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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Seven of Melbourne's best cafes

Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne

If coffee is your drug of choice, Melbourne will have you wired in no time. There are so many great cafes spread throughout the city you're spoilt for choice, and while Sydney's coffee playground tends to be dominated by a handful of major players, there's an enviable proliferation of small but successful roasters down south.

This isn't a definitive list of Melbourne's best cafes, but it's a head start on where you can get your next caffeine fix, whether you prefer a shot or a pour over.


Patricia Coffee Brewers

Entrance to Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne
The hidden entrance to Patricia Coffee Brewers

Finding Patricia Coffee Brewers is half the challenge, but keep an eye out for young hipsters sipping coffee while sitting on milk crates and you're almost there. The entrance is a sharp right off Little William Street, the doorway facing a row of commercial rubbish bins.

Coffee counter at Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne
Coffee counter at Patricia Coffee Brewers, with a brogue shoe of course

There are no seats inside Patricia (hence the people sitting in the alleyway outside) but there's a European sense of charm about the place with its white tiles, marble counter-tops and deep stained timbers. The sharp looking brogue sitting at the counter blends in like it's part of the scenery. Make sure you look up at the ceiling too, for a little neon-tubed sunshine.

Short black coffee at Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne
Short black coffee $3.70

The coffee menu is deliberately short and sweet. There are only three options: black, white or filter, using beans sourced from Seven Seeds, Market Lane and Proud Mary. A complimentary glass of sparkling water is a lovely touch.


Market Lane Coffee

Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne

Market Lane Coffee is one of the bigger cafes in Melbourne, with four outlets dotted around the city. The Carlton branch is tiny, with most people placing orders directly through the window. If you do venture inside, there's a narrow corridor just outside the shop to stand-up and have your coffee.

Illimani Espresso coffee beans at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne
Illimani Espresso coffee beans

Market Lane source their own beans direct from the farm, and have a particular focus on beans from east African and Latin America. These are lightly roasted, making them ideal for filter coffees and pour overs. They also do darker roasts that suit espresso machines and stove top coffee makers.

Pour over coffee at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne
Making a pour over

Their distinctive uniform of long grey aprons over blue shirts are so hip it hurts, but the staff always seem genuinely excited about each cup of coffee they make.

Juan Ticona pour over coffee at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne
Juan Ticona pour over 

They take their pour overs seriously, using scales and times to get the perfect brew. Printed tasting notes earn bonus points too.

Coffee cup quote at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne


Hardware Societe

Outdoor seating at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Outdoor seating at Hardware Societe

At Hardware Societe, they use the Daddy's Girl blend by Padre coffee. The milk comes from St David Dairy in Fitzroy, a small batch micro-dairy using milk from Victorian farms.

Fried brioche with creme Catalan curd at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Fried brioche $18
Creme Catalan curd, fresh berries and sweet migas

There's as much of an emphasis on the food as the coffee here. The cafe gets ridiculously busy, especially on weekends. The menu has some lighter options, like bircher muesli ($13) and a Continental breakfast of granola with yoghurt, fruit and a croissant ($16) but much of it is unapologetically rich, like the fried brioche ($18) that comes with a rich and eggy Catalan curd. At lunch the weekday menu clicks over to hearty renditions of twice cooked pork belly ($21) and confit duck ($21).

Double shot flat white coffee at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Double shot flat white $4

In addition to the usual espresso mix, you can order cold drips ($4.50) and Clover coffee ($5). 

Clover coffee maker at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Clover coffee maker

Catalan custard inside the fried brioche at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Catalan custard inside the fried brioche


Proud Mary

Entrance to Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne

You have to get off the main drag of Smith Street to find Proud Mary, nestled in the side streets of Collingwood.

Six-group customised Synesso espresso machine at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Six-group customised Synesso Hydra espresso machine

Taking pride of place behind the counter is their custom-made beast of an espresso machine, two three-group Synessos that have been melded together to create one helluva coffee engine. The gleaming chrome finish is flawless. It's the only six-group Synesso in the world.

Macchiato at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Macchiato $3.50

The macchiato comes in a double-walled espresso glass with measurements on the side. They do every kind of filter coffee here too, including pour overs, syphon, Aeropress and cold drip.

V60 pour over vessels at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
V60 pour over vessels

There are tables littered throughout the cafe, but if you pull up a stool at the counter, you get to enjoy a free pour over show as you sip your coffee.

Making V60 pour over coffee at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Stirring the wet coffee grounds 

Making V60 pour over coffee at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Adding the final stage of water

If you want a little Proud Mary to take home, they have an impressive selection of beans too, sorted into blends, espresso or filter. Many of them will have have been freshly roasted in the last couple of days.

Macchiato at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne


Dukes Coffee Roasters

Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne

You could easily walk past Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, based at the bottom of Ross House.

La Marzocco espresso machine at Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne
La Marzocco espresso machine

The narrow cafe has limited seating but there's still a sense of space in here. Reclaimed timber runs the length of the coffee counter with recycled tiles used on the floor. A La Marzocco espresso machine sits bright and shiny on the counter.

Short black at Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Short black 

Dukes roast their own coffee, buying from individual farms or small cooperatives. Their roastery is based in Collingwood, with beans available in either espresso or filter roasts.

Coffee bar counter at Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Coffee bar counter


The League of Honest Coffee

The League of Honest Coffee by Padre, Melbourne

I'd like to imagine The League of Honest Coffee is really the cover for a group of caffeine-fuelled superheroes but given the number of customers that flock here each morning, maybe that's not too far from the truth anyway.

Padre Coffee beans at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Filter coffee beans by Padre Coffee

The League of Honest Coffee is one of four cafes run by Padre Coffee, a roastery that originally started as the Brunswick East Project. They still roast all their coffee beans in Brunswick with a lighter roast available for filter coffees.

Clover coffee machine at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Clover coffee machine

They're been quietly collecting Clover machines too, an automated digitally programmable drip coffee machine that brews coffee one cup at a time. It means that variables can be adjusted with scientific precision and leads to consistency once the ideal parameters have been set.

Extracting coffee from the Clover at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Extracting coffee from the Clover

There are only 11 Clovers in Australia and Padre now has seven of them. Supply has diminished ever since Starbucks bought the company in 2008 with exclusive rights to all subsequent production and programming software.

Ethiopian Clover coffee at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Ethiopian Clover coffee served in an American-style diner mug

Inside The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne


St Ali 

St Ali in South Melbourne

On the other side of the Yarra is St Ali, hidden in a massive warehouse among the back streets of South Melbourne. Started up in 2005 by Mark Dundon in 2005, the business was sold to Salvatore Malatesta in 2008. A second cafe, St Ali North, opened in North Carlton in 2012.

Entrance to St Ali in South Melbourne
Entrance to St Ali in South Melbourne

Seating inside St Ali in South Melbourne
Seating inside St Ali

The cafe is huge, with a series of nooks and crannies holding an eclectic mix of chairs and tables.

Coffee shot brewed on the espresso machine at St Ali in South Melbourne
Coffee shot $6

The dine-in coffee menu branches out into an extended remix of caffeine hits. It includes tracks like the St Ali tasting plate of brews ($18), Espresso 3 ways ($11) and the iced coffee shot ($6.50) which adds ice to a double strength shot of coffee.

The coffee shot is worth a look too, a filter brew that has the body and flavour of a pour over but ingeniously brewed on an espresso machine.

The Elvis Jelly-Jam on Dr Marty's crumpets at St Ali in South Melbourne
The Elvis Jelly-Jam $16
Dr Marty's crumpet stack with whipped peanut butter, jelly and chocolate

There's a whimsical sense of humour in the food menu as well. Confit duck salad becomes A Box of Quackers ($19), slow roasted Middle Eastern spiced lamb shoulder is rebadged as My Mutton-in-Law ($19) and Fat Tuesday marries Pepe Saya buttermilk pancakes with lemon curd creme fraiche.

The Elvis Jelly-Jam on Dr Marty's crumpets at St Ali in South Melbourne

But how could you go past the Elvis Jelly-Jam? It's a pair of handmade Dr Marty crumpets garnished with dollops of raspberry jelly, chocolate sauce drizzles and puddles of whipped peanut butter. Coffee and crumpets never tasted so good.



Dukes Coffee Roasters
247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
No telephone
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 4.30pm and Saturday 9am - 5pm
Also open at Windsor, Docklands and Collingwood
Dukes Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon

Hardware Societe
120 Hardware Street, Melboure
Tel: +61 (03) 9078 5992
Open Monday to Friday 7.30am - 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am - 2.30pm
The Hardware Société on Urbanspoon

Market Lane Coffee
176 Faraday Street, Carlton, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9804 7434
Open Monday to Saturday 7am - 4pm and Sunday 8am - 4pm
Also open at Prahran Market, Queen Vic Market and Therry Street
Market Lane Coffee Pop-Up Store on Urbanspoon

Patricia Coffee Brewers
495-495 Little Bourke Street (corner Little Bourke and Little William Street), Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9642 2237
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 4pm
Patricia Coffee Brewers on Urbanspoon

Proud Mary 
172 Oxford Street, Collingwood, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9417 5930
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 4pm and Saturday to Sunday 8am - 4pm
Proud Mary on Urbanspoon

St Ali
12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9686 2990
Open daily 7am - 6pm
Also open at Carlton North
St Ali on Urbanspoon

The League of Honest Coffee by Padre Coffee
8 Exploration Lane, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9654 0169
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 5pm and Saturday 8am - 3pm
Also open at Brunswick East, South Melbourne Market and Queen Victoria Market
The League of Honest Coffee on Urbanspoon


Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Melbourne - Lee Ho Food, Collingwood
Melbourne - Rockwell and Sons, Collingwood
Melbourne - The Town Mouse, Carlton

26 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/17/2014 01:23:00 am


26 Comments:

  • At 8/17/2014 8:41 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    The coffee scene is so much stronger in Melbourne than it is in Sydney. And nice to see Market Lane on your list. It's one of my go-to's when I'm south of the border.

     
  • At 8/17/2014 9:08 am, Anonymous Francesca said…

    Thanks for that round up of coffee houses in Melbourne. Of course there are trillions of others but these seem rather unusual. There are some great coffee houses in Brunswick- another chapter one day?

     
  • At 8/17/2014 9:09 am, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Thanks for this post, I'll keep it bookmarked for next time I'm in Melbourne.

     
  • At 8/17/2014 9:09 am, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Thanks for this post, I'll keep it bookmarked for next time I'm in Melbourne.

     
  • At 8/17/2014 9:10 am, Anonymous Cindy (a foodie's joy) said…

    Great post! I have only managed to check out 2 from your list. Patricia was smashingly good but I was disappointed with St Ali. Sounds like you had a better time there than I did! Can't wait to check out some of the others on your list when I am back in Melbourne. :)

     
  • At 8/17/2014 9:36 am, Anonymous Michael @ I'm Still Hungry said…

    I've been to Melbourne countless times but have yet to crack more than two on this list. Know thy coffee.

    St Ali also happens to be where Matt Perger works - #1 barista in Australia & #2 in the world!

     
  • At 8/17/2014 10:24 am, OpenID delectablydegusting said…

    Such a timely post as I'm doing my research for my Melbourne trip soon! Can't wait to try their coffee and see how much better it is than Sydney's!

     
  • At 8/17/2014 12:14 pm, Blogger Alice Lau said…

    Love the wording on that cup, that they 'love to make coffee for the city that loves to drink it!' Great write up as always, now I just need to get down to Melbourne!!! ;)

     
  • At 8/17/2014 12:21 pm, Anonymous Esz said…

    I really dont rate St Ali these days - they took a massive downturn about 3 years ago IMHO.

    Missed a few great ones too like Cup of Truth in the Flinders St subway...Auction Rooms and Twenty & Six in North Melbourne...Brother Baba Budan and Seven Seeds....

    Dukes is great and I like Patricia too :-D

     
  • At 8/17/2014 5:18 pm, Anonymous Neel @ Spice Sugar and Soda said…

    This post has evoked nostalgic memories of the 4 years I spent in Melbourne. Love those little alleyways and the boutique cafe's. Great post Helen!

     
  • At 8/17/2014 5:39 pm, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    I'm such a fan of Patricia and the textured milk in their lattes is perfection. My favourite coffee joint in Melbs hands down! I bought some beans from Market Lane too when I visited em. You should hit up A Little Bird Told Me next time you're in Melbs. The owner/head barista is an ex-roaster at Seven Seeds.

     
  • At 8/17/2014 6:38 pm, OpenID nessyeater said…

    You got me wanting to go back to Melbourne! I've only tried 1 out 6, you've mentioned. Shame on me! :P

     
  • At 8/17/2014 7:08 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    The brioche and its filling sold me. So rich and creamy and yummy looking!!!


    Julie
    Gourmet Getaways

     
  • At 8/17/2014 7:31 pm, Blogger vegeTARAian said…

    There are some serious coffee happenings going on in those shots! As I'm not a coffee drinker I'll skip the brew - bags the Elvis jelly jam! Great tips for my next Melbs visit.

     
  • At 8/17/2014 9:59 pm, Blogger Shanshan Lam said…

    ohhh thanks for this listing Helen. Thinking of going down to Melbourne for a bit next year - will def be bookmarking this page.

     
  • At 8/17/2014 10:09 pm, Blogger MAB vs Food said…

    I absolutely LOVE the coffee scene in Melbourne. Everytime I am in Melbourne I always try to cram in as much coffee as I can (which might be 4 or 5 different coffees lolol). This is a fantastic list; Market Lane and Proud Mary are my faves :D

     
  • At 8/17/2014 10:31 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Oh yay! Your post makes me so proud to be a Melbournian! Heheh.

    I still haven't visited Hardware Societe or The League of Honest Coffee so they're on my list now! Yay!

    xox Sarah

     
  • At 8/18/2014 12:00 am, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    Dang I wish I had this list before I went to Melbourne! I shall keep it for future reference :P Coffee in Melbourne is something else entirely - so good :)

     
  • At 8/18/2014 12:35 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    ooh great list, hope to give them all a try the next time im in melb!

     
  • At 8/18/2014 12:36 am, Blogger Annie said…

    thanks for this list. there's a couple on this list that i actually haven't heard of but will keep an eye out for them on my next trip

     
  • At 8/19/2014 8:06 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    Even though I'm not a coffee drinker, I can appreciate the sheer quality of so many good cafes in Melbourne for coffee lovers.

     
  • At 8/19/2014 10:10 am, Blogger Cassie | Journey From Within said…

    The fried brioche and jelly jam crumpets look so good!

     
  • At 8/20/2014 7:46 am, Blogger Roo Food said…

    That fried brioche at Hardware Societe grab me....but the Elvis Jelly Jam....in love!!! Great coffee review....eager to try some out next time I'm down there.

     
  • At 8/21/2014 9:46 am, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    I've tried to go to Hardware Society a few times now, but the issue is that the line is always so long that I can't bear to wait! I must be more patient next time...

     
  • At 8/22/2014 12:27 am, Anonymous sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    Awesome round up Helen. Showing my age, but I am sure pour over coffee is just reincarnated filter coffee of the 70s early 80s. Looks identical, go retro kawfee!

     
  • At 8/27/2014 11:25 am, Blogger Brisbane Devoured said…

    Fantastic, I am headed down in October and this is very useful! Cheers.

     

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