Penny Farthing, owned by brothers Steve and Trevor Simmons, can be found in an unassuming shopfront on High Street in Northcote. As could be expected, a penny farthing bicycle dominates the dÃ©cor inside, along with a large communal table which provides much of the indoor seating. Thereâ€™s more indoor space out the back, as well as an appealing little courtyard complete with outdoor heaters.
I was seated at the communal table where I trundled through the newspapers and enjoyed eavesdropping on snippets of other peopleâ€™s conversations. The crowd was an interesting mixture of North side trendies, middle aged couples and people with small children (and monster sized prams).
All the staff were fabulously dressed, looking as if they had stepped straight off their fixie and into the cafÃ©. They were all friendly and attentive and despite the fact that the cafe was very busy, it wasnâ€™t difficult to get a menu and my order was taken promptly.
I knew I was really going to love Penny Farthing when one of the waitresses noticed I was reading Marieke Hardyâ€™s book and engaged me in a conversation about her. As I was there on my own, it was really lovely to have this sort of extended interaction with the wait staff. And then my coffee arrived.
What can I say to adequately describe the deliciousness of this coffee? The only suitable word isâ€¦spectacular. I had to stop myself at 2 lattes, for fear of spending the rest of the day in a caffeine induced coma. The â€œvintage blendâ€ is created in-house using beans from Sumatra, PNG, Columbia, Guatemala and Brazil. The barista informed me that the Simmons brothers have tried to create a blend that goes well with milk. For black coffees, they tend to use one of their single origins instead. On the day I visited, two limited release single origins were also on offer; from India and Costa Rica.
Itâ€™s clear that Penny Farthingâ€™s primary focus is on coffee. Industry Beans are available to take home in 250 gram, 500 gram & 1kg bags, either whole bean or ground. The food was also excellent. The menu contains mostly breakfast items, several sandwiches and daily specials (including soup). I chose the â€œSmashâ€; Danish feta and avocado on Dench sourdough with basil and mint, with olive oil and chilli on the side. This was a completely fabulous dish; simple and delicious.
There is no doubt that Penny Farthing Espresso is a favourite with Northcote locals. And even if youâ€™re not a local, trust me, it is well worth a trip across town.