Melbourne has long been considered a global leader when it comes to specialty coffee, and its coffee shops and cafés are no different. Roasters have been improving their approach to the technical aspects of sourcing, preparing, and consuming coffee, and coffee shops have updated their offerings to meet local tastes, as trends lean towards more adventurous and eco-conscious options.
It’s no surprise then, that former World Barista Champion Pete Licata once said that it’s nearly impossible to find a bad cup of coffee in Melbourne.
Whilst the city is saturated with places where you can experience a great cup of coffee and satisfy your daily caffeine needs, the following five coffee shops would be a good place to start your exploration of what Melbourne’s coffee scene has to offer.
The coffee counter at The Hardware Société. Credit: Charlotte Avent
With over 1600 cafés and restaurants in the city of Melbourne alone, it would take you several months to visit every coffee shop in the area – let alone select the ones with a noteworthy specialty coffee offering. Choosing just five of them was no easy feat, and 2020 will no doubt introduce plenty more coffee shops to Melbourne, and Australia in general.
The following five have been selected based on my personal experiences, as I’ve found them to offer an inclusive experience where you can immerse yourself in your surroundings, while appreciating the passion that goes into creating a cup of coffee.
Alex Zielke serves customers at Bonnie Coffee’s Collins Street branch. Credit: Charlotte Avent
Bonnie Coffee was founded by Melburnians Alex Zielke and Lloyd Smith, and has locations in both Melbourne and Sydney. Their philosophy is to “do one thing, and do it well”, and you can witness this in action by visiting their Collins Street branch. Located in a heritage-listed building, they offer business people and passersby a pit stop, where they can experience five minutes of calm, and a friendly greeting from staff members.
Take time to catch up on the latest news while you wait for your order, as each day’s newspaper will be pinned against the wall. Alternatively, feel free to ask staff members questions, as they’re always open to teaching you a thing or two about how your coffee is being made, and where it comes from.
While they currently source their coffee from producers around the world and roast it themselves, Bonnie Coffee has bigger plans for this year. They’re going to be introducing guest roasters on a quarterly basis, and finding ways to create a more inclusive coffee experience.
|Where||495 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD|
|Atmosphere||Relaxed and calm|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco Linea Classic|
|Grinder||Mazzer Manual Grinders|
|Coffee Offerings||A four bean Bonnie Blend and single origins that rotate depending on the season. Currently, they’re from Ethiopia and El Salvador|
|Must-Try Drink||Try a Cold Drip or Iced Latte in the Summer. Alex’s personal favourite is the espresso|
|Retail Offerings||Purchase your own coffee, which they’ll grind for use on stove top, filter, cold drip, Aeropress, and more. They also sell a small selection of teas|
|Food & Other Drinks||Cookies, cakes, and pastries|
|Nearby Sights||Visit Federation Square for some people watching, or take a stroll down the Southbank and alongside the Yarra River.|
Brunch options at the Hardware Société, paired with matcha and iced lattes. Credit: Charlotte Avent
Boasting a French and Spanish food menu that changes seasonally, The Hardware Société first opened with the primary objective of serving food. Around eight years ago, it extended its offering by teaming up with speciality coffee roasters Padre in East Brunswick to have coffee roasted and supplied to their Melbourne and Paris branches.
They recently moved into new and more spacious premises, with a kitchen four times larger than their previous one, and seating for 110. Head there on a Friday evening to experience a taste of Paris in the heart of Melbourne, where you can enjoy French music, wine on tap, and a selection of European-inspired dishes.
|Where||10 Katherine Place, Melbourne|
|Atmosphere||Bustling and buzzing|
|Espresso Machine||Slayer Steam|
|Grinder||Mazzer and Ditting Grinders|
|Coffee Offerings||In addition to offering Columbian and seasonal blends, you can try the Hey Buddy Blend from Padre Coffee Roasters|
|Must-Try Drink||Try their Signature Mocha, which contains 56% chocolate|
|Retail Offerings||You can purchase No Eggs on Toast, which is a cookbook of their favourite brunch recipes. They also sell jam, nougat, ceramics, and more|
|Food & Other Drinks||Bestsellers include their confit duck pork belly, baked eggs with chorizo sausage, and lobster benedict. They also offer cocktails and boozy tea|
|Nearby Sights||Explore Batman Park, or jump on a boat down the Yarra River. You can also visit the nearby South Melbourne Market|
A standard day at the beautiful Brunswick roastery. Credit: Wide Open Road
Situated in Brunswick, Wide Open Road is an industrial-style specialty coffee roastery and café. Its light, airy and spacious interior features the building’s original brickwork and symmetrical tiling.
Visit the café and you can enjoy a single origin that rotates daily or two espresso blends, batch brew, pour-over options, and cold and iced drinks. You can also choose to sit at a communal table to participate in conversation, or a cosy booth for privacy or quiet time.
Wide Open Road sources, roasts, and blends their own coffee – a range of which can be purchased from their website.
|Where||274 Barkly Street, Brunswick|
|Atmosphere||Laidback and inviting|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco PB, Fetco|
|Grinder||Mazzer Robur and Mahlkönig EK43 Grinders|
|Coffee Offerings||Try their Nitro Cold Brew, which comes in a can|
|Must-Try Drink||Espresso, filter, with milk or black – take your pick!|
|Retail Offerings||You can purchase coffee, brewing equipment, and merchandise designed by in-house designer Adam Parata. You can also get coffee delivered to your door every two weeks with a subscription|
|Food & Other Drinks||There are vegan and omnivore options, as well as beers and mimosas|
|Nearby Sights||Visit the nearby Princess Park to sit in the sun and people watch|
A barista brews coffee, while customers observe. Credit: Aunty Pegs
Covering two stories, Aunty Pegs is a coffee bar that also doubles as a roasting house, events space, retail shop, and barista training centre. On any given day, you can find three single origin coffees being showcased, according to a theme that changes every month.
With free weekly community cupping events taking place on Saturdays, visitors can try out a new micro-lots, seasonal blend, or staff favourite. As for the coffee, each one available can be consumed as espresso, filter, or cold drip.
If you want to give home brewing a try, you can also try out a variety of brewing devices such as V60 and AeroPress in store before you purchase them.
|Where||200 Wellington Street, Collingwood|
|Atmosphere||Warm and inclusive|
|Espresso Machine||Three custom-built Single Group Synessos|
|Grinder||Four Mahlkönig EK43 grinders|
|Coffee Offerings||Three varieties from Honduran producer Nahun Fernande are currently being showcased, with upcoming offerings to come from Panama|
|Must-Try Drink||Try the SnapChill, a method for producing cleaner cold coffee with nitro, conceptualised by Director Nolan Hirte|
|Retail Offerings||A variety of manual brewing devices are available for purchase|
|Food & Other Drinks||A variety of cakes and cookies are available|
|Nearby Sights||Explore the neighbourhood of Collingwood, which has many roasteries, bars, restaurants, and galleries to explore|
Sparkling Cold Brew being poured from a beer tap. Credit: Plug Nickel
Plug Nickel first set up base in 2016, and they’re open from Wednesday until Sunday, into the evenings, to serve customers. Their coffee comes from Canberra-based roaster ONA, and they also offer beverages on the go via a takeaway window for speedy delivery.
If you do decide to enter the premises, you can take a seat and try out Owner and Chef Tyler Preston’s small but curated menu created for you to eat exclusively by hand. Alternatively, you can spend an evening sipping a nitro-charged espresso martini, cold beer, or natural wine from their extensive collection.
|Where||7 Peel Street, Collingwood|
|Atmosphere||Cool and comfortable|
|Espresso Machine||Two Anfim Scodys|
|Grinder||Mahlkönig EK43 Grinder|
|Coffee Offerings||ONA coffee is served, as well as an Ethiopian blend comprising of three different origins: Ethiopia Red (Natural), Ethiopia White (Washed), and Ethiopia Indigo (Carbonic Maceration)|
|Must-Try Drink||Try the Sparkling Cold Brew|
|Retail Offerings||250g bag of coffee beans, homemade chilli jam, and hot sauces are on offer|
|Food & Other Drinks||Try the sparkling Cascara on tap, or a hot toddy, hot chocolate, or chai|
|Nearby Sights||Spend some time exploring Collingwood, which has a rich arts and culture scene|
Luna Park in Melbourne.
Coffee culture in Melbourne is laid-back and relaxed, with each coffee shop offering you a chance to start a conversation or take five minutes to watch the world go by. Here, you’ll find people who are passionate about educating customers on how their coffee has arrived in their cup, and what it’s all about.
With creativity, expertise, and precision behind the seed to cup process a common feature in most places you step foot in – wherever you go, you won’t be disappointed.
Article written by Charlotte Avent. Feature photo: A barista prepares a coffee at Wide Open Road. Feature photo credit: Wide Open Road