It’s no wonder Melbourne is well known for its delicious coffee. There are so many good cafés in the city—cosy little spots hidden in back lanes that are worth seeking out. Cool designer joints, hip and happening places and rustic industrial cafés all contribute to a world-class caffeine scene.
St Ali in South Melbourne was one of the early pioneers in the coffee revolution. Later, Seven Seeds in Carlton, Market Lane in Prahran and Auction Rooms in North Melbourne raised the bar with their speciality brews.
Nothing beats the warm, toasty aroma of beans being roasted on the premises. Some of the bigger places have moved their roasters off-site but you can still visit these buzzy character-filled cafés with micro-roasting machines.
Industry Beans is an attractive warehouse café behind Fitzroy’s hipster Brunswick Street. You know you’re in the right place when you see the leafy courtyard out front—perfect on a warm day. Inside, polished concrete floors, functional décor and sacks of beans stacked on palettes create an industrial feel.
The roaster down the back is where some of the city’s best seasonal blends are created. Coffee geeks will enjoy the detailed coffee menu, which offers espresso and filter options. Staff are keen to help you choose your brew. The food’s pretty good too. If you’re really into your beans, the coffee-rubbed wagyu burger is hard to resist. The street art and The Rose Street Artists' Market—open on weekends—are another reason to visit.
Monk Bodhi Dharma
What could be more Melbourne than a warehouse café hidden down a lane behind a car park? It takes a bit of searching but once you find Monk Bodhi Dharma you’ll keep coming back. A former bake house was transformed into a snug café with exposed beams, distressed walls and hanging lights. Seating is tight with a bench counter, a few little tables and a big hunky communal, one with stools.
The small roaster and coffee machines take centre stage—and the mix of coffee and food aromas is a heady one. The food’s so good here you forget it’s vegetarian (vegan options too). Visit off-peak to avoid queues. Balaclava’s Carlisle Street, with its great cafés, offers an insight into Melbourne’s Jewish community.
For feel-good coffee that’s also a top brew, visit STREAT social enterprise café in Collingwood. The building has shaken off its past as a brothel and pub—now it’s home to STREAT’s coffee roastery, bakery and café, which all overlook a lovely leafy courtyard garden. STREAT brews its own Social blend, single origin and batch brews. Breakfast options are rather special here and include quark cheese fritters, son-in-law eggs and haloumi beet hash.
The $AUD 6.5 million project means STREAT now trains 365 young homeless and disadvantaged people each year. This laid-back destination café is definitely worth making the effort to visit.
This stylish, spacious Hawthorn café is the home of the Axil coffee empire, founded by Dave Makin and Zoe Delany. They roast all sorts of delicious brews in the roasting and cupping room behind the glass window. This is a serious eatery with vegetarians and gluten-free visitors well-catered for.
Breakfast includes dark chocolate waffles with peanut butter parfait; zucchini, corn and haloumi fritters and coffee-cured kingfish with poached eggs. Coffees are top class as are the chai lattes and Larsen & Thompson teas.
Looking fresh after a recent revamp, Roasting Warehouse is one of several top eateries in inner-city North Melbourne. The new-look café has polished floors, blue tiles, white brick walls, an attractive communal table and a couple of trendy Slayer coffee machines. The tall black roaster and coffee sacks add to the atmosphere.
Coffee fans will be thrilled with the choice of espresso and filter coffee including cold drip, pour over, batch brew and French press. The food is a real star here with innovative dishes such as crab and miso omelette.