Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Lowdown Highlights

Well, I may not be the best coffee blogger to discover Lowdown, nor will I be the one to take the best photos or write the most descriptive prose, but I know one thing - I am the first coffee blogger to discover this inner city treat.

I noticed it during the fit-out as I walked through the arcade to a meeting and peered several times through the shutters to watch what was going on. One of the first things that I noticed was the presence of a very unique item in a Perth cafe - a Fetco CBS 2021, a temperature calibrated coffee brewer. In a city full of espresso machines this thing appears to be unique.

Actually it seems as though some of the frenetic pace of perth coffee has altered of late and a number of cafes have expanded beyond espresso in their coffee offerings. This is great in my opinion as it allows other aspects of coffee to be explored and will actually contribute to improving espresso through a better understanding of coffee generally.

Back to Lowdown though:

Lowdown is a new addition in Cloisters Arcade and exemplifies the broader acceptance of 'other than espresso'. Offering a house blend from Fiori and a changing single origin, Lowdown is one of the first (if not actually the first) contemporary Perth cafe to offer brewed coffee which they are serving as long black coffees, as a chilled black brew and as the base for their iced coffee.

Owned by Sarah, Claire, Mark and Adam Lowes the cafe is a family business (can you tell that Mark and Adam are brothers? Mark is married to Sarah and Adam to Claire keeping the whole arrangement very neat indeed and providing plenty of help to manage the business.

I had already eaten breakfast but the food was very tempting and almost everything there is made by Sarah including some fantastic looking Hungarian offerings such as the Hungarian cherry cake.

My coffee tally hit four with two long blacks, a ristretto, a chilled long black to which I added an extra treat from another innovation they have introduced - half and half milk. That is, half milk and half cream in a chiller jug that you can pour yourself. They also make milk available in a similar jug and it was great being able to tweak the coffee by adding the milk/cream combination little my little as I drank the coffee to alter the experience.

The coffee from the Fetco was very clean and quite reminiscent of to body obtained from a clover. It was one of the best bodied filter coffees I have had for some time and it certainly highlighted to fruit driven PNG Kimel peaberries.

The ristretto was a delight and brought out the unique characteristics of their custom Fiori blend with caramel, berry and stonefruit apparent as it cooled.

Today was their very first day trading and already they had attracted lots of passing trade who were likewise intrigued by the Fetco. From its Edison reproduction light globes to its warm timber fittings, Lowdown is a very comforting addition to the arcade.

For those wanting a full experience of the new venue, Fiori have arranged two 1 hour coffee appreciation sessions at Lowdown where participants will be tasting three specialty coffees including the Monkey picked coffee. These are this Friday (9 April - with maybe one place remaining if you are lucky) and next Friday 16 April where there are several spots still available.

All funds raised will be donated to Be Kids Australia. The cost to attend is $15 and bookings are essential. These can be made by emailing Louise at

Lowdown on Urbanspoon

Who: Lowdown
What: Great Coffee - with the added brewer bonus and very nice food on offer
Where: Shop 16A Cloisters Arcade, 865 Hay Street Perth (access also via St Georges Terrace)
Hours: From 7 am to 5pm (yay - coffee after meetings that finish at 4pm!).
Contact: Website, Email or (08) 9226 3041
When: 7 April 2010
Accessibility: Excellent - no issues with floor levels and counters and lighting and noise levels were acceptable.


  1. Wow, you must have been buzzing today on 4 coffees! I love the picture of your coffee glistening under the light - it has a very nice body. Mentioning the Kimmel Peaberry has made me crave for more! I polished off my last bag a few weeks ago (hmmm....I sound like a drug dealer).

    Lowdown looks like a fantastic venue, and a place I'm looking forward to going to on Friday.

    Good post Michael. Coffee meetings for the win!

  2. Looking forward to trying this place out.
    Can you really classify that monkey spit/crap/picked as specialty coffee? More like shameless marketing to me but at least its going to a good cause.

  3. I suppose there are two ways at looking at the Monkey Spit coffee - one is that yes, there is gimmick involved, but considering that the farmers used to shoot the monkeys for raiding the plantation and now welcome them as 'value adding' I think there was a win for the Monkeys at least.

    Second, I think there may be a way to objectively test the coffee beside similar offerings from the same estate and determine if it has unique positive characteristics that would allow one to consider it a 'specialty' coffee. This has not (to my knowledge) been done yet and it would be an interesting exercise.

    A side note to this is that rhesus monkeys have better scotopic (low light) visual acuity than humans so that in the environment of a coffee plantation they are able see the ripe berries better than you or I can, and thus select the ripest berries. I am not sure that other species of coffeenovores are able to make the same level of visual distinction as the Rhesus Macaque. It is possible on this basis that the beans that end up being spat onto the forest floor to 'monsoon' are a a very good grading of coffee from what are some quite good Indian estates.

    At some point I guess the discussion would have to move to how we define 'specialty' coffee - worth a look I think.

    In that vein I have also been considering how 'Single Origin' is best defined and I need to go do some research on how it is officially described as I saw a Gloria Jeans offering 'Single Origin Ethiopian' and began to wonder just how narrow a geographical region it needs to be for a coffee to be described as a single origin coffee - Ethiopia is pretty big after all!