Whatever the season, coffee is always on Melbourne’s collective mind. It’s the Australian caffeine capital that’s known as much for its lattes as it is for its (uncooperative) weather. Here are 10 of the best cafés to get your fix of the blessed bean.
St Ali has spawned countless café offshoots but the South Melbourne original – opened way back in 2005 in a cool warehouse tucked down a tiny laneway – remains the best. Head barista Matt Perger is the king of coffee nerds with the global awards to show it, and you can take a bag of house-roasted beans to go.
12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
Whether you swing Brazilian single-origin, Kenyan siphon, or the nitrogen-infused cold brew on tap, the coffee at Proud Mary keeps the crowds spilling out the door of this backstreet Collingwood hipster magnet. Their roastery is a two-minute walk away, and they’re happy for you to take a look at where the ethically caffeinated magic happens.
172 Oxford Street, Collingwood (Aunty Peg’s and roastery at 200 Wellington Street)
This is a hip, internationally awarded warehouse conversion including a boutique roastery and a shop packed full of coffee accoutrement you never knew you needed, such as a filter-brewing starter kit or a gold mesh filter. Coffee also infiltrates the menu on dishes such as coffee caviar with the cinnamon-dusted brioche, and coffee-rubbed wagyu burger.
3/62 Rose Street, Fitzroy
Brother Baba Budan
Named after a 16th-century Sufi who (allegedly) brought coffee to India, BBB is a CBD offshoot from the all-conquering Seven Seeds empire. Expect an eclectic interior with a forest of wooden chairs sprouting from the ceiling and an obsessive focus on coffee, with an ever-changing menu of blends and cold drips.
359 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
The mothership of Mark Dundon’s coffee empire, this Carlton warehouse multitasks as a roastery, café and retailer with a focus on single-origin, seasonal and ethical coffee. Head down at 9am on a Tuesday for cupping demonstration (a $4 donation goes to homeless charity Street Smart), but make sure to arrive about 30 minutes early to secure a spot.
114 Berkeley Street, Carlton
Hash Specialty Coffee
Look for the hash – literally a # – which is all the signage offered at this Hardware Lane coffee hotspot. The brunch options are great (hello, maple-glazed bacon) and the single-origin beans change every couple of weeks. But wait, there’s more: their hot chocolate consists of a beaker of molten loveliness poured over a base of fairy floss. Respect.
11 Hardware Street, Melbourne
You won’t find soy milk at Fleur Studd’s five-strong Market Lane empire. You won’t find skim milk or decaf, either. The policy says a whole lot about the exacting standards of this specialty café and coffee roaster, where everything can be traced back to a single origin (unlike that soy milk).
Shop 13, Prahran Market, 163 Commercial Road, South Yarra (also CBD, Carlton and Queen Victoria Market)
Wide Open Road
Any place with a designated Director of Coffee had better know its stuff, and the original Brunswick hotspot with a roastery out back goes the poetic route with its pour over, batch-brew, cold-brew and espresso blends (the long-running house blend, Bathysphere, has a “delicate caramel and dark chocolate sweetness with a complex fruit finish”).
274 Barkly Street, Brunswick
Hawthorn may have come late to the specialty-coffee party, but when it did it arrived with bells and whistles. Opened and run by three-time Australian barista Champion Dave Makin and his roaster wife Zoe Delany, Axil combines a slick-tastic warehouse space with a roastery, cupping room and a team of crack baristas.
322 Burwood Road, Hawthorn (also CBD and Chadstone Shopping Centre)
Patricia Coffee Brewers
This weekday-only operation is neat, sweet and petite – in fact, it’s so small it’s standing room only. Head along for a decidedly European vibe and a coffee menu that makes up for its brevity – will it be black, white or filter? – with the integrity of a rotating roster of specialty beans.
493-495 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Top image: Axil