Until fairly recently, specialty coffee in Geelong was a rare entity. This was both a frustration and an opportunity for prospective café owner, Brad Anderson.
When Brad and his wife, Zoe, moved to Geelong, they bought with them a love for the vibrant Melbourne café scene which they had enjoyed most weekends. Catching up with friends over great coffee and food was a valued part of their lives ? and it looked less than available in their new home. So the obvious answer was to create the possibility for good food and great coffee themselves. A little less than a year ago, they opened the doors of their café ?Freckleduck? in the heart of Geelong?s CBD, bringing a much-needed shot of Melbourne-style specialty coffee and food to Victoria?s second city. Having delved into the name Freckleduck a little deeper (and been provided with the back story involving a mate?s hunting trips), plus having learned a little about an accidental mispronunciation that stuck, I can reveal that it essentially translates as meaning, ?A rare and special thing?. This is a fair summary of the café Brad now runs.
Freckleduck now occupies an enviable corner site in the central CBD, but initially it took some real vision to imagine the slick, light-filled café that came into being. Brad knew the position was amazing, but the ex-dress shop was somewhat lacking in character in its former incarnation. Thanks to some confident building initiatives however, a vision for Freckleduck did indeed emerge and the corner frontage became a key feature with its abundant windows. The interior has been cleverly designed to comfortably accommodate both customers and the busy kitchen. The fantastic end result is the product of blood, sweat and tears as Brad was still working full time in Melbourne while Freckleduck came together, renovating at night and weekends plus leaning on friends and family to get things across the line. But Brad enthuses that it’s certainly been worth it. Each morning, he walks into his own café, chats with regulars and provides people with great coffee and food. Sharing this space and this experience is what it’s all about.
Front and centre in the window is a 3 group Synesso supported by 2 Mazzer grinders rocking out some truly delicious Five Senses coffee. Freckleduck has fast built a reputation for serving some of the finest coffee in the city, with Geelong locals loving both the Crompton Road house blend and the rotating seasonal single origin offering. However, both head barista Rachael Anderson (no relation) and Brad admit that the single origin rotates infrequently when our Yirg Zero is in the house. Big fans of this coffee, along with their customers, they do an especially good job of serving this awesome Ethiopian coffee. I was lucky enough to enjoy the result in a vibrant, sweet fruit-driven long black on my last visit. Cold brew coffee has also had a great reception at Freckleduck, where it is served in a Vietnamese-inspired manner. Presented bottled next to an ice-filled glass on its own little board, the coup de grace is a beautiful little jug of sticky, sweet condensed milk. The intensity of each ingredient creates a delicious combination of sweet and bitter. Soon to be added to the coffee menu is a Clever Coffee Dripper-driven filter offering of Five Senses? rare, interesting and Freckleduck-like micro lot coffees.
Of course, a Melbourne-style specialty café is not complete without a creative and satisfying food menu and Freckleduck runs with this concept in Geelong. With head chef, Nathan Mitchell, manning the pans in the kitchen, Freckleduck offers excellent grab and go options in the front cabinet including a dude-food friendly beef cheek sandwich plus an extensive menu for those with time to sit and enjoy. The banana and fig bread is stacked high, served with espresso mascarpone, toasted walnuts and salted caramel. The ubiquitous avo smash is given the novel treatment of not really being smashed much at all! It is, however, served atop some delicious lime labneh, seeds and radish which, on rye toast, makes for a sharp, creamy savoury breakfast. Popular fritters are changed up with each seasonal menu; currently on offer is sweet potato served with hot smoked ocean trout. Brad says these are always a winner with customers in every incarnation. Unilever Chef of the Year finalist, Nathan, shows off his skills further with lunch options such as a Korean pork bagel and a carrot and kale salad. This last item is a great example of a menu which is better balanced between healthy and indulgent than most I?ve seen. Also on offer is the maple baked bacon which rides jalepeno corn bread on FR eggs. Whilst I know which direction my belly leads me, it is always nice to have the choice to be ?good?, right?
Whilst Freckleduck is no longer an isolated outpost of quality coffee in Geelong (which is currently enjoying a bit of a café and restaurant renaissance), it has certainly been a key player in eliminating the once annoying necessity of travelling to Melbourne to find a ?Melbourne style? café. By solving this problem for himself with Freckleduck, Brad has provided a solution for the whole of Geelong. Thanks mate!
131 Malop Street
Monday – Friday: 7am – 4pm
Saturday: 8am – 4pm
Sunday: 9am – 4pm
© Photos provided with permission by Emily Bartlett. All rights reserved by photographer