Melbourne is quite possibly one of the best locations in the entire world when it comes to espresso stye coffee and ‘Melburnians’ consider proximity to a wide section of high quality cafes to be one of their basic human rights. However in the city with the highest number of cafes/population in the entire world, a city where over 30 tonnes of coffee are imported daily, how do you find the best?
I like many chefs am obsessed with coffee and have spent many hours exploring different corners of the city trying to locate my favourite spots. Therefore without further ado, here are my choices for my favourite coffee shops in Melbourne:
Set just off Willliam Street down Little Bourke, this little cafe packs a big punch. Two small windows contribute to a facade that would be easy to miss if not for the crowds of people diligently waiting for one of the best coffees in town. There is a dedication to the craft of coffee at Patricia which is seldom matched, the staff are friendly and the end product is consistently amazing. Patricia roast their own blend at Beaureaux coffee but also regularly feature guest coffees. The filter coffee offering here is equally fantastic.
2. Aunty Pegs- Collingwood
Proud Mary is my favourite of the quality coffee roasteries that dominate the Melbourne scene and so it is of no surprise that their cathedral to coffee is my favourite in the city. This place could only exist in Melbourne; part roastery, cafe, cupping room this venue is a coffee pilgrims Jerusalem. Expect a wide selection of different brewing methods coupled with their huge range of different beans. Pour over coffee here is excellent as is the unusual Geisha coffee on tap.
3. Bayano the Rebel- South Yarra
Bayano the Rebel is all about breaking the boundaries between the coffee farmers and the end brew reflected in the constantly changing coffee selection from Disciple coffee that highlights the location of the farms where the beans were grown. Marwin Shaw ( one of the founders of Admiral Cheng Ho and Monk Bhodi Darma other cafes deserving of their place on this list) co founded this venue alongside Zak Openstein in 2018 and it remains one of my favourites in the city. If you find yourself in South Yarra a suburb that is otherwise lacking in great coffee it is definitely worth the journey to this tucked away hidden gem.
4. St Ali Coffee Roasters- South Melbourne
St Ali is one of the largest coffee roasters in the city and one of the key names who helped shaped the speciality coffee scene. Originating in South Melbourne ST Ali also own the ‘Sensory Lab,’ cafes which have locations in the CBD as well as SYD and even the airport. The espresso here is great and you get the sense that the staff are true coffee nerds, if your feeling up for it St Ali also offers the coffee equivalent of a tasting paddle, where you can explore the differences of coffee style and beans side to side through 6 different coffees.
5. Dukes Coffee Roasters- CBD
Another one of the Melbourne powerhouses Dukes gained its name in Windsor and soon rose to being one of the best specialty coffee roasters in the city. Their flagship is now located within the CBD, a sophisticated styled building made with an environmentally conscious eye, attention to detail which is reflected in the brew. Their filter coffee options are also fantastic and definitely worth sampling.
6. ONA Coffee- Brunswick
My first encounter with ONA coffee was at their flagship in Canberra and to say it was a game changer would be a massive understatement. The brand has expanded to now include locations in Melbourne and Sydney, where they continue their commitment to sourcing and roasting specialty coffee. Melbournians may have been reluctant to accept an outsider at first but you can only admire with awe the huge variety of coffee on offer here ( I have seen a coffee selection of over 18 different varieties) and the care by which it is prepared. ONA’s founder, Saša Šestić, is also a world barista championship winner who has his finger on the pulse of coffee preparation, reason enough to check out this heavy swinger in the coffee world.
7. Brother Baba Budan- CBD
One name, Mark Dundon, founder of the equally celebrated St Ali , in 2007 he started up a second roastery called Seven Seeds and has since sold the St aAli brand. Despite pre-dating Seven Seeds (Brother Baba Budan was opened in 2003) the cafe has since become the companies flagship location. It serves exceptional coffee in a cluttered but charming space ( chairs hang wildly from the ceiling). Order espresso coffee or batch brew to sample some of their amazing single origin coffees.
8. Admiral Cheng Ho Specialty Coffee- Abbotsford
An amazing venue, walk up to the counter and you will see 5-6 grinders each topped with a different and regularly changing single origin coffee. Admiral Cheng Ho reinforces a sense of connection with the birthplace of the coffee beans, and the staffs enthusiasm for the growers is infectious. Like Bayano the Rebel and Monk Bodi Dharma, Admiral Cheng Ho uses Disciple Coffee, a definite frontrunner in the world of ethical coffee.
Honorable mentions; Please note, all of these locations are worth a visit and in most cases my failure to include them on the previous list is more down to my own preferences and/or the fact that I haven’t visited the venues often enough to make a fair comment on what they do.
- Axil Cafe and Roastry HQ- Hawthorn
- Franklin Cafe- Windsor
- Industry Beans- Fitzroy
- Market Lane- Prahran
- Omar and the Marvellous Coffee Bird- Gardenvale
- Monk Bodhi Darma- Balaklava