Chain restaurants don’t usually do it for us. We tend to find them a bit impersonal, or uninteresting, or both. But, the recently launched Legian beachfront branch of The Coffee Club might have changed our minds about that.
Outside of the airport, it’s the first Bali outlet of the international café empire originating from Australia. The Coffee Club story goes back to 1989 when a pair of city boys struggled to appease a late-night coffee fix in Brisbane. Happily for them, it was a letdown that led to them opening the first of what was to become a global network of coffee shops — 400 stores across Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, The Maldives, and now, Indonesia.
Coconuts Bali was recently invited to check out the new place, which is slap-bang in the middle of Legian beach road, a stretch where it’s not uncommon to see middle-aged holidaymakers taking a morning stroll with a Bintang in hand.
On arrival, we were faced with the conundrum of choosing between “sunny alfresco” or “less idyllic, but air-conditioned” dining areas, and made a beeline for the latter on account of the day’s particularly sticky Bali weather. Concrete-finished walls and wrap-around windows give the place a slightly industrial feel, though it’s all softened up with tropical plants and a mishmash of patterned cushions.
First of all, a word on their coffee. Ryan, the Manchurian manager, tells us that they source their beans from Expat. Roasters, the Bali roastery started up by an award-winning Aussie barista, Shae Macnamara. Our flat white (IDR35,000/US$2.45) came out with the glossy, marbled finish of a well-made cup, and the milk was just right — not overheated, as is the sad fate of many a commercial brew.
Brunch-wise, the offerings are pretty extensive. Pancake stacks, healthy(ish) salads, full English brekkies, burgers, and Thai-inspired plates all feature, and Ryan tells us they’re planning on adding Balinese signatures soon, too.
Curious to find out whether the dish would live up to the picture on the menu, we started off with the poached eggs, wok-fried greens, red quinoa and sesame dressing (IDR 110,000/US$7.78). First off, they nailed the crunchy-to-soft ratio. Cooked al dente, the wok’d broccoli and French beans added freshness, and the nutty tahini sauce an inexplicable yumminess. It was one of those rare brunching moments when flavor, texture, and novelty combined in a nutritious, non-starchy dish. We can see why it’s their signature.
Also on the menu: the power bowl (IDR120,000/US$8.50) with edamame, pumpkin, beetroot, quinoa, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and spinach. It’s the kind of thing a svelte yogi would order. And while elements of it — like the roasted cauliflower and balsamic-roasted beets — were great, the rest could do with a bit more love (or dressing).
For dessert, we tried The Coffee Club’s blueberry pancake stack (IDR120,000/US$8.50). It’s a formidable heap of three American-style pancakes smothered in the most saccharine fruit syrup, but wow, is it moreish. Though, how one person could get through such a gargantuan mound of sweetened carbs without keeling over from the sugar rush is beyond us.
We also found out that patrons with kids get free access to a supervised soft play area at the Anantara Vacation Club next door. Another plus for the parents among us.
All in all, we found ourselves pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed our time at The Coffee Club. Yes, it lacks the charm or quirkiness of an independent local coffee shop, but we’re able to see how it’s become a globally successful chain.
The Coffee Club is at Jl. Pantai Arjuna No.18, Legian
Open: 6am—11pm, daily
Phone: (0361) 763444