Cafe review | Benchmark | Michael Byrne

HEALTHY OUTLOOK: Barista Holli Zaria and Benchmark owner David Jordan outside Benchmark in Newcastle West. Photos: Simone De Peak
HEALTHY OUTLOOK: Barista Holli Zaria and Benchmark owner David Jordan outside Benchmark in Newcastle West. Photos: Simone De Peak

Benchmark, 6-8 Hall Street, Newcastle West, Mon-Fri 6:30am-2:30pm, Sat 7:30am-12noon, Sunday closed.

Ever overheard a barista talking to a regular customer while you stand there waiting for your coffee?

Amid the endless whir of the grinder and the crack of the group head against the knock box, you can often get a hint of what sort of staff you are depending on by listening to the wide-eyed bearded guy pushing all the buttons.

Is it the last morning of a six-day week?

Is the coffee pouring better than yesterday?

Are we excited or just over worked and exhausted?

Are we both?

Keep your ear to the ground, as they say, and you can always hear the stories in the soil.

Eavesdrop into Benchmark, in Newcastle West, and you can expect to hear a different kind of conversation.

You would think that owner, barista and head chef David Jordan might have enough on his hotplate already, but as I sit and wait for breakfast and a coffee in the sprightly freshness of this brand new health cafe, I begin to hear things that I’ve never heard a hospitality worker in Newcastle say before.

He may be neighbours with a cross-fit gym sweating it out next door, but did David just tell a regular that he was doing a weights session and a fitness test after his shift this afternoon?

Everything becomes clearer to me the moment my breakfast arrives.

If this is the sort of sustenance that this barista seeks out, there is little wonder he has the energy to tackle a session on a weights bench after eight hours at a coffee machine.

Those of you who are yet to delight in the guiltless pleasure of an acai bowl should probably get started by trying one that looks and tastes exactly like the ones served up at Benchmark.

These sweet and colourfully textured creations can be found in a growing number of cafes in Newcastle these days but David sets a whole new standard with his organic Amazon acai power bowl ($14).

TOP THAT: Sweet potato bread with tasty extras. Coffee with that?

TOP THAT: Sweet potato bread with tasty extras. Coffee with that?

Granola, blueberries, apple and banana are arranged in a delectable circle atop a bed of crushed and crimson acai berry.

For those who prefer something savoury, his thickly sliced sweet potato toast is a vegan feast of cashews and avocado crowned with a violet tumble of organic seeds and sauerkraut ($15).

An Uptown Funk blend roasted by local outfit Josie Coffee means the beverages at Benchmark are all about strength and body as well.

A trio of Ethiopian, Brazilian and Mexican beans has a distinctly fruity finish that is as popular with the cross fitness crew next door as it is with the office crowd across the road.

If a visit to the gym has left you with a drier thirst, a small ($4), a large ($5), or a take home 10 serve bottle of cold brew ($15) is also available.