In Melbourne, the inner-city suburbs of Fitzroy and Collingwood are iconic. Chances are if you’ve received a postcard from someone in Melbourne, or seen any tourist material for the city, one of the images depicted would be of a tram trundling up bustling Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, or someone enjoying a drink at a bar on Gertrude Street on the cusp of Collingwood. While there are innumerable cafes to be found in Fitzroy and Collingwood, specialty coffee establishments still make up a minority. But as of this autumn, on the corner of Gertrude Street and Smith Street, there’s a fresh new face in the neighborhood making quality beverages, by the name of Burnside Coffee.
The collaborative effort of Jona Gunn, Sean Albers (both formerly of Seven Seeds), and Chris Handley (of Cheerio and previously Coffee Supreme), Burnside has some serious coffee acumen behind it. With their cumulative experiences, Gunn, Albers, and Handley have set out to make Burnside a welcoming establishment serving up good coffee and food with no pretense.
When I visited Gunn for a chat, he outlined their goals for the space. “Burnside is all about the experience,” he said. “The coffee is good, the food is tasty, the room is comfortable, the service is snappy, but most importantly, you have a good time.”
With interior design by Lucas Catalano and brand design by Tom Clayton, Burnside is light, bright, and smartly laid out. The physical dimensions of the space itself—essentially a high-ceilinged isosceles triangle—creates an interesting dynamic and set of challenges in regards to design, all handled gracefully. Floor to ceiling glass windows allow incredible natural light into the space, with lovely pastel-toned chair legs, light wood benches and stools, and plant greenery contrasting against the expansive deep red concrete floor (an original feature of the space, long hidden underneath layers of floorboards).
In the middle of Burnside sit two counters—on the left bench Seven Seeds coffee is pulled through a La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine (with the LM brand aptly replaced with a simple red perspex “Burnside”) and two Victoria Arduino Mythos 1 grinders, while the right counter is home to the till and a selection of delicious-looking sweets. While coffee service at Burnside is strictly espresso-based at this point, Gunn and the rest of the team hope to set up a batch brew system for filter coffee in the near future.
Where the space narrows towards the peak of its triangle, a beautifully laid out kitchen has its home, with aqua tiles and frosted glass creating a lively contrast against the white walls and pale wood of the seating area. Here, a small selection of sandwiches, soups, and other savory and sweet delights are lovingly made for the hungry public to consume.
Just upon walking into Burnside, it’s clear that Gunn, Albers, and Handley nailed their objective for the venue. It’s a light, bright, and welcoming space—a perfect place to nestle into the corner next to the window, grab a coffee and a bite to eat, and spend the afternoon watching the world go by. In other words, while having a good time.