King St Depot, 1/12 King St, Warners Bay, Mon-Fri 6:30am-2:30pm, Sat 7am-1pm, Sun 7am-12 noon.
Making vast numbers of coffee a day can be demanding and repetitive. It might just be a coffee machine, but sometimes it feels like a much taller stainless steel wall separating you from the growing number of customers waiting on the other side. Behind that barrier, obscured by jet clouds of steam, so many busy baristas keep their heads down and their hands busy. They want to talk to you and they do remember your name. But in their slightly panicked, hyper-caffeinated realities, every one of their customers is late for work today because their barista is just too slow.
These were some of my thoughts as I sat with my coffee at King St Depot in Warners Bay, last week. Normally I would be thinking only about the contents of the cup and whether my nervous system could accommodate three more of these espressos. Yet somehow, sitting cosily in the sunshine in this little café on the corner, I already felt satisfied and accommodated. Was it just the coffee? My double shot latte was rich, smooth and skilfully made in what seemed like a minute. Only I have had several coffees as good as this before and still felt flatter than I do today. What had just happened to me? Why did I suddenly feel so different?
The answer had in fact been offered to me before I had even found my seat. There was the barista, wearing a megawatt smile and even brighter red tennis shorts, beaming out to me a wide-eyed welcome that made me feel like I had made a whole new family. There were still customers waiting while checking their wristwatches. Only Dani was doing something completely different. Her head was held high. Her eyes were always on the customers and her mind entangled in an endless string of friendly conversations. There were no stainless steel barriers in here. No panic. Just a loyal table of customers being treated like they were relatives and, if the hearty breakfast plates are anything to go by, fed like family members too.
When Dani tells me that her coffee supply is the product of a long-standing relationship with the Genovese roasting house it makes perfect sense. After nearly six years at Warners Bay and several more pouring their coffee in Sydney, this café owner knows her beans almost as well as her customers. Which is why when I ask her about the blend she lists its qualities as though describing a treasured friend. A bit fruity. Well balanced.
Consistently sweet and always at the King St Depot, seven days a week.