Tree of quality

Tree of quality

All rounder: Rachel Kim of One Tree Espresso at Charlestown Square, Charlestown. Picture: Jonathan CarrollOne Tree Coffee, Shop 201, Level 2, Charlestown Square, Mon-Wed: 8am-5pm, Thu: 8am-8pm, Fri-Sat: 8am-5pm, Sun: 9am-4pm.

With so many of us exhausting ourselves at our nearest and largest shopping centres at this time of year, it is an enduring oddity that so few of these house quality coffee outlets. Most of the espresso available in these enormous malls comes from franchises that are more about speed and convenience than a memorable cup of distinctive flavours. Whilst they might call your order a double shot latte, it rarely tastes anything like what your local barista pours you around the corner.

One Tree Espresso at Charlestown Square prides itself on being an exception to this rule. There may be nothing artisanal or trendy about the appearance of this café but the coffee and the food proves that there doesn’t need to be. Order a double shot here and you can expect to see latte art that would prompt at least a few Newcastle baristas to rush back to work and clean out their steam wands.

Underneath the perfect rosetta pattern on my flat white ($4) was a smooth and richly textured coffee brimming with subtle caramel flavours.

If you’re chasing a quicker hit with a short black ($3.50) their single origin this month hails from Guatemala and is concentrated with every sharp and citric flavour you would want from a mildly roasted espresso.

If your tastes sit at the sweeter end of the coffee spectrum, they even blend their mochas ($5) with a special Lindt milk chocolate that is every bit as memorable as the rest of the beverage selection.

Unlike almost all of their nearby coffee competitors, One Tree offers a refreshing cold brew ($5.50) that goes down a treat over the summer months. If you are still unfamiliar with this fashionable method of making, it basically involves leaving coarsely ground coffee in cold water over a period of at least 12 hours so that the more bitter, espresso-like flavours can mellow themselves out. The single origin cold brew at One Tree is one of the better ones I have tasted. Left to brew for at least 14hours using the widely loved Toddy brewing system, theirs is a smooth and thirst-quenching coffee delight.

From the kitchen comes even more delicious surprises. Their famous Guinea toastie ($10) is layered with blackened chicken, pecorino and fresco cheeses, a corn salsa and a sriracha aioli. The Penny ($10) is packed with double smoked ham, cheddar, rocket, mustard and a tomato chilli jam. The vegetarian Herbie ($9) that I sampled comes with stacks of seasoned pumpkin, grilled haloumi, chilli jam and rocket. Even with a small army of hungry Christmas shoppers seated at their tables, it arrived almost as quickly as my coffee and was just as satisfying.

Quick, convenient and of a better quality than at least a couple of the cafés around my nearest corner.