhubarb and ginger shrub, lime, cola, ruby grapefruit, lemon verbena and blackcurrant. As it is, the roast they use for the coffee warms me like an Irish whiskey after an hour tramping across the moors.
The all-day menu is tempting with winter warmers like a sandwich of house-smoked beef brisket, cheddar, Chinese cabbage and pickled watermelon. Vegans are treated like first-class citizens with an avocado toast that would have Bernard Salt handing over his cash for a taste of the mint, parsley, lemon, smoked chipotle oil and nori trimmings. On their website, they say ‘Example menu only (but pretty close)’. I like this place, it’s just no fuss.
In my new incarnation as a full-time freelancer, I have my team meeting for one. I plan the day ahead, knock back the coffee, sling my backpack over my shoulder and head to the refuge of my writing den.