Once you step foot in Melbourne, there’s no denying the boisterous call of coffee beans churning through grinders and the thunderous swish of milk frothing at the hands of devoted baristas. This is a city that runs on the sweet buzz of caffeine and the hum of atmospheric cafe culture. It is, after all, the coffee capital of Australia. But with so many wholesome dark brews so conspicuously tempting at every turn, the question begs to be asked: who does it best? Find out what our favourite foodies have to say on the matter.
Address: 176 Faraday Street, Carlton.
If Karen Martini had to pick just one spot to grab a coffee, she knows exactly where. “Market Lane Coffee in Carlton is a stand-out, from their single origins to their blends,” she says. “Fleur Studd and Jason Scheltus at the café are passionate, one-eyed coffee people. They don’t serve tea or hot chocolate, just coffee!” The focus is always on high-quality coffee with beans selectively sourced from across the world. A fabulous little pop-up coffee shop, it’s located right next door to Baker D. Chirico, the place to pick up incredible bakery bites as a side. To delve deeper into the psyche of Market Lane Coffee, head to the roaster and retail store at Prahran, or catch a hands-on brewing class, cupping session or roasting course in a number of locations to learn the ins and outs of amazing coffee.
Address: 80 Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD.
Grossi Florentino is well known for its wonderfully authentic Italian flavours, from the fancy fine-dining upstairs to the more casual grill downstairs and the historic cellar bar, where premium wines, classic Italian meals and strong coffees flow out onto the atmospheric and leafy al fresco setting on the historic pavement outside. For Luke Mangan, the cellar bar is “one of the most fantastic spots for coffee”. “Every time I’m in Melbourne I go there and I feel like I could be anywhere in Europe,” he says. In true Italian fashion, there’s a fabulous range of sweets to complement the barista-perfected brews, from crunchy bites of biscotti to rich slathers of delectable cheesecake. The warm European welcomes in a range of European accents make it all go down even smoother.
Address: 114 Berkeley Street, Carlton.
Andrew McConnell says Seven Seeds in Carlton is “great”. “They import their own organic free-trade beans, roast them and handle the coffee from start to finish on the premises,” he says. “I think that Mark Dundon who owns and runs it is one of the people who helped put Melbourne coffee on the map. The café has great baristas and it’s in a great old converted factory that has a very Melbourne vibe.” As well as the state-of-the-art roasting facility, retail counter and spacious cafe, which touts a small but tasty menu, Seven Seeds has a dedicated room where public cuppings are held at no cost every single week. It’s the perfect opportunity to try tasting and scoring a tempting line-up of coffees side by side, just like the pros.
Address: 658 Church Street, Richmond.
For Shannon Bennet, Top Paddock is his go-to spot for coffee. “It has a great set up and baristas who produce consistently great coffee under extreme pressure because it’s a really busy place,” he says. “They use Five Senses coffee but they are heavily involved in the way the beans are roasted and blended. They also showcase coffee at a specialised coffee bar so you can have coffee different ways – single origin, filtered – and you always go in and learn something about coffee.” A relatively new yet hugely successful cafe, the team behind Top Paddock are the same mob of coffee-loving devotees that started the also fabulous Two Birds One Stone cafe. Decked out in timber and white tiles whilst also beautifully airy and green, their latest venture also poses a great all day menu of food that’s consistently good and inventive.
Address: 172 Oxford Street, Collingwood.
Along with Top Paddock, Seven Seeds and Two Birds One Stone, George Colombaris rates the caffeinated happiness on offer at the funky and slick Proud Mary. “All of those places absolutely adore and are just so passionate about something as simple as a coffee bean: where it comes from, how it’s processed and how it’s made,” he says. “And think that’s wonderful.” He says: “Proud Mary, for example, source their own beans and do their own roasting, which is fantastic.” With a variety of their own blends and single origins, they also ship their delicious goods the day after roasting to those in search of a good brew from afar. A seat in the cafe itself, with exposed brick walls and polished cement floors is however the best way to enjoy it, along with a pick from the expansive all day breakfast menu.
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Interviews for this article conducted by Tourism Australia.