Specialty Coffee Guide: Melbourne
Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to travel to the beautiful land down under, spending an amazing two weeks in Melbourne, the city once voted for having the best coffee in the world. While there, we visited a range of cafes and had the chance to sample a number of delectable coffees. The following is a short guide of some of our favourite coffee establishments in the city.
ACOFFEE is a boutique roastery and cafe located on Sackville St in the neighbourhood of Collingwood. Residing in a converted warehouse, its unexpectedly bright and white interior hits you the moment you step inside. Designed and renovated by the owners themselves, Byoung-Woo Kang, Joshua Crasti, Frankie Tan, Nick Chen and Clay Tobin, ACOFFEE is stunningly clean, crisp and welcoming - qualities that can also be found in their coffee. The establishment favours a light approach to roasting their beans, producing coffee that is subtle and bright. This process takes place in-house in the roastery located at the back of the warehouse.
Formerly a barista in ST ALi as well as a roaster at Market Lane Coffee, co-owner Kang is Australia’s 2014 Cup Tasting Champion. In 2016, he first established ACOFFEE as a wholesale coffee roaster, supplying beans to cafes such as 580 Bench and Slater St. Bench. A year later, in a collaborative effort with the team from Bench, the cafe of ACOFFEE opened as we know it today.
While here, we enjoyed all three selections of filter coffee available for the day, brews of Ethiopian, Kenyan and Colombian origin. All three were exceptionally clean and comforting to drink, especially amidst the aroma of freshly roasted beans from the back of the house. A small array of pastries from Cobb Lane Bakery is also available should you wish for something sweet to pair with your coffee.
30 Sackville St, Collingwood VIC 3066
Mon – Fri 7am - 4pm, Sat 8am - 4pm, Closed on Sundays
ST ALi Coffee Roasters
Since opening in 2003, ST ALi Coffee Roasters has paved its way as one of Melbourne’s leaders in specialty coffee, rightfully establishing itself as not simply a roastery and cafe but an enduring coffee institution.
Stepping inside the converted warehouse, the passion for coffee at ST ALi is simply potent in its atmosphere. Multiple baristas man the coffee bar at all times, continuously making coffee using all manners of technique, from pour overs to syphoning. The menu also boasts a long list of different coffees to try, including a coffee tasting plate that allows you to sample various black and milk blends.
Besides coffee, the cafe also offers an all-day brunch menu which features hearty treats such as the Koo Coo Ca Choo, a crispy potato hash with mushroom duxelle, poached eggs, English stilton stuffed flat mushrooms and truffle vinaigrette. We also strongly recommend trying out their hot chocolate, a thick and heartening beverage perfect for chilly winter days in Melbourne. In fact, offering both indoor and outdoor seating, ST ALi provides the coziest corners to enjoy the best parts of Melbourne weather, whether you prefer crisp winter breezes or simply golden streaks of daylight to go with your daily dose of coffee.
ST ALi Coffee Roasters
12-18 Yarra Pl, South Melbourne VIC 3205
7am – 6pm daily
Coffee SupremeAnother place we visited was Coffee Supreme, a well-established roastery and cafe tucked away in the industrial backstreets of Abbotsford on Grosvenor Street. Coffee here is freshly roasted daily in the back-of-house roastery as well as in the 12 kilogram Probat that the team first started out with from 1986. Beans have also been self-sourced by the team for the past decade, with special emphasis on building long-term relationships with suppliers.
Over here, we enjoyed their batch brewed filter of the day, a Sao Jose from Brazil, that flourished with notes of peanut brittle and orange with a smooth and buttery mouthfeel. The espresso blend used for our flat white was a Boxer that hinted flavours of dark chocolate and maple through a full and toasty mouthfeel. Other lovely espresso blends available include the Supreme, South, Five Star Day and Origin. Single origin coffees are also available for espresso and filter that change throughout the month.
28-36 Grosvenor St, Abbotsford VIC 3067
Mon – Fri 7.30am – 3pm
Sat 8am – 3pm, Sun 9am – 3pm
Patricia Coffee Brewers
Next up is Patricia Coffee Brewers, a well-known gem in between Little Bourke Street and Little William Street in the Melbourne CBD.
Opened in 2011 by Bowen Holden and Pip Heath, Patricia is known for brewing the best coffee in Australia. The quaint establishment serves up black, white and filter coffee using beans roasted at Bureaux Collective, a shared coffee roasting space in Melbourne. The charming interior of the cafe was also designed by Foolscap and Beyond the Pixels, well-established interior design firms in Australia.
Although small and hidden, Patricia is always packed to the brim. The cafe also offers a wide selection of pastries, ranging from brownies and tea cakes to doughnuts and cookies, each making perfect accompaniments to your coffee. But perhaps what makes Patricia most endearing is the experience of simply pulling up milk crates outside the cafe to use as tables and chairs or just sitting on the pavement as you enjoy a nice, warm flat white under the morning sun.
Patricia Coffee Brewers
Little Bourke St &, Little William St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm
Closed on weekends
Aunty Peg’s is the latest venture of Nolan Hirte, founder and owner of the wildly popular cafe Proud Mary located on Oxford Street, Collingwood. Just a couple of blocks away on Wellington Street, Aunty Peg’s serves as a showcase where coffee is presented in its purest form. Only black coffee is served here, though customers have the option to enjoy the beverage via a variety of filter methods, as an espresso or even a cold nitro brew.
Aunty Peg’s is more than simply a cafe, however. The coffee bar shares the large two-storey old commercial building with a roastery, green coffee storage room, event space, retail shop, office space and espresso training area. Roasting and espresso-making classes are often conducted here for baristas and groups to participate in and there are even free cupping sessions on Saturday mornings where coffee enthusiasts may taste and learn about coffee firsthand from the Aunty Peg’s team. In fact, the whole premise of the establishment was to create an inclusive space where people would be able to view and better understand the processes that take place behind creating high quality coffee.
This inclusiveness is perhaps best expressed in the design of the studio space, the brainchild of Hirte himself and his father. The interior of Aunty Peg’s is vast and spacious with the clean, white coffee bar situated welcomingly against darker tones of blue and grey. Surrounding the coffee machines and barista workspace in almost a crescent shape, the coffee bar creates the perfect space for gathering and engaging baristas in coffee conversations. If you fancy yourself a coffee geek and would like to learn more about the craft, we strongly suggest dropping by Aunty Peg’s for an afternoon of complete immersion into the world of coffee production!
200 Wellington St, Collingwood VIC 3066
9am – 5pm daily
Next up on the list is Market Lane Coffee. With six different shop locations scattered around Melbourne, Market Lane is no stranger to the Australian coffee scene. Since opening their first coffee shop and roastery at Prahran Market in 2009, the roastery has only pushed out beans that are in season and which can stand out on their own without any blending.
The Market Lane shop we visited was situated within the famous Queen Victoria Market. Closed on Mondays and Wednesdays in accordance with the opening hours of the market, this particular outlet only serves to-gos, which actually creates a lovely experience of sipping your warm coffee while strolling through the market aisles. On our trip there, we enjoyed a crisp and comforting flat white in a charming take-out cup printed with Market Lane’s famous mantra: “We love to make coffee for the city that loves to drink it.”
Market Lane Coffee
Queen Vic Market
Shop 73-76 Dairy Produce Hall, Melbourne 3000
Tue, Thur, Fri 7am – 3pm
Sat 6.30am – 4pm, Sun 7.30am – 4pm
Everyday Coffee has made a good name for itself since opening on Johnston Street, Collingwood, six years ago. Recently, they’ve made a move to a new location nearby, taking over a spacious old mechanical workshop on Sackville Street and becoming neighbours with their friends over at ACOFFEE.
Taking a different approach to space-making from their neighbour, the Everyday Coffee set up consists of wonderfully grungy and borrowed-looking seats and tables, exuding the character of “a work in progress” and creating a comfortably informal atmosphere perfect for spending a few languid hours in.
The coffee shop was opened by Mark Free and Aaron Maxwell, long-time employees of notable coffee joints Brother Baba Budan and Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters respectively. Previously showcasing a rotating selection of top coffees from other establishments such as Market Lane, Seven Seeds and Code Black Coffee, the Everyday Coffee team began roasting on their own about four years ago at Bureaux Collective, serving their own roasts for black, white and filter options.
There, we enjoyed a couple of creamy whites and a juicy hand brew alongside a warm banana bread served with soft butter, one of the many delicious bakes available at the counter from the bakery All Are Welcome.
36-38 Sackville St, Collingwood VIC 3066
7am – 4pm daily
Code Black Coffee
Moving on, we also visited Code Black Coffee, a Melbourne-based coffee roasting company that has established multiple coffee shops all over the city. The spot we visited was its second outlet on Howard Street, North Melbourne.
Housed in a converted old mechanical workshop, the bright and warm interior of the cafe contrasts with its weathered brick exterior. Designed by Zwei Interior Architecture, the key feature of the cafe space is a timber-slatted mezzanine floor elevated above the coffee bar where additional seating is available. The brown and white tones of the cafe are also complemented by punctuations of bright teal steel beams and columns, adding a playful splash of colour to the space.
A delectable breakfast and lunch menu prepared by Executive Chef Steve Rangiwahia is also available, featuring mouthwatering treats such as apple salted caramel hotcakes and their signature breakfast dish of applewood-smoked salmon back served with horseradish hollandaise and potato rosti.
Code Black Coffee
North Melbourne 119 Howard St, North Melbourne VIC 3051
7am – 4pm daily
Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters
Our last stop in Melbourne was Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters on Berkeley Street at Carlton. Located a little north of Queen Victoria Market, Seven Seeds was one of the first cafes that really helped to establish the coffee scene in Australia as we know it today. Mark Dundon, former owner of ST ALi Coffee Roasters, teamed up with Bridget Amor to set up the cafe and roastery in 2008. As one of the first few to deviate away from the predominant Italian style of coffee roasting in Australia at the time which fixated on darkly roasted commodity-grade beans for espresso, Dundon and Amor pushed for a new movement, favouring directly-sourced high quality beans and lighter roasting styles, opening coffee up to a wider variety of brewing methods and techniques. Today, Seven Seeds offers beans for both espresso and filter from a wide range of sources including Guatemala, Ethiopia, Colombia and Brazil, roasted in their massive onsite roasting machine - a 60-kilogram Probat.
Accompanying their fantastic coffees is a phenomenal all-day menu, offering enticing options of a brioche French toast with blood plum curd, a Cuban style pressed pork sandwich, a truffle mash with poached egg and much, much more.
With such a strong reputation for good coffee as well as a rock solid food menu, it should also be noted that it is not uncommon to have to wait between 10-30 minutes for a table, especially since the cafe is a popular haunt for students from the University of Melbourne located just a couple of blocks away.
Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters
114 Berkeley St, Carlton VIC 3053
Mon – Sat 7am – 5pm, Sun 8am – 5pm