Well, this post has a bit of history behind it. I may or may not work somewhere in an office near Dukes on Flinders Lane, in the CBD. So, for quite some time now, I’ve been going to Dukes off and on, because my colleagues really seem to like it.
When you walk in, the first thing you notice is that it’s busy. Always. This is a good thing, right? When choosing restaurants, for years I’ve used the heuristic that given two otherwise identical restaurants, you should pick the busier one. Or the one with locals in it. Maybe that’s the key here. Maybe it’s just tourists.
Anyway, so we’ve established Dukes is always busy. Sometimes there’s even a queue outside, and ever since a fateful incident in France I pretty much decided I wouldn’t stand in a queue for any eating establishment ever again. But their décor is so clean and industrial-like, and they have all these fancy machines and a frequently-rotating single origin and stuff like that. They must be amazing. Right?
They’re clearly very good at what they do. They’re always super friendly (this has to be said – I wouldn’t ever want to go on record bashing friendly people doing their job well) and are obviously professionals. But at the end of the day, after many many times trying very hard to like their espresso, I’m afraid it’s just not for me. Even the house blend is just.. so sour. A coffee connoisseur would probably say something with a flourish, like “lively acidity and natural sweetness, finishing with notes of red apple…” but you know what, I have learned to read that as code for super sour slap in the face. Sour, and otherwise mainly tasteless. I feel less bad having my outlier opinion, because pretty much everyone else seems enamoured with them. They’ll be fine. Incidentally, I’m rather disappointed at how badly TripAdvisor renders on Internet Explorer version 4.
This is the first post I’m writing here that actually might give an idea as to why this blog is called what it’s called. It’s nothing personal. I’m not trying to be a fancy critic. I’m explicitly not even saying what they do is objectively bad – it probably isn’t. This just isn’t what I’m looking for in an espresso. And, if you happen to like coffee the way I do, then you’re who I’m hoping to guide to tastier venues. And there are so many of those, there really is no need to keep following colleagues to un-tasty spots.
Maybe that’s the life lesson for me there. There must be a pithy message in there somewhere about casting off the yoke we allow to be put onto our shoulders by the social pressures of those around us, perhaps even unconsciously. Perhaps something about ending up under a bus tomorrow, and having wasted your last coffee just drinking what your colleagues drink, instead of striking out on your own, perhaps facing hardship, but having that amazing feeling of finding the espresso that’s right for you. I don’t even know if I’m talking about coffee anymore.
Verdict: unfortunately, for me, this coffee sucks. One cup out of five.