Melbourne is a city that finds inspiration all over the world, and takes elements that makes it its own—a characteristic that’s especially prevalent in the hospitality industry. There have been waves of burgers, ramen, doughnuts, and now, the intricacies of toast are finally beginning to be explored. In the US, toast cafes have been a thing for some time now, originating with the inimitable Trouble Coffee & Coconut Club in San Francisco. In such a breakfast-focused city like Melbourne, a cafe serving mainly toast and coffee makes a lot of sense, with the brand new Crompton Coffee setting out to be the first of its kind.
Situated on a corner block in the lovely suburb of Richmond, this beautifully designed cafe serves delicious coffee, juice, and toast with an array of mouth-watering toppings. Cameron Green, formerly of Seven Seeds and Twenty & Six (amongst others over the last decade), teamed up with his friend Nick Peters, former manager of an environmental commodity trading business, to free the people of Melbourne from the monotony of raw, unadorned bread slices.
After a trip to The Mill in San Francisco a couple of years ago, Peters found himself taken by the toast and coffee concept, and set out to create a similar thing in Melbourne as his first venture into the hospitality industry. As Peters explained, “It was humble, it was simple, and it was thriving. Just coffee and really good toast. With top-notch bakers popping up all over Melbourne, we knew Melbournians would relish the idea…and the business model was simple enough to be replicable.”
The space is light, bright, and well laid-out by architects Edwards Moore, with a spectacular courtyard to soak up the sun in. The food menu is divided into two distinct toast categories: “Seasonal” and “Classic”, with bread sourced from Rustica Sourdough and GF Precinct. Seasonal creations currently include housemade chocolate-hazelnut spread with candied hazelnuts and fresh mint, alongside savory delights like hummus with cucumber and chili flakes, while the “Classic” toasts still border on fancy with homemade peanut butter topped by sea salt and honey, or vegemite with optional grilled cheese topping. If you’re toast-averse, there are options like their seasonal fruit and yoghurt or their daily salad creation.
Coffee at Crompton is presented simply: black, white, or filter. Small Batch’s Candyman is the basis for their milky espresso coffees, with a rotating coffee for the black (often Seven Seeds, Coffee Supreme, and Small Batch), and a rotating coffee for filter. Espresso service is run through a La Marzocco Linea PB, with Candyman run through the Victoria Arduino Mythos 1, and guest espressos run through the Mahlkönig EK 43. All filter coffee is batch brewed using a Fetco—an increasingly popular piece of equipment in Melbourne’s specialty cafes.
Green has seen a lot of changes in Melbourne’s coffee scene throughout his years in the industry, and as such decided to approach Crompton’s coffee service with an emphasis on quality without too much fanfare, as he outlined: “Coffee really gets over-thought sometimes and we wanted to pare back our offering and really focus on the few coffees we do serve.”
As Green and Peters made clear to me, the heart of Crompton Coffee is based on a simple but often hard-to-execute concept: doing only a few things, but setting out to do them very well. If their delicious products and unassuming service are anything to go by, then they’ve pretty much nailed the concept.
Photos by Heather Lighton for Sprudge.com.