Best Melbourne Cafes
Here is a review of 25 of Melbourne's best cafes/coffee houses (no particular order):
The Kettle Black
One Plus Piece
Three Bags Full
Pellegrini's Espresso Bar
The Little Mule
Brother Baba Budan
The League of Honest Coffee
Mammoth - Armadale - Food 9.5, Coffee 9, Ambience 9
Arguably one of the best in Melbourne. There's some serious cafe clout behind this venture; Loren and Jamie McBride from Touchwood, Barry and Pillar of Salt fame (cafes we love and adore). As great as those cafes are, Mammoth is discernably different with bold flair. Is this the brave new world of cafes?
For those who may be bored with the same old same old food options of many Melbourne cafes, Mammoth brings a point of difference. When we scan cafe menus it's often a case of wanting 2 or 3 picks out of the menu then deciding. Call us snobs but that's the way it is. In this case it was about what not to order. Interesting and compelling menu options.
Mind you there are many dishes we are yet to taste. Stumbing along on a quiet week day in the school holidays we were met by a packed out cafe. Lucky to get a table, dining solo on occasion has it's advantages. We love the light and airy feel to the place, designed by Techne Architecture. Blues and browns, great use of timber and a spacious minimalist look, borders on Scandinavian. The triangular shape of the cafe is unusual but there's several compelling spaces for your dining pleasure.
Coffee is a big deal at any cafe and Mammoth delivers. We enjoyed a sumptuous filter coffee that hit the spot, although we were drooling over the shiny Synesso.
As for the menu options we chose The Benedict - duck sausage, orange and corn blini, pickled onion, fried egg, smoked maple hollandaise. Simply sensational, the duck sausage was the hero and a surprisingly generous portion to boot. Duck and orange are a killer combination and the orange and corn blini was a perfect taste, as well as texture match. The impression was instant; how good is this dish!
It's art on a plate, although no sense of pretension. It's an Instagrammers dream, but with foodie substance behind it.
Other options that we'd like to try include Cherry lamington puffed pancake; or the Lobster donut burger; or the Szechuan spiced spare ribs. The waitress also raved to us about the salads; the Black Russian salad and the Smoked chicken salad. Next time.
Or indeed hit up the Golden Gaytime panna cotta for dessert. And did someone say Egg and bacon popcorn?
Staff were professional and passionate about this cafe when we engaged in conversation. Mammoth was a standout cafe experience; pushing boundaries is what we love to see.
The Kettle Black -Richmond - Food 9.5, Coffee 9, Ambience 9.5
The Kettle Black has become an archetype of the modern Melbourne cafe. Stylish and chic fit out, and the food a treat to the eyes as well as the mouth. It's like the food world has collided with the fashion world. Coffee and service are also on point. The World Loves Melbourne revisited The Kettle Black (our third or fourth visit) thinking we should come here more often.
The elegance and chic finery of The Kettle Black resonates. Having recently enjoyed Diner En Blanc in Melbourne it felt as though we were still there in terms of style. I was thinking my white attire wouldn't look out of place here. Several spaced beckon for your dining attention; and for the first time I was escorted to the upper room.
On a sun drenched Melbourne day the light was streaming through the large windows; unveling a magical ambience. Cakes at the counter look appealing but we were here for brunch.
Food here at The Kettle Black is as good as anywhere; from the healthy Coconut set dish to the Tataki Ocean trout dish, to the Chilli Scrambled eggs dish and the Fresh Kingfish with potato crisps. Serious cafe cuisine.
Some of the dishes we previously enjoyed at The Kettle Black have gone from the menu; we celebrate that it's an evolving menu here (as well as interesting daily specials). Notably the Crayfish Roll has been replaced by the Port Phillip Snapper in a brioche roll with green papaya salad, lime and chilli jam. A "big call" as the Lobster Roll was iconic, but we now prefer the Snapper dish. Surely this is one of the best Melbourne brunch/lunch dishes around; it should be a chart topper in everyone's "best of" lists.
Generous fillets of Snapper (2) cooked perfectly with caramelisation of the skin, and the combination of the chilli jam and zesty green papaya salad is stunning. The soft brioche bun is perfect, albeit slightly rich, providing hint of sweetness and lovely texture around the fish and salad. One must squeeze the lime over the fish for extra zest. Presentation is sensational; art on a plate. After eating this dish there was a feeling of being pleasantly satiated and sufficiently full.
Coffee here is A grade with this Kenya Ruthagati Filter. Juicy. Tropical Fruit. Pomegranate. Delightful complexity from the North Western side of Mt. Kenya.
More eye candy with the Hotcake with Ricotta, blueberries, pure maple, double cream and seeds. Another iconic dish on the Melbourne brunch scene.
Of course there's pedigree at The Kettle Black; the same maestros that have brought us Top Paddock and Two Birds One Stone, and others.
Plant life is alive and well at the Kettle Black; again it's stylishly done.
We think it's all part of a trend of seeing restaurant quality food in cafes; something you don't always see around the world. The Kettle Black raises the bar on Melbourne cafes and is world class. If you were looking to meet with someone and impress them you might come here.
Top Paddock- Richmond - Food 9.5, Coffee 9, Ambience 9.5
Visually it doesn't get any better. How can you eat something so gorgeous?
Top Paddock is one of Melbourne's standout cafes with its spacious modern fit out and extensive imaginative menu. Meeting here in a trendy part of Richmond with my salubrious brother (Melbourne businessman and food critic extraordinaire) we commented that "these people know what they're doing". And they surely do being of the stable of Three Bags Full, APTE and Two Birds One Stone - some of the best cafes in Melbourne. Chatting with one of the owners Nathan Toleman at the restaurant, the team have pulled their experience from the other cafes and have even progressed the cafe concept.
The Blueberry & ricotta hotcake with berries, organic maple, seeds and double cream is a stunning brunch dish that belongs in the arts centre as a colourful masterpiece. It is the Rembrandt and Monet of brunch dishes.
Wait staff tell us that one in three customers order this for brunch; and it’s one of the most photographed dishes in Melbourne.
The taste is as amazing as the appearance; perfect fluffy hotcake with indulgent organic maple syrup, with freshness of berries and crunch of seeds.
All scooped up with a dollop of double cream. Don’t tell your doctor.
Several years on and Top Paddock is as strong as ever; with strong numbers during the week and a weekend overflow and line up. Kudos!
Operator 25 - CBD - 25 Wills St CBD - Food 9.5, Coffee 9, Ambience 9.5
Operator 25 is a revelation cafe set in a former telephone exchange located in the legal district in the Melbourne CBD. The place is pumping with interesting dining spaces full of patrons, featuring an intergenerational crowd. The World Loves Melbourne decided to visit this cafe in a heritage building having heard rave reviews. We were not disappointed. Operator 25 has made an effort with its fit out with exposed brick walls, quality furniture, funky blackboard and top class artwork throughout...
The World Loves Melbourne enjoys a cafe with a decent drinks list, including a local favourite pale ale... In summer heat they delivered with their own spiritzer - Operator's Spritzer - cold drip coffee, maple syrup, lemon, poached pear, mint, tonic water and sweet micro herbs.
Hello Operator! The young crowd imbibed the delights of Operator 25 on stolls and high tables...
The menu was compelling from ex Bacash chef Valerie Fong, with extra class in options that are not the usual Melbourne brunch fare. On recommendation we chose what proved to be one of the dishes of the year - Sweet corn fritters, fried duck egg, tomato salad, goats curd, and herb oil. Spectacular presentation and spectacular taste. Ticking all the boxes, this dish provided generous portion of fritters and the fritters themselves were fresh and moist and full of flavour. Complementing was the oozy duck egg - together with the fritters so rewarding! The salad wasn't a token but fresh and crisp. A welcome addition to the equation is the goats curd, creamy and delectable. The balance of this dish is superb and a cacophony of culinary delight! Kudos to Head Chef Felipe Guedes.
Yes we are raving but this dish was a highlight in terms of brunch for the year. The menu also offers compelling dishes such as Breakfast Tortilla filled with Scrambled Egg Mixed Mushrooms, Aged Cheddar and Green Harissa, or the House Benedict ‒ Potato Rosti, Grandmother Lamb Ham, Poached Eggs, Mustard and Tarragon Hollandaise.
For lunch try the Beer Battered Soft Shell Crab, Thai Style Salad, Toasted Peanuts, Tamarind Dressing and Sesame Rice Crackers or the Balinese Pulled Pork Burger ‒ Pulled Pork, Fried Egg, Cabbage and Carrot Slaw, Chilli Mayo, Coriander on Brioche Bun with Sweet Potato Wedges.
Says the website -
"Set in a heritage listed Melbourne building, with a modern rustic ambience, Operator25 cafe serves breakfast, lunch and everything in between, daily. Conveniently located on the Melbourne CBD fringe within minutes of the leafy Flagstaff Gardens, there is something for everyone at Operator25. We also cater for vegetarians, gluten-free, have a kid friendly menu, and serve specialty coffee using the finest beans from Melbourne’s own Code Black Coffee Roasters."
Operator 25 is an exceptional cafe in the Melbourne CBD, with strong points across the board and prices affordable. Fun and finesse. Highly recommended.
Crabapple Kitchen - 659 Glenferrie Rd Hawthorn - Food 9.5, Coffee 9.5, Ambience 9.5
Crabapple Kitchen is a stunning cafe on Glenferrie Road Hawthorn that makes a huge impression with its interesting dining spaces, array of gourmet services, friendly engagement and charm. Greg Feck is the luminary behind this establishment and brings to the table fine dining and a love for travel. Experience Crabapple Kitchen and experience the world. Their Friday Night Flights are something to behold, focussing on cuisines of the nations.
The World Loves Melbourne visited one Saturday morning for our first brunch visit and are keen to return. Having imbibed literally hundreds of cafes in Melbourne we felt Crabapple Kitchen is a standout.
There's a sense of playfulness and vibrancy here - a place of colour, flair and creativity. Upon entering Crabapple Kitchen the sound system was playing Madonna "Into the Groove" - so apt.
Get into the groove boy
You have to prove your love to me
I was getting into the groove at Crabapple Kitchen from the "get go" as its conviviality central. I want to bring my partner here, and indeed my mother in law... It's that kind of place.
I've always felt you can tell a foodie destination within seconds. Crabapple Kitchen displays nuances and finesse and a good deal of care in its menu. Walk in to a world of charm, where seating material reminds me of my childhood with blooms of floral against cream. The fitout brings the charm of yesteryear with a splash of modern, notably the exposed brick and naked bulbs (not totally naked with clear jars as coverings).
Crabapple Kitchen has some of the most engaging staff around. Some cafes struggle because staff are not certain or confident beyond a basic level of information. Ask them if they recommend a dish and staff at some cafes just reply, "Don't know, never tried that one." Here at Crabapple Kitchen that's certainly not the case with staff abreast of the menu and eager to make recommendations. Staff at Crabapple Kitchen are foodies (I know some people hate that word but not sure how else to put it). They know their stuff.
Enjoying my little elongated old school table (charm again) I ordered some of Crabapple Kitchen's fine coffee. My latte was impressive and had the required strength for a Saturday morning.
Crabapple Kitchen has one of those menus you can choose from blindfolded throwing a dart. I could see I was going to spend 20 minutes in sweet indecision trying to choose, so I asked the waitress to help me with a recommendation. Having leaned towards the pancakes, I leaned back to embrace her recommendation of Sweet corn and chilli fritters w grilled Cyprian haloumi, avocado, tomato, cucumber, red onion and mint. Her expert advice was to order sides of a poached egg and a serving of chorizo. The wait staff told me the chorizo would set the dish off - and she wasn't wrong.
Crabapple Kitchen is such a revelation
Dining here is a sweet sensation
Such a pretty dish from a team that understands nuances. Hail the mint to give extra zest! My impression was of a refreshing hearty breakfast imbibing fritters with kick and a bevvy of indulgences including the haloumi and chorizo.
Crabapple is pumping baby on a weekend. When I sent a shout out on Twitter several people messaged me about their love for the Friday Night Flight Nights where Crabapple Kitchen somehow manages to create amazing themed dining experiences of various countries and regions. On the Friday following my visit you could experience the best of Portugal.
What is different here to your ordinary plain vanilla cafe/restaurant is these guys have several top chefs and a crack team in the kitchen. Not just executive chef but sous chef for goodness sake. I'm keen to return for lunch and dinner, with my eye already on the Free range chicken schnitzel and Judy's pork chops.
Crabapple Kitchen floats my boat.
Going to get to know you in a special way
This doesn't happen to me everyday
Cumulus Inc - Flinders Lane CBD - Flinders Lane CBD - Food 9.5, Coffee 9.5, Ambience 9.5 -
Cumulus exudes passion for a food culture and brings a sense of fun and an air of sophistication to the Melbourne dining scene. This is where the foodies go. And it stays at the leading edge of culinary Melbourne after several years. Cumulus has a warehouse/studio type vibe - with studio type lighting, high ceilings, and large windows fronting Flinders Lane. There are 3 positions for viewing – either sit at the kitchen bar on a stool watching the expert chefs art work; or sit at the bar overlooking Flinders Lane on a stool watching the baristas at work; or sit in the middle and observe the hip collective in the room.
One of the best breakfasts in Melbourne ! Even the stock Cumulus breakfast is a winner with amazing yoghurt, perfect egg, 3 slices of toast and preserves and juice and coffee - everything an officer worker needs to kick start the day. And so well put together.
But when doing breakfast one must at least tackle the "full English" also a popular mainstay. Be ready to engage some wonderful blood sausage.
Twice I have enjoyed the Shashouska (sounds like a Kate Bush song?) with baked eggs, tomatoes, onions, peppers and marinated Persian fetta with chives – in a pan. Next to that on the large plate is served great seed bread. Wow! A hearty breakfast indeed which comes piping hot (be careful of the pan). Also a nice touch is the little bowls of pink salt and pepper.
If you sit at a communal table you may overhear conversations about gyms, personal trainers or the latest business deal. Coffee is excellent at Cumulus – using a La Marzocco top rank Italian machine.
Staff are professional and engaging. You are warmly greeted for breakfast by friendly staff who show you to a table or stool, decked out with tulips on the tables and 3 different newspapers. Service is consistently great. Tested by moi when ducking in to Cumulus one summer’s day just to have a glass of water and a coffee – staff obliged but I wouldn’t do this often. For lunch and dinner the lamb is to die for - shared for two (but find someone who is not hungry). As good as lamb gets.
Often queues out the door due to no booking policy. I can't believe I was there at the crack of dawn and the place was packed and pumping with jazz on a weekday! Enjoying music from the five Bose speakers mounted around the room! Friendly barista explained to me that the bank vault door to the side of the current modern door is a heritage piece – and it adds to the vibe. Cumulus is a continual culinary joy.
St Ali , 12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne – Asian/Middle Eastern - Food 9 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9
St Ali is a hip cool fun uber café with amazing ambience, stunning coffee and excellent creative menu choices - hidden down a laneway in South Melbourne. This is one of my “go to” places in Melbourne and have loved each of my many visits.
Walk in to a hip if not grungy establishment with industrial themes. The friendly staff are so warm that you don’t mind waiting that 10 or 15 minutes for a table (no booking policy). The staff are also helpful in arranging tables to fit in those groups. We arrived on one occasion to meet an old friend and her partner. The attentive staff were accommodating to find us space as soon as it became available. Another time we met with friends from both Adelaide and London – dazzled by the vibe of St Ali – and staff managed to find us space during a packed Saturday brunch session.
The menu options excite, are creative and show a sense of fun. Brunch highlights include From Chickens With Love options such as eggs anyway with sides or My Mexican Cousin corn fritters. Or for lunch go the Smokey and the Bandit Victorian rainbow trout. Or order the Chris-P confit pork belly. The Chicadee whole chicken thigh burger is a sensation.
The cakes and pastries are also a highlight at St Ali and great with any coffee.
Music pumping, grungy concrete floor, awesome flower arrangements, and the mirror ball, all add to the ambience. Love the communal tables. Love the different interesting areas to dine.
At the present time of writing they are launching a Balls pop up restaurant in July.
Loved lunch here, meeting a good friend from Jo’burg now moved to London. He rated St Ali as a top café to be found anywhere in the world. I found him in a state of bliss when I walked in, already reading a paper and ready for his second amazing coffee. We both enjoyed a legendary lunch and felt many memorable meeetings and catch ups involve St Ali.
Known to be one of the best coffee establishments in Melbourne, St Ali exudes a serious coffee devotion. The house blends are great. Single origin options are dazzling – just look up and check out the board. Panama. Costa Rica. Colombia. Honduras. And others. St Ali brew amazing Cold Drip, Pour Over and Syphon coffee. It's hard to have just one coffee - usually a coffee or three here.St Ali is a coffee wholesaler and roasts it’s own coffee, supplying notable establishments across the city.
St Ali is spectacular.
Proud Mary , 172 Oxford St Collingwood - Food 9 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9
Proud Mary has been crowned Best Cafe in The Age Good Cafe Guide awards on previous occasion. Nestled in a warehouse like premises in Collingwood, Proud Mary with its uber fit out, is the coffee summit. Inspired by owner Nolan Hirte, it exudes rarefied air of coffee excellence. Hirte's stamp of excellence is on every aspect in terms of ambience, passion, coffee sophistication and the notable cuisine. Proud Mary is a benchmark for roasters and coffee lovers in Melbourne and along with its sophistication has the charm of a river boat queen.
Image: Proud Mary Facebook . We had an amazing private session with the owner Nolan Hirte - an unforgettable Melbourne moment. We were visiting the cafe as part of our work custom to visit a different cafe each Friday - known by us IT guys as eFriday (experimentation Friday). Nolan overflows with coffee passion (a good match with the Creedence song) and none of the flame has died from his many years in the industry. Proud Mary keeps on burning.
Just listening to Nolan speak about his trips to source the world's best coffee and his belief that great coffee can bring change, is contagious and inspirational. When he speaks about his recent trip to South America there's an excitement.
Nolan gets off the plane and into the vehicle that takes him to an incredible coffee estate in Guetemala. There he spots some amazing coffee and is able to pay the owner a premium to source coffee he says "just exploded with flavour intensity in my mouth". I'm there brother! Nolan was able to persuade the owner not to sell that coffee at auction but he paid a premium to have it airlifted to Australia and its currently on the menu at Proud Mary. These are the lengths Nolan will go to to lift coffee excellence to dizzying heights.
The complexity of the Panama filter flavour was astounding. Nashi pear flavours.
Image: Proud Mary Facebook. Nolan has a mother of a Synesso, custom made, that can handle several blends at once. This $40,000 heavy artillery is perfect for espresso lovers. My creamy latte had such an intensity of buttery and caramel flavour I just wanted to sip it slowly and let the flavour resonate. Nolan then took us through the filter and cold drip processes at Proud Mary. This is where science and coffee and passion comes together. The Costa Rica Geisha cold drip has such an intense flavour that lingers for some time. Manuka honey and green apple flavours. There's a sweetness as the cold process is less acidic. The word is "geisha" baby - grab yourself one. The pour over filter was a V60 filter process, a manual process giving complete control over brewing time and temperature.
Hipster staff work hard (big wheels keep on turning) but super friendly and engaging every customer like long lost friends! The service from barista Courtney was awesome as she engaged our table on several occasions, made great suggestions, and was personable. Happy to recommend menu options and super passionate about the coffee. She told us about coffee culture in Toronto but was sure Melbourne was at a higher level and sophistication.
Love the ambience here with loads of light coming in, huge windows, exposed brick, high ceilings, large tables and stools along the bar. Also a door handle with character.
Bossy Boots Cafe - 106 Bay Street Brighton - Food 9 Coffee 8.5 Ambience 8.5
Iconic cafe in Brighton that has been well patronised for years. Bossy Boots cafe is a revelation to The World Loves Melbourne, being super popular with Brighton locals and now fast growing in its gourmet take home food offerings. Bossy Boots café is the masterstroke of Melbourne chefs Ben Forehan and Rachael Browne who have taken their cooking talents working at notable Melbourne kitchens such as Stokehouse, Circa and Dench Bakers, and 10 years cooking to the rich and famous on super yachts, to create a unique foodie haven in Brighton. The World Loves Melbourne stopped by for lunch to check out the amazing large gourmet sausage rolls and delectable salads.
Bossy Boots café lays claim to the best take home food in Melbourne. Locals are flocking to the café each day to grab dinner or a meal to take home. We were amazed at how many locals visited in the couple of hours we were there on a weekday lunchtime. This is a unique foodie experience in Melbourne with few if any cafes as successful at providing such quality take home food options. Each day the kitchen team prepare 3-4 tasty curries, salads, pastas, Tuna and Sweetcorn patties, filled crepes, and a killer Eggplant parmigiana.
For time poor professionals Bossy Boots is the perfect destination to get an impressive dinner, desserts and gourmet treats. The display cabinet is spectacular with take home treats on display. You will find it hard to resist the choices.
In recent years Nonna Thomasina (known as Nellie) has graced the kitchen at Bossy Boots and delivers some of the best lasagne and cannelloni you’ll taste in Melbourne. Salads here are super popular including a Tuna Nicoise and Moroccan cous cous salad.
According to Ben, “We thank Brighton locals for their support over the last 7 years. We pride ourselves on the fact that everything is made in house from scratch. We want to deliver honest exceptional food to Melburnians with no short cuts.” Bossy Boots has 5 talented chefs working in their large kitchen, all with extensive experience.
Bossy Boots has a large local following and is known for its relaxed ambience with chic courtyard and large windows inviting bright spaces. Tables on iconic Bay Street are popular imbibing the local Brighton atmosphere.
During their time on the super yachts Ben and Rachael cooked for the rich and famous such as Cindy Crawford, Mel Gibson, Mike Tyson, and Paris Hilton. They also did all the catering for Pamela Anderson’s wedding when she married Kid Rock on a super yacht in St Tropez. Says Ben, “We have taken skills we learned on the super yachts into the Bossy Boots experience.”
Ben Forehan and Rachael Browne are classically trained having both studied Vienoisserie at E’cole Le Notre, in Paris, and have been able to bring their passion and skills to the café scene. They have control over the whole cooking process making everything from scratch. Ben takes care of the main kitchen while Rachael is in control of the separate pastry kitchen.
The menu is about fresh honest food, with a mix of brunch and lunch staples and a nod to Italian fare.
Ben and Rachael are the master of pastries with Bossy Boots making their own Danish pastries, high end French cakes, and the best pies, quiche and sausage rolls in Melbourne. Around Easter Bossy Boots is also famous for its Hot Cross Buns, contender for best in Melbourne.
The breakfast menu features Homemade muesli, Vanilla Poached Pears, or for the hungry try Ben’s Big Breaky, with poached or fried eggs with bacon, baked beans, mushrooms and chipolatas. Check out the House made baked beans with crumbed feta on toast. Customers love the sides including Regal smoked salmon, Istra bacon and house made baked beans.
The World Loves Melbourne enjoyed this selection of large gourmet sausage roll and delectable salads. The sausage roll has a superb flaky pastry with full butter pastry, and quality mince and sausage. The relishes included the standard relish and the one with some kick. Both were made from scratch. The salads were exceptional, healthy, and interesting. Everything was high quality.
Popular dishes on the lunch menu include Traditional lasagne, Eggplant parmigiana, Traditional Italian meatballs, Cannelloni of the day – all served with fresh tossed garden salad. Indulge also in Quiche of the day, Chicken Jalfrezi served with fragrant basmati rice, or the Butter chicken with rice.
And where does the intriguing name come from?Ben and Rachael shared a dream for opening a café/foodstore for years. While working on a super yacht called “Bossy Boots” Ben and Rachael travelled from San Diego through British Colombia and spent the summer in Alaska. This was a memorable trip and the couple decided to come home to further their dream.
Ben says, “Most of the time the conversation was about food, but one night the topic of the business name came up. We both had quite a few glasses of red, so neither of us can remember who first suggested “Bossy Boots.” We both thought it was kind of catchy and probably quite fitting for the suburb of Brighton.”
Bossy Boots is an iconic café with its own style, creating a convivial hub that is unique to Brighton and Melbourne.
Hard Pressed, 76 Wellington Parade East Melbourne - Food 8 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9
Hard Pressed is a refreshing addition to the Melbourne cafe scene with a Latino influenced menu, stunning fit out using recycled materials, a plethora of exotic plants, and first class coffee. Having worked in Jolimont in a previous life, The World Loves Melbourne knows how this precinct has struggled for decent coffee and a killer cafe fit out. Hard Pressed serves up some of the best coffee in Melbourne and since opening late 2014 they have not looked back. The World Loves Melbourne has visited a couple of times and each experience has been spot on.
The World Loves Melbourne loves the plethora of exotic plants, timbers and white tiles, and the odd quirky piece. The design has come together under the influence of Mimi-Myrtle + Co of Spotswood and builder Callum Wallace. With split levels, you can choose to hang near the large windows overlooking iconic East Melbourne, or step up to the top level where there's a jungle mural on the wall. Owner Phil Gijsbers has tried to make the cafe an extension of the nearby Fitzroy Gardens, hence the plants theme. Hard Pressed somehow reminded The World Loves Melbourne of the film Casablanca (with Humphrey Bogart) with the whites and exotic palms.
Gijsbers previously ran Station St Cafe in Nunawading for four years, another cafe we have frequented - and if you can make a cafe work in the outer eastern suburbs you can make it work anywhere.
Muffins and bagels delight for those who want a light breakfast or just a little something with their coffee.
A breakfast and lunch highlight is the Hard Pressed famous Cuban sandwich "El Cubano" featuring 12 hour slow cooked charred pork neck, with citrus, mustard, Swiss cheese and pickle, between two lightly toasted buns.
The El Cubano was flavour intense and tangy, with a generous portion of the pork neck. The World Loves Melbourne found this to be a rewarding breakfast and one of the best sandwiches in Melbourne.
Hard Pressed offer coffee sophistication with its French press, pour overs and cold drips, using coffee from Axil Roasters in Hawthorn. After dipping our toes in the water with a latte we progressed to the pour over. The Ethiopian pourover (below) was a sensation. The rich fruity flavour of the coffee burst forth on the palate as I imbibed. Our pour over arrived steaming, as you can see in the photo.
The menu is the masterstroke of Jay Van Rhee, ex Seven Seeds and De Cleiu. Here you can build your own breakfast. As we were in a hurry to get to a meeting at Melbourne Museum the Breakfast Bagel delighted as a light breakfast option.
After visiting Hard Pressed a couple of times I noticed the busyness of the cafe, with mums with prams, group catch ups and solitary diners enjoying this exciting ambience in East Melbourne. There's also something about exposed brick and naked bulbs.
How good is it when your coffee arrives with tasting notes attached. Ethiopian Irgacheffe coffee in all its glory... Hard Pressed also impresses with its use of plants and foliage. It gives the feel of an exotic cafe hidden away from the bustle of the city.
Exotic undertones with cement blocks, recycled timbers, jungle mural, rambling exposed brick, quirky pans, naked bulbs and plants.
Recycling overdrive here with floorboards from an old primary school. Tabletops come from an old paper mill. And the antique dough maker is a talking point. Throw Agaves, palms and ferns into the equation and you have exotic central. Hard Pressed is a friendly cafe with helpful staff, even when the pressure is on and the place is packed to the rafters. The El Cubano was made available to me for breakfast (normally lunch menu), and I noted the 7 or so other sandwich choices. Thanks Hard Pressed for your flexibility. Hard Pressed has one of the best ambiences of a cafe in Melbourne and the locals are loving it. Hard Pressed is a chic and impressive cafe on the edge of the city, well worth a visit. Get your Cuban on!
The Foodrinkery - 22 Banksia St Burwood - Food 9 Coffee 9 Ambience 9.5
Looking for cafes in the eastern suburbs? The cafe is a hero of the burbs and is a high achiever in an area with few other cafes. Bright, light and airy, and food on point. The World Loves Melbourne noted a stready stream of locals through the day, and the cafe is extra busy on weekends. This is a place to catch up with friends and relax in the tranquil and stylish setting.
The Foodrinkery boats a stunning outdoor area next to a lush park...
Decor is a touch eclectic with an impressive mural displayed in the courtyard. It depicts The Foodrinkery in a dreamy scene with slices of Greece and Italy, boats and beach. The courtyard is fabulous; sit back in a spacious area with abundance of potted plants and scenes of the park next door.
Popular here is the Croissant from legendary Noisette Bakery; plain with butter or have it with Ham off the bone and Swiss cheese. Or grab one of the popular Muffins freshly baked daily; with a coffee of course!
The food here is impressive with brunch dishes a strength. The Avocado Toast comes with smashed avocado on quality bread (2 pieces of course) with Meredith goats cheese and chilli, avocado oil, with slice of lemon on the side. Creamy tasty goodness, and we are big fans of Meredith goats cheese having eaten this product for so long and having met some of the company representatives at the Australian Dairy Awards.
Feeling extra hungry? With any of the brunch dishes you can add sides such as salmon and bacon and extra egg.
A famous dish is the Chermoula Eggs; smashed pumpkin, grilled zucchini, two free range poached eggs with chermoula dressing. Wholesome and delicious.
Another fabulous breakfast dish is the FD Benny; an inventive eggs benedict dish with House-made waffle, 12 hours slow cooked pulled beef, two poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and herbs. The pulled beef is inside the waffle for a hearty brunch.
Pouring the coffee; check out the hanging pots and cups, inddor plants and the large shiny red La Marzocco.
The Display Cabinet is full of tasty treats such as these slices and cakes.
For healthy eating the Salad of the day is an attractive option. Breakfast mueslis and healthy style desserts are a great "on the go" option.
Decor is playful and eclectic including the model planes, old ladder with naked bulb lighting wrapped around the ladder, artwork on the walls, and long communal table.
The Foodrinkery's quirky decor enhances the charm of this cafe.
The Foodrinkery is a hero of Burwood and a favourite of locals; but also worth making a detour for a fabulous family friendly cafe.
One Plus Piece - 266 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn - Food 9 Coffee 9 Ambience 9.5
Eastern suburbs cafes are on the rise! A great example is One Plus Piece Cafe, located in a premium pocket of Whitehorse Road in Balwyn, with banks, eateries and high end shops surrounding. This is th eonly Japanese anime cafe in Melbourne we know of! Playful and fun but serious cafe offerings.
The decor at One Plus Piece Cafe is lively with an assortment of figurines displayed on the wall, animation characters painted on one wall, posters, plants, books and other quirky objects, as Melbourne loves all things quirk. Playful and fun!
We love the vibe here. Energetic young owner Yvette has created an artistic space with a plethora of small plants a welcome complement. The menu developed by passionate Head Chef Cain caters for a variety of tastes; the cafe serves up compelling burgers, moorish dumplings, imaginative breakfasts, and a series of healthier style dishes.
The coffee here is also on song, and unique offerings include Matcha green organic tea as an espresso. More antioxidant!
Here is Cain making a Matcha espresso...
Burgers? One Plus Piece Cafe is super popular for its burgers; we enjoyed the Angas beef and cheese burger in a brioche bun with beetroot relish, tomato, lettuce, bacon, mustard and aoli. The balance of the burger was excellent and for us the burger was full of flavour. The richness of the Angas beef was evident in a seasoned patty. The burger was mouth watering with right amount of sauces, and some kick. Fresh lettuce was crispy, as was the bacon. The brioche brought a hint of sweetness and the gherkin on top was a nice touch. Presentation was superb on a board with pirate flag and golden chips.
Check this massive One Plus Double Chilli burger (with extra patty to make it three). This burger scored an imtressive 7.7 on the Burgers of Melbourne index.
One Plus Piece also impressed with its Portobello Mushroom burger. Once again this was presented inside a brioche bun and the large portobello mushroom was lightly crumbed. We found this to be extremely satisfying with a creamy nuance; some places have the large mushroom acting as the bun but we love the portobello mushroom inside the brioche!
These burgers are One Plus Piece Cafe are not greasy affairs; but clean and flavoursome and well presented.
One Plus Piece is spacious with a welcome feel, including a hidden gem courtyard out the back (just walk along the path to the back of the cafe).
Breakfast options are compelling including the Eggs Benedict with the twist of slow cooked 12 hour braised pulled beef and poached eggs with house made hollandaise sauce for a hearty start to the day. One of the best eggs benedict dishes in Melbourne.
Acclaims are also for the Mr Franky Roti dish with fried eggs, cheese, guac, smoked ham and tomato salsa; surely one of the best breakfast dishes in Melbourne.
One Plus Piece also excels when it comes to healthy dishes; with a compelling selection of nutritious offerings such as the Ancient Grains Salad with pumpkin, sweet potato, kale, sesame vinaigrette, black quinoa, barley and sunflower seeds, with sous vide chicken or smoked salmon. A cracker healthy dish showcasing whole foods naturally.
Also check out the Matcha Tea; with loads of health benefits including more antioxidants than green tea.
One Plus Piece embraces Melbourne quirk but delivers on its cafe choices...
The display cabinet is full of fresh cafe treats including cakes, croissants and sandwiches...
One Plus Piece Cafe in Balwyn is a breath of fresh air on the Whitehorse Road strip with Yvette and Cain bringing their passion and verve with first class cafe options.
CH James - 86 Station St Fairfield
CH James, a trio of festive spaces, has launched in Station Street Fairfield. Locals are keen to experience the modern menu and character of the venue, which includes a stunning outdoor courtyard. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to experience CH James and some of its signature dishes. The ambience here is a standout, with large welcoming windows and bright spaces, giving a feel of light and airy. Fascinating farm implements adorn the wall, a reference to the period of CH James and heritage. The fit out is such that the indoors and outdoors meets seamlessly, with the windows opening up to accommodate the coffee bars, and its an easy stroll to the courtyard.
CH James is modern but features a nod to yesteryear with its compelling story of local CH James who was prominent in the northern suburbs in the halcyon period of Melbourne's development. Charles Henry James was a businessman extraordinaire in the 1870s and 1880s, and hugely influential in forming the unique community dynamic of the north we love today. Dreamer, innovator and fiercely local, CH James was an influencer who was keen to “have a go”, connect with his community and he conducted his business with distinctive flair. CH James became a model and mentor to young businessmen of the era.
CH James represented the interests of the northern community in the Legislative Council and was a champion of Fairfield, Alphington and Thornbury as well as suburbs such as Essendon, Brunswick and Flemington. CH James was also a man of style and could be spotted handsomely gowned in his silk brocade with heliotrope ribbon and fine diamonds with spangled sleeves. Hipster and fashionable. CH James and his wife Harriette were keen supporters of local charities, community projects and help to the underprivileged.
Station Street has its own place in Melbourne history. With diversity and an eclectic vibe, Station Street is quintessentially Melbourne. CH James spent much of his time on Station St Fairfield and in 1884 established a horse tramway, which ran the length of Station Street. We think this is very Melbourne.
CH James is well equipped with a coffee bar that faces iconic Station Street. Customers can pull up to the bar for top notch Small Batch coffee. The World Loves Melbourne sampled two lattes perfectly made with fine latte art to boot.
Service here is excellent with Chris Krambias and the team personable and on their game. Chris has extensive experience in hospitality at top hotels such as the Park Hyatt in Melbourne and has a flair for service excellence.
CH James features an interesting and fine brunch and lunch menu, with smart food at a standard well above general cafe fare.
Coffee here is excellent and served in proper glassware. CH James spent time sourcing the best sugar to match its specialist coffee, and uses Coconut blossom sugar, which features a slightly caramelised taste.
Drinks list includes Small Batch coffee, Mork chocolate, and Tea by Chamellia. Wine list includes boutique World Loves Melbourne favourites, Maddens Rise and Medhurst, as well as other boutique wines. Another favourite is Pizzini Prosecco, our favourite Australian Prosecco. Craft beers are sourced from Victoria, including Hargreaves Hill and Holgate Brewhouse. An interesting option is Lager from Keo, Cyprus.
CH James has developed an amazing courtyard area next to a church, featuring plantings of fruit trees and fresh herbs, used in its cooking. Check out the chilli plant thriving in its large planting box.
Auction Rooms , 103-107 Errol St North Melbourne – Café - Food 8.5 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9
Auction Rooms is a standout café in Melbourne and exudes industrial chic as well as being a serious coffee haven. Housed in the old WB Ellis Auction House it is an oasis of coffee perfection in trendy North Melbourne. Loads of serious coffee lovers descend on Auction Rooms in its accessible location on Errol Street.
It’s famous for its serious coffee but Auction Rooms also serves great food! Hearty interesting meals are prepared with flair. The menu selections feature inventive names playing with the auction theme such as “opening bid” (two free range poached eggs on sourdough with bacon, field mushroom, grilled tomato and sautéed spinach on Dench sourdough) and “shady deal” (Moroccan style tomato and chorizo stew with eggplant served with poached eggs, olives, dukkah and feta and flatbread).
At lunchtime the Roasted pork belly served on a corn crepe with coffee BBQ sauce is a popular menu item. Then there are the fine cakes to go with that coffee!
There are so many dining areas here such as the outside street tables, the high stools at the bar, the small tables in the lower level, the communal table behind the counter and the courtyard.
Auction Rooms is a powerhouse café in a coffee mad city. Well worth a visit as a great example of the Melbourne coffee scene.
Stagger Lees , 276 Brunswick St Fitzroy - Food 9.5 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9.5
Some menus feature "must haves" and the menu at Stagger Lees has a compelling Mork chocolate milkshake for the discerning.
Stagger Lees is the brainchild of the folk at iconic Proud Mary in Collingwood. Many would know the song about the muderous dude who murders over a hat. In Brunswick St this may be a vintage hat or some cowboy boots. In any case the Americana theme at Proud Mary continues on at Stagger Lees.
He wore rat-drawn shoes and an old stetson hat
Had a '28 ford, had payments on that
- from Nic Cave version of the song Stagger Lee, very Brunswick...
The menu selections are all appealing here. My friends are health conscious but when Mike saw the Fat Bacon Toastie featuring Apple wood smoked bacon, gruyere fondue, fried egg served with winter greens and chutney, he was hooked. The toastie was served with eggs on top open style. This dish would impress Elvis.
Having eaten scores of burgers around Melbourne I found the Stack & Billy Burger to be one of the best around. A chart topper featuring Black Angus shin patty, bacon, American mustard, catsup, aioli, pickles and cheddar served with bacon croquettes and greens. The balance of flavours is perfect. The patty is magical. Brioche buns are a great texture and mild sweetness. Much thought has gone into this burger including killer aoli, quality pickles and cheddar. Please remind me to put this burger in my "Best burgers of Melbourne" section. Kudos to Head Chef Chris Hamburger (do I say the obvious?)...
The burger comes with amazing creamy croquettes that are almost a meal in themselves. When I said to the waitress, "Wow, I didn't realise these amazing croquettes come with the burger!" she said "Read the damn menu." But she said it in a playful kind of way that didn't offend. Banter in Brunswick...
So we ordered two of the Toasties... And we love the T-shirt behind the dish. Subtle branding. Triology of dude food from Stagger Lees...
My Canadian friends Mike and Deb are familiar with Vancouver (the other most liveable city) and are taking mental notes re cafes in Melbourne. (Suitably) impressed.
The fit out at Stagger Lees is stunning with large windows looking out to the prime of Brunswick St, exposed brick rustic look, concrete floor, as well as savvy timberwork and retro chairs and modern cabinets (with tasty treats). Spot the hipster at Stagger Lees.
Stagger Lees also has a liquor license. If it wasn't for the Mork chocolate milkshake this would have been our preferred source of refreshment.
As for coffee this place offers only the best - check out the single origins on the board. Come here and you'll find Stagger Lees to be a keeper...
Three Bags Full , Nicholson Street Abbotsford – Café - Food 8.5 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9
Three Bags Full is a Melbourne darling and one of our more eminent cafes. The vibe on a pumping Saturday brunch time is fabulous. Its another foodie haven and the coffee is seriously excellent.
Image: Three Bags Full Facebook. The colour scheme suggested I was in Richmond (bright yellows) but we were in fact in Abbotsford. Great ambience here. Walk in and immediately fall in love with this place. Three Bags Full boasts a large open space and natural light. Plenty of tables but often they are packed. Wondered whether the name Three Bags Full had anything to do with it always being packed out. Love the long communal table which people seem to gravitate to.
These guys are passionate about coffee and provide a great selection. They provide pour over, Clover and single origin offerings. I’m happy to come here just for the coffee and even line up for the privilege. Knowing they use Five Senses is comforting.
This ex warehouse is very cool and features polished floors and exposed brick. This may lend to a noisy room but who cares, I’m into that. Venture outside to enjoy the ambience of the precinct at small tables.
Three Bags Full a great name as one of the best breakfast/brunch places around. These guys cook the eggs perfectly and serve everything on quality bread. Interesting options ranging from killer muesli to the big breakfast to a delightful remoulade. And not forgetting the Veggie breakfast.
Great stories of people waiting half an hour for a table. It’s not like there’s heaps to do nearby in the neighbourhood of leafy Abbotsford. So good commitment. Tried one Saturday to come with a group last minute, but the estimated wait time was imposing.
Three bags Full is also a great option for breakfast on the way to work in the city. Love the friendly service. Busy, busy, busy – but still attentive and personable staff. When paying or just ordering coffee you're invariably standing in line and eying off their gourmet products to take away.
Three Bags Full is a stellar cafe that continues to shine.
Pellegrini’s Expresso Bar , 66 Bourke St Melbourne – Café - Food 8 Coffee 9 Ambience 9
Pellegrini’s, a Melbourne icon, puts a big smile on my face. It's easy to fall in love with Pellegrini's as it exudes so much charm and nostalgia. Classico! Often misunderstood in a sea of nouveau cafes and restaurants, Pellegrini’s is unique.
It feels like ‘real’ Melbourne with its history and standing. I’ve been there a few times and love it. Where else can you go for such quality banter, home cooking and strong coffee?
I tried entering Pellegrini’s very early one morning and couldn’t get in the door. That’s right! The owner (I think it was), came and unlocked the door and showed me in! That was cool.
First the coffee. I asked for a latte (in one size glass) and was poured something with an extremely dark colour - telling me this one is as strong as steel. I love a strong coffee. I asked the barista whether this was a triple shot? “No” he said, “nothing to do with shots. It’s about the blend and the way it's made. If the shots are no good the coffee is no good – so what’s the point of shots?” You gotta love that philosophy.
I then asked whether the Pellegrini’s blend was a particularly strong blend? “Yes!” the barista said. Pellegrini’s use Vittoria coffee. I then saw the picture of Al Pacino (the Vittoria representative) on the wall. Underneath it said “We know coffee.” This was macho coffee territory. In fact I could imagine Al Pacino in Pellegrini’s knocking back a strong coffee or two and delivering a few macho quips.
Then the barista went on to show me the way Pellegrini’s coffee is made. “See this”, he said pointing to my coffee. “See the colour is dark”, he said, running his finger down the glass. “See I put not as much milk in the coffee. Less milk makes it stronger.” I had to smile as I love a creamy latte – but I had to again recognise the philosophy of Pellegrini’s. Nouveau coffee establishments may come and go but Pellegrini’s belts out it’s no nonsense strong coffee for decade after decade. Nothing flowery or cute here!
I cheekily asked about the coffee machine – whether it was the original – and of course it isn’t. “We’ve had a few over the years”, the barista said. This latest one is apparently eight years old – almost new in Pellegrini’s lifetime.
Ordering breakfast was also classic. I asked about the menu and the barista told me they do a simple breakfast and something about bacon and eggs. So I said “I’ll have the bacon and eggs then.” The barista looked at me and said, “No, something simple, we don’t do bacon and eggs!” I smiled. That’s cool. What do you suggest? He recommended a salami and cheese toasted sandwich. That was fine by me!
Plenty of regulars grace Pellegrini’s in the mornings. Some of them speak to the barista in Italian. I can only make out a few words like “bongiorno!” and “ciao”! A hilarious conversation took place between the barista and a lady customer in Italian. I kept hearing a word in English, interspersed in the conversation, which caught my attention. The barista and the owner nearby realised I must be wondering what was being said! The commotion and laughter and interaction between staff and customers that ensued was highly amusing. I doubt whether this delightful cameo would have ever taken place in a nouveau café?
Nostalgia everywhere! Love the long bar area with the iconic stools, and the mirrors along the other wall (also with iconic stools). Love the memorabilia on the shelves with celebrities posing with Pellegrini’s.
Pellegrini’s is a classic Italian espresso bar in Melbourne. Sometimes misunderstood you need to appreciate it for what it is rather than what it isn’t! They do pasta and delightful Italian treats well… I still have smile on my face! Ciao! Ciao! And Pellegrini’s really knows coffee!
Seven Seeds , 106-114 Berkeley St Carlton – Café - Food 8 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9
Seven Seeds is credited as being a highly influential coffee powerhouse that has shaped the coffee culture of Melbourne over many years. The World Loves Melbourne believes Seven Seeds is better than ever and continues to shine its love and significant influence on the cafe and coffee scene.
Seven Seeds is one of those Melbourne institutions we can take for granted. Walk along a nondescript street in Carlton that appears quiet and sleepy. Then stumble upon a packed house of uber coffee lovers at an unspectacular entrance almost devoid of signage (apart from a painted name on the wall).
Seven Seeds is a super passionate roastery and cafe. The lab here indicates the seriousness and passion for all things coffee. Seven Seeds never stands still but moves on ever evolving. The quality of coffee here shows no hint of dropping off, unlike some others that have diminished over the years. The coffee menu features Seven Seeds roasted coffee of course!
We visited Seven Seeds with friends from Canada (also a great coffee culture) to show them Melbourne's finest.
A converted warehouse, Seven Seeds features large amounts of exposed brick, tiles, concrete floor, mounted bikes, and the large windows allow plenty of natural light. They even led the way in cafe fit outs with many since copying the Seven Seeds look. With universities nearby Seven Seeds attracts its fair share of students. It's an eclectic mix here of the young and fashionable.
The menu at Seven Seeds has never been more exciting (and all day breakfast baby). The World Loves Melbourne believes the standard of food matches the peerless standard of coffee. Check out The Elvis french toast stuffed w/ banana caramel, whipped peanut butter and shards of candied bacon. Decadent and spot on. Have to love the candied bacon (tell yourself the acidity of the coffee cuts through all this dude food)...
Would you think of Seven Seeds in the hunt for Melbourne's best burgers? Well they should be. Several of us ordered the burger and all raved. Juicy with quality patty, right amount of salad, and curly fries to die for... Not to mention Eggs benedict on English muffins with prosciutto, hollandaise and rocket...
Then its down to serious pour over coffee. My first coffee was the entree. The Panama Pour Over (only $6) just explodes with flavour across your palate. Served with tasting notes like a fine wine. One of the best coffee experiences of my life - and there's been many thousand...
Staff were excellent and accomodated our group of 16 on a Saturday morning - we even secured a large table for the whole group. This place gets packed on a weekend and you can expect some sort of wait - but hey after all these years Seven Seeds is still super popular. Seven Seeds has close ties with its growers and sources the best coffee. We note Seven Seeds has been inducted into the Herald Sun Coffee Hall of Fame. Shine on Seven Seeds, keep evolving and leading the way...
The Little Mule Cycle Co. and Cafe , Somerset Place – café - Food 8.5 Coffee 9 Ambience 9
Image: Little Mule Facebook. One of my favourites in Melbourne! Want to keep coming back! Visited Little Mule spontaneously for lunch with with my mate Shane. Off the beaten track this was a gem! Located in Somerset Lane you could say Little Mule is part of the coffee triangle with amazing cafes nearby... This one is unique and up there with the best of them...
I love the diversity of Melbourne cafes. The vibe is enhanced by the tables and cosy lounges... This is not the house of pretense but the house of hospitality.
Great coffee from hipster but friendly baristas. Keen for a chat it's not just the coffee that does the talking. Adds to the ambience. And some of the best coffee around.
The food matches the standard of coffee... Some tasty sangas with decent seed filled bread! Shane enjoyed his fresh tasty baguette. Was going for the hot chorizo dish but the rice cooker was on the blink. Didn't care. Simple but great food...
Time for a second visit… Loved the breakfast here. Asked about popular breakfast choices by friendly staff and was recommended the Baked Eggs. Also recommended the Avocado on toast. So I went for both! The baked eggs came in a piping hot ceramic bowl/tray and it was superb! Also melted cheese in the mix. The secret tomato mix was incredible featuring quality deep red tomatoes with a bit of a kick. This was a great breakfast option! And the avocado was also great sliced and arranged on two pieces of quality seeded bread. Coffee was brilliant again!
Noticed early morning breakfast crowd congregating to the communal table rather than all the individual tables. Love the cool black couch in the corner – for romantics or for therapy? Many also like to sit on stools facing the bar and read the papers provided.
Open for breakfast and lunch...
Brother Baba Budan , Little Bourke – café - Food 8 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9
Extremely popular soul brother café to Seven Seeds and de Clieu. For those that know their coffee history, it was infamous revolutionary Brother Baba who in the 17th C smuggled seven seeds of coffee out of Yemen and into India where the plants thrived. This started a global coffee revolution which has culminated in the sensational coffee scene we see here in Melbourne. BBB is passionate about coffee and in particular specialty coffee.
Look inside the window from Little Bourke and invariably see wall to wall people, some at the communal table reading but many lined up for some of the best coffee in town. Single origins, filters and awesome blends. It always looks like a cool party. Took my friend from Dubai here and he had to concede that Melbourne has such an awesome coffee culture.
A talking piece is always the curious montage of chairs hanging from the ceiling (spectacular but really hard to photograph). I asked a barista if it was ok to photograph and he said a lot of people photograph the ceiling chairs – so I felt better. Limited room in here for many to enjoy a sit down experience – there are a few tables with stools. Most people gravitate to the communal table by the window or indeed the communal table behind the baristas with a selection of cakes and biscuits above.
The star of the show is the coffee. The default is the Seven Seeds blend which is awesome. A smart drinker will order the Coffee of the Day single origin. It makes sense as it is only slightly more expensive.
The food options consist of pastries. A tasty almond croissant. Or how about a ham and cheese croissant for breakfast? Or a gourmet cake? While impressive it's really all about the coffee at BBB and the baristas are on fire here working over the Synesso. They are super friendly (everything is amplified in a small café)! I noticed four staff working hard one morning (two guys and two girls) and had the evil thought that they might actually be Abba seeing the two guys were bearded. My coffee was so creamy with nutty characteristics. So good! You can also purchase Seven Seeds coffee here…
Cool having a mounted ipad playing music selections. The barista decided while I was there one morning to change to the sunshine collection (blend). I thought it might be Mow town but it wasn’t. There's also a retail section here where you can pick up your Aeropress. One of the best!
Manchester Press , 8 Rankins Lane, CBD Food 8.5 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9
Manchester Press is a spacious funky cafe that you'll want to come back to. This deserves to be a global sensation like Manchester United.
Possibly my favourite café in Melbourne - it's agreat place to meet with friends. Another laneway gem where coffee meets art. Manchester Press is part of the coffee triangle (as opposed to the Bermuda Triangle) with nearby places like Brother Baba Budan and Captains of Industry.
This is a huge spacious cafe - a former gallery and named after the former printing press business. Friends of mine remember it's former life - the renovation has been impressive. The mystery is accentuated by the fact that you need to pull back the sliding door to enter.
Coffee here is amazing with highly skilled baristas that have a knack with latte art.
Image: Manchester Press Instagram. This place has a rustic and at times retro feel (check out the menu with old school labels on perspex). Also check out the water jars on tables (with hydrochloric acid labels). Don’t worry the coffee is acidic - but not that acidic! You can really relax here – read the paper and check your emails. Chilled! So relaxed here that a customer went to the bathroom and on passing asked me to protect his back pack and belongings. I passed the test. (I now live in Rio).
The breakfast options including the raisin bagel with jam and ricotta are outstanding – good value and huge dollops of both jam and ricotta. In fact Manchester Press does bagels really well with other options (open sandwich style) and toppings available. I was told by the waitress that all menu options were available at any time – not just divided into breakfast and lunch. And that the menu changes whenever the chef feels like it… But some bagel options are more suitable for breakfast.
The soft egg bagel with salmon breakfast option is a sensation – sounds simple and harmless but it packed a mighty punch! You crack open the top of the soft boiled egg served in a cute egg cup with oriental figurines, then smear soft egg all over your piping hot bagel. Then you place some salmon from the generous pile on the plate on top of your egg and bagel! So gooood! There’s lemon to squeeze over the salmon and a great little salad with lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber - with a killer dressing. Don’t think it’s just about the coffee and the vibe here – check out the simple but awesome food! Coffee here is sensational and of the highest quality! Creamy and comes with amazing latte art (love the coffee meets art theme here).
Came here again for breakfast with the family and we all loved it.
Sensational service every time with staff friendly and willing to explain stuff (interesting they place the bill in a glass on your table). We have a ritual - I keep going to the counter to pay at the end of my meal without producing the bill in the glass – so they go back and grab my bill from the table again. On leaving I noticed a mirror ball mounted high in Rankins lane casting an interesting light array down the lane. All adds to the coffee and the art experience!
The League of Honest Coffee , 8 Exploration, CBD – Food 8 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9
Image: League of Honest Coffee Instagram. One of the best coffee houses in Melbourne with a strong following. This is the crew from East Brunswick Project and Padre Coffee.
After 8am this place seriously hums. I should know - I've been coming here for months. Serious coffee devotees come here for their next fix. As a regular I am yet to receive a poor offering (or dishonest coffee) and always leave this place on a coffee high!
The League of Honest Coffee present great Pour Over and Cold Drip Options. I'm prone to a creamy latte which is a bit old school but these guys do it so well. Love the bowls of coffee. In life I reflect that sometimes bowls of latte lose their punch in the compromise of too much milk! But this is amazing. Here is an important point -The League of Honest Coffee use decent milk in their coffee unlike a lot of cafes. (My barista training taught me that milk quality is a major factor in a great coffee).
My latte comes with this stunning golden colour. This café has a great ambience with a spacious well thought out design and functionality. Love the cool suspended mezzanine feature. Love the use of funky stools and tables. Love the massive communal table by the enormous window! You can spread out with a newspaper....
Love the use of green (is it jade?) and brown. Love the polished grungy concrete floor. Love the wood paneling. Staff are super friendly, skillful and knowledgeable. No-one here is condescending (have you seen the You Tube Coffee Snob clip?).
Image: The League of Honest Coffee Instagram. The League of Honest Coffee totally lives up to its name. It's about the coffee. Single origins are a great way to go and there's plenty of them! This morning I enjoyed Honduras single origin latte with nutty characteristics. The Padre Blend is also amazing and as the barista told me, is extremely flexible when making milk based coffee.
These guys do their own roasting. I took them up on the deal to get a coffee container for $14 then get your first beans for half price. So I took home some of the tantalising Padre blend.
More action behind the counter than finals at the MCG! A large counter/bar area is witness to a throng of baristas and staff passionate about all things coffee. And skilful. Their equipment is amazing and these baristas have more artillery than US Forces - in fact they could win a war with that machinery!
Food options are simple but gourmet. Delectable treats allure behind the cabinet.
Patricia's , Little William Lane – Cafe - Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9.5
Another nondescript entrance greets the coffee lover as you try to find Patricia’s in a laneway next to the 500 Bourke St precinct. Behind that nondescript entrance is a world of serious coffee devotion and a fresh concept from Bowen Holden (ex Seven Seeds) that delivers with class and flair.
The high note is the coffee, which is simplified by the 3 options of black, white and filter. But behind the simple options there is much thought and acumen and the great idea of sourcing the best coffee from popular Melbourne coffee spots. It’s great when you can promote Proud Mary and Seven Seeds in the same breath. Or Market Lane and Small Batch in another.
The philosophy around a 3 options coffee choice is that most white coffees are separated by a degree or two of froth. Yes only 3 options, but the 3 options are great! What is great is if you consume on site they will supply you with decent mineral water, indeed a palate cleanser, which draws parallels with wine tasting.
As there are no tables here it is not a place to linger for hours. It’s tailor made for city workers who have limited time to grab a coffee and head back to meetings and the mountain of emails.
With serious coffee equipment and friendly baristas and an up tempo feel (David Bowie Lets Dance playing over the system), it is hard not to love Patricia Coffee Brewers. Patricia Coffee Brewers is a standout café sure to become many coffee lovers’ new favourite place.
Small Victories , 617 Rathdowne Street Carlton North – Cafe – Food 9 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9
Image: Small Victories Instagram. Small Victories is a stellar cafe in leafy historic North Carlton making its mark. Transformed by Arlic Hansen and Ben Farrant, notable Melbourne culinary identities, Small Victories has been taking Melbourne by storm. Come here for superb gourmet meals, great coffee and excellent ambience. You know its going to be good when a cafe makes its own produce in house - such as the yoghurt and the smoked bacon. It's a cafe that attracts foodies with its clever nuances and flavour combinations. Small Victories rises above the pack in a highly competitive precinct.
Dining is enjoyable with several dining spaces with cosy timber tables and sleek communal sharing tables, stools by the counter or along the window, upstairs dining area with mini skylight/atrium or you can sit outside and enjoy the ambience of Rathdowne Street.
Coffee here is top notch. The lattes have nutty and buttery characteristics and are of a decent strength.
Decor is modern and cool with large naked bulb lighting (revealing a groovy filament), grey couch backing along the upstairs wall with mirror above, a marble bar and great use of timbers. Not too much on the walls giving a sense of modern chic and not old world clutter. Funky music adds to the vibe played on a turntable with vinyl selections.
There is a menu brimming with imagination and flair. The breakfasts are wonderful. The Small Victories mixed grill is sensational with Eggs, bacon, beans, blood pudding, croquette, and two pork sausages.
This is no clumsy fry up or predictable big breakfast. The leek and cheddar croquette was superb and creamy inside and I could have eaten about six. The eggs were perfectly cooked and runny. The sreaky bacon was high quality, smoked and prepared in house. The blood pudding was delicious and served fresh and had some moisture - unlike other black puddings elsewhere which have been dry and caked. And the sausages were gourmet, tasty and not too fatty. The beans were also impressive with gremolata on top. The accompanying toast was also excellent.
Image: Small Victories Instagram. These meals come in terracotta dishes. At the time they'd run out of big plates, so my mixed grill came in two seperate plates - no problem. The small bowl of pink salt placed on the table with the meal was a nice gourmet touch.
Or you may want to try the Granola with elderflower, poached rhubarb, lychee, organic yoghurt and berry powder. Small Victories also excels with its lunch selections including gourmet soup, pastas and sandwiches. Small Victories is a super impressive and chic foodie haven that excites.
Hardware Societe , 120 Hardware Street, CBD – Cafe – Food 9.5 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9.5
Hardware Societe is a great place to go for a Sunday morning lazy breakfast in Melbourne. It captivates with French sophistication and charm, and a high quality dining experience.
If you’re looking for a restaurant that’s able to offer something more than the usual brunch options, with a certain je ne sais quois, then Hardware Societe is the place for you!
Any restaurant worthwhile in Melbourne may involve a table wait and I’ve gladly waited for 20 minutes for a table at Hardware Societe. Spectacular news is that Hardware Societe are now spreading out and have taken over the building next door. The revolution is spreading!
All eyes are on the white uniformed rock star chefs with awesome tattoos who perform wonders in the kitchen for all to see... Each dish has amazing flair and bathed in TLC. There is a French attention to detail!
After a big night out you may prefer the Banana bread with caramel and crushed nougat. Or Fried brioche with nutella, strawberries and toasted hazelnuts. And there are daily specials.
Even the sourdough fruit toast is sensational, served in a pretty arrangement on a wooden board with an extraordinary amount of butter. And it comes with a cute butter knife…
Be impressed by the communal table and chic plastic chairs. Where space is at a premium they’re functional but also can be fashionable.
The décor has a cool factor to a sublime degree including damask dark wallpaper imported from Germany and interesting lighting arrangements with naked bulbs. The whole place has an upbeat colourful feel to it...
Coffee here is also great and sometimes underrated. The crema is velvet, and the coffee showing superb consistency, flavour and strength. A nice touch is the small round donut that comes with each coffee.
Service is fantastic with hipster staff wearing aprons to set a French tome. They are both engaging and attentive. Open for breakfast and lunch but not dinner. Popular and a talking point around Melbourne. Rightly so!