Posts Tagged ‘cafes’


A Year of Coffee in Melbourne

Short Black at Padre CoffeeA week is a long time in football, and in a city as fascinated with coffee as it is with football, a year is an eternity in the world of cafes. Today marks the 1st birthday of Seven Seeds, one of the superstars of coffee in Melbourne. Happy Birthday Seven Seeds.

It is amazing to think that since the opening of Seven Seeds there have been so many other great coffee shop openings. So many in fact that Seven Seeds feels as though it is one of the “old boys.” It will be fascinating to see how the “scene” evolves over the next year.

Putting it all into context I’ve constructed something of a timeline of the last years specialty coffee shop openings. The dates aren’t exact (and I would welcome corrections) but they are pretty close.

Cafes opening aren’t the only thing that has happened in the last year either, the blog coverage of cafes in Melbourne has gone through the roof with the usual suspects spending as much time reviewing cafes as restaurants. There is one specialty coffee blog though that has been providing an attempt at objective reviews of the coffee being served across the city. Backseat Baristas is doing a great job and can only get better as they refine the concept.

Like in so many other facets of life Twitter has become the best way to talk to people who are involved in the industry and coffee is no different. I have created a coffee list of the people I follow. It’s a great way to keep an ear to the ground.

In a summary of the year I would be remiss to ignore the fact that the actual coffee has changed quite considerably. Seven Seeds, St Ali, 5 Senses, Market Lane and Small Batch seem to be all be expanding the number of cafes they are supplying with beans and places like Dead Man are making the most out of the variety.

Experiencing these coffees has never been easier either with Seven Seeds and Market Lane (that I know of) doing daily cuppings.

This isn’t to mention alternative brewing methods which seems to have had a massive boom. The syphon has gone from strength to strength with a good number of these cafes using it. Pour over seems to be the flavour of the day though, with it allowing some subtle flavours to really poke through.

The Sugar in Melbourne Coffee Shops

I have a gripe for the vast majority of Melbourne Cafes. Why oh why do you insist on me spoiling your beautiful coffee with an inferior sugar product? I’m the guy that when asked has 1 raw sugar in his takeaway latte. Yes, raw. It isn’t that I don’t like my coffee bitter, in fact sometimes it’s a long black, with a raw sugar. I love the extra layer of slightly caramel flavour that that 1 teaspoon adds to the coffee.

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Coffee Crystals: The kind of coffee that should be in all cafes

Melbourne is a city which loves coffee. The people drink it in boatloads, the general quality of the coffee is great and you can buy it everywhere. Even my cornershop has a espresso machine, yet nearly every place offers me nothing but pre-measured white sugar. It seems strange to me that not only is raw sugar cheaper but it’s also tastier than it’s bleached cousin yet businesses insist on selling it.

So, my tip to the coffee shops. Fuck the sachets and give me a good old fashioned sugar-bowl or dispenser and a great coffee. In the long run you and I will both reap the benefits.

Church St, Cremorne

7 Grams Cafe Past the last shops in the Swan St shopping precinct and before the hustle and bustle of Prahran, between the italian tile warehouses and one-off designer furniture shops, in the shadow of the Bryant & May match factory and in the heart of the textile companies that make Richmond famous. Church Street is the unlikely host of an inoordinate number of cafe’s and coffee shops. It is a section of road that you would pass through on the rickety old 78 tram and not even think of getting off for your much needed hangover cure.

To the casual passerby these cafes seem to be near nothing and have no reason for existance but it is the ultra-hip fashion executives, designers and furniture salesmen that they service. Lunch time during the week is hectic as they rush in, grab a double shot, decaf, soy latte or perhaps a salmon baguette and then rush on their way. Or perhaps they might sit down at one of the crammed tables on the street and talk about the latest fads in swedish bathrooms

Pearl Cafe This assortment of coffee shops seems to do a great job of catering to these businesses but they don’t seem to be too sure of whether they are cafes or not. 7 grams, is a contradiction, home of the world barista champion it has copies of “The Gourmet Barista” (or some equally pretentious coffee magazine) for sale at one end of the counter and a bain-maree of death full of dim sims and potato scallops at the other. The fine-dining Enoteca and Pearl Restaurant lower their colours for lunch, offering cheap specials supposedly to get the more wealthy lunch crowd in the door. JE Cafe seems more intent on advertising itself as a catering service than servicing its own customers. Amsterdam Cafe seems less confused about its identity but has a limited menu on weekends, which noone knows what it contains. Perhaps the only cafe that truly knows what it wants to be is the fusion inspired Black Pearl but their breakfast finishes at 10 and it is usually packed and the service suffers.

At night the cafes shut, and the quality of Enoteca and Pearl create an interesting juxtaposition with the daytime chaos. Enoteca’s menu turns from a cheap lunch menu to a classic italian restaurant, amazing oysters, quail risottos and pastas with prices to match. Further down the street Pearl restaurant (sister of the aforementioned cafe) serves up a genuinely interesting menu with a combination of indian, thai, vietnamese and chinese flavours as if serving as a halfway house between Prahran and Richmond.

Don’t let the confusion bother you, this corner of Melbourne is wonderful in a strange way, great coffee, good food and great personalities are capped off perfectly with the fine-dining class that Enoteca and Pearl bring. All of this is tucked away from the crowds and surrounded by interesting shops to entertain between coffees. Next time you are in the area, drop in, you might not quite understand, but you will enjoy.

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Cafes: Breakfast brings the Cure

As far as curing a hangover there are few better remedies in the morning that Coffee and Bacon. As I’ve discussed previously, there certainly is a skill to frying up a good breakfast but that skill notwithstanding most of the time you are probably best to leave it to a trained professional. Now what I mean by a trained professional is someone you are going to pay to cook you up a feast. What I’m trying to say is that you’ve basically got 3 options of a heavy morning:

  1. The hair of the dog that bit you
  2. Sort yourself out something to eat
  3. Pay someone to help you out with some food

Anyhow, I’m a huge fan of the 3rd option but my wallet isn’t yet that doesn’t stop me. There is a list of cafes as long as my arm that I’m planning on reviewing here on this site for starters the list is: