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What is the history of Melbourne brunch culture?

The history of brunch in Melbourne can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the concept of brunch first emerged in Europe and North America. The word "brunch" was first coined in England in 1895, and initially referred to a combination of breakfast and lunch foods served in the late morning.

In Melbourne, brunch became popular in the early 20th century as a way for people to socialize and enjoy a leisurely meal on weekends. During this time, cafes and restaurants began offering brunch menus, and the trend quickly caught on.

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Cumulus from back in the day.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Melbourne saw a resurgence in brunch culture, with the rise of cafes serving specialty coffee and brunch foods. This trend was driven by a growing appreciation for good food and coffee, as well as a desire for a more relaxed, leisurely dining experience.

As we approached 2010 the Melbourne brunch scene was well and truly established and leading the way in Australia. Cafes like Cumulus Inc. and Hardware Societe, Manchester Press and others, paved the way for brunch as an elevated dining experience. Not just bacon and eggs but dishes with plenty of technique, using local and seasonal ingredients. 

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Cocktails became a part of Melbourne brunch and now we see Bottomless Brunch options with beverage packages.

For a while we saw staples such as Smashed avo on toast dominate the scene, but in recent years we've seen more diversity. Japanese and Sri Lankan cafes, for example, have enhanced the scene with greater diversity. How about a Sri Lankan Hopper for breakfast? At the height of brunch scene, we saw many cafes with line ups on the weekend.

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Cafes like Feast of Merit arrived with a penchant for healthier cafe dishes.

Today, brunch has become a staple in Melbourne's food culture, and the city is widely regarded as one of the world's great brunch destinations. Melbourne is home to a thriving cafe culture, with numerous cafes and restaurants offering a wide range of brunch options, from traditional breakfast foods to more innovative and eclectic dishes. Having travelled to several major world cities, it's apparent the Melbourne brunch culture is unique. For example, while there are more choices these days, the Singapore brunch culture isn't really a "thing".

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The rise of the barista as a rock star.

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Brunch dishes have become an art form, particularly with the rise of platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok.

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Cafes like Higher Ground set the benchmark in terms of a stylish atmospheric venue.

The history of brunch in Melbourne is a reflection of the city's rich food culture and its love for top notch food and coffee. Brunch has become a beloved tradition in Melbourne, and the city is known for its diverse and delicious brunch offerings, which are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.