We’re in Melbourne for the 2013 World Barista Championship, our first visit to this splendid city. How do you write a guide for a city if you’ve never been? Easy. We polled a dozen Melbourne residents and frequent visitors with excellent taste on their very favorite places to eat, drink, and have a coffee around town. Read more features like this one in our Melbourne Sprudge Guides hub!
From the dozen or so experts we polled, here's our 10 recommendations for having a nice coffee time in Melbourne. It was an enormously difficult list to determine, and we remain impressed by the diversity in answers offered by our poll responders. There's a chance your favorite cafe has been left out, but be sure to check over at our Melbourne Breaky Guide, because perhaps we've listed it there – the line between a cafe and a breakfast spot in Melbourne is all but non-existent, and visitors should consult these two lists in concert.
Still think we blew it by leaving your favorite out? Read us the riot act on Twitter (@Sprudge) and show us more cool stuff.
Proud Mary – This cafe in Collingwood appeared on literally every set of polling answers we received. One responder said, “If they could fit more coffee equipment on the bar, they’d do it. A mammoth 6 group Synesso and siphon bar bracket in a bunch of mad coffee enthusiasts. The awesome crew at Prouds look after everyone who comes through the door.” Others called it “hectic” but a must visit nonetheless, and several touted the food. Oh, and they're one of the few cafes in Melbourne to offer public wifi. Go here! (172 Oxford St, Collingwood)
Patricia Coffee Brewers – Another cafe mentioned by nearly all of our respondents, Patrcia is the closest thing to a true “espresso bar” you're likely to find in breaky-mad Melbs. The cafe is a standing room only affair, with a simple menu of “black, white, or filter” options. Very highly regarded by our poll folks. (493-495 Little Bourke Street)
Market Lane – Internationally renowned and likely already on your list, Market Lane's brand is closely associated with the thriving coffee scene in Melbourne. This roaster-retailer has three locations around the city to enjoy espressos and filtered coffees, plus pick up a bag of beans for your friends back home. (109-111 Therry Street, 176 Faraday St. Carlton, Shop 13 Prahran Market – 163 Commercial Road)
Code Black Coffee Roasters – A newcomer on the Melbourne scene, with one of the more astonishing build-outs (or “fit outs”) you're likely to find in Melbourne, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Code Black was home to the 2013 Victoria Barista Championship, which happened the very same day they opened their doors. Code Black will be home to our upcoming international cupping with Cafe Imports, happening Tuesday, May 22nd. (15-17 Weston Street Brunswick)
Seven Seeds – Another brand closely associated with Melbs, Seven Seeds' flagship warehouse coffee bar / roastery was recommended by nearly every responder we polled. They've got La Marzocco Stradas and a variety of filter coffee methods, plus a revered kitchen serving food until 3pm daily. Seven Seeds is an important part of the ongoing narrative of specialty coffee in Melbourne, and a must-visit on your trip. Go here! (106 – 114 Berkeley St Carlton)
St. Ali / Sensory Lab – Peas in a pod, these two brands share the same familial lineage and ownership, and together they've dominated the Australian competitive coffee scene in 2013, boasting a staff that includes both current Brewers Cup and Barista Championship winners. St. ALi is a coffee and brunch palace with two locations; Sensory Lab sits in the foyer of a department store in the CBD, and serves roaringly good espresso alongside multiple Hario filter options. They don't make cafes like this in North America, which seems increasingly foolish the more time we spend down here… (St. ALi North: 815 Nicholson St, Carlton; St. ALi South: 12-18 Yarra Pl, South Melbourne; Sensory Lab: 297 Little Collins St)
Everyday Coffee – Multiroasters are still a bit of a rarity in Melbs, but Everyday Coffee fills the gap by offering a revolving menu of coffee options, comprised of around 5 filter coffee choices and multiple espressos. Owner Mark Free is well-versed in global coffee trends and who's-who in the roasting world, and his cafe reflects that – they're one of the only cafes in all of Australia serving batch brew! We're teaming up with Everyday for a cupping party following the madness of MICE, featuring coffees from all around – we're calling it the WBC Come Down, and you can learn more by clicking this link. Also, as an aside, people freak out about the key lime pie at Everyday Coffee (multiple responders mentioned it). Did you think you'd be flying to Melbourne and eating key lime pie? We sure didn't, but you know what? Screw it, two slices please. (33 Johnston St)
Brother Baba Budan – This is the sister cafe to Seven Seeds, and is highly regarded by Melbourne locals and visitors alike for capturing the city's charming modern allure. Tucked down an alley (or “laneway) on Little Bourke Street, this is in many ways the quintessential urban Melbs coffee bar, with espressos & filter coffees done right. Towards the top of our must-visit list, and it should be on yours, too. (359 Little Bourke St)
Top Paddock – Just 6 months old, Top Paddock is Melbourne's symphonic love affair with coffee & brunch, presented in a single passionate aria. There is a lovely take away counter up front, but the real action here is at one of Top Paddock's 150+ seats, clustered tastefully in nooks and crannies across a tastefully outfitted custom built space. The food here is divine but the coffee steals the show, with SOE and blended espresso choices alongside filter coffees, all roasted by 5 Senses. Our coffees were presented with tasteful info sheets; brunch goers are handed a coffee menu in perfect harmony with the food offerings, and all the printed materials are gorgeous. We ordered everything on the coffee menu and were uniformly impressed. If Melbourne is the greatest fancy coffee brunch city in the world (and signs point to yes), then Top Paddock is among its crown jewels. (658 Church St, Richmond)
Auction Rooms – For our last selection, a preponderance of those polled mentioned Auction Rooms, the cafe outlet for the folks at Small Batch Roasters. Like most shops in Melbs, Auction Rooms has a dual focus on expertly prepared coffee and delicious food. But unlike most shops in Melbs, they've got hours until 10pm on weekends, and an extremely high volume siphon program. Melbourne's industrial chic design has a comfortable home here. We've been instructed to try the fruit salad. (103-107 Errol St, North Melbourne)
Loop back ’round to our Melbourne info portal, why don’t you? Good on ya!