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Hard Pressed An Exotic Cafe Ramping Things Up in East Melbourne



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.

Here is another photo of my pour over. How good is it when your coffee arrives with tasting notes attached. Ethiopian Irgacheffe coffee in all its glory...

Irgacheffe is a town in central southern Ethiopia an an important coffee hub. The sweet flavors and aromas of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee are its strongest asset along with a medium to light body. Overall the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee is very spicy and fragrant, often with a slightly chocolaty or nutty quality. Subtleties include notes of citrus or tangerine (which is why it is often preferred for iced coffee).

These beans undergo a wet processing. The wet processing of coffee beans involves first washing off the coffee fruit (coffee cherry) in order to remove and fleshy or fruity material on the fruit. This is done right after harvest while the fruit is still moist. This is done to remove the pulp from the Ethiopian Yirgacheffee coffee fruit and then the next step is to remove the mucilage through the process known as fermentation. Typically the coffee beans are soaked in water in order to soften the fleshy material and then they are de-pulped and placed in a fermentation tank in order to remove the mucilage. The benefits of wet processing are that it produces what is termed as a “clean cup” of brewed coffee. The benefit of a clean cup of coffee is that the acidity allows the coffee to “shine.” 

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!

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