The Melbourne Report


Our Managing Director, Mike, headed to Melbourne earlier this month to see what’s new. Read his report on what’s going on over the ditch below.

On this trip I was really keen to explore a few new places and check out some new concepts and coffee brands that don’t get their time in the limelight as much as the usual favourites (Market Lane, Seven Seeds, St Ali, Proud Mary etc). Much has been written about the wave of high-end openings in Melbourne in recent years, many with expensive fitouts and often owned by hospitality groups. I wanted to dig a little deeper and see something new.

I started by jumping straight off the Skybus at Southern Cross station and heading into the CBD. Rather than scour Broadsheet for the best coffee shops or new openings (you can see these here) I wanted to take an old-school approach of ‘discovering’ places by stumbling across them.

I was also deliriously hungry but determined to go somewhere new and off the radar. I stumbled up Guildford Lane, a quieter Melbourne Laneway in the Financial precinct and very close to the excellent donut shop Short Stop.

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Photo of Short Stop by Tom Ross for Broadsheet.

I settled on Krimper, mainly because like many great places around the world there was minimal signage and only an old barn door to entice you in. The street was quiet but inside the character filled warehouse was bustling. It reminded me of Kokako Café in Grey Lynn. I had an excellent de-constructed falafel with pickles accompanied by an exemplary Long black by Maker Coffee (roasted in Richmond) and made on a classic La Marzocco FB80. The coffee had great complexity for a single origin, it was Huila from Colombia.

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Out the front of Krimper.

On Friday morning I met Chris Morrison (Karma Cola) and his Melbourne rep Andy Sales at Code Black Coffee in Brunswick. Set in a low-rise Melbourne warehouse this dimly lit cavernous space has a full retail area to the front and a long espresso and brew bar running the length of the building. We sat at the back of the space next to the cupping room and adjacent to the roastery which was separated by a large steel barn door. They are running two Probat roasters simultaneously and are clearly doing a bit of volume judging by the green coffee on the racks and the energy of the two roasters on the job. Coffee was excellent – made up of a seasonal espresso with a natural Colombian and a Guji from Ethiopia.

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Inside Code Black Coffee in Brunswick.

Then I headed up Sydney Road to Kines - a recommendation from our Business Development Manager Zoe’s brother Alex who lives in Melbourne and works with Rumble Coffee Roasters. This old shoe factory (see below) has been re-purposed as a café, coffee roastery and artist workspace and it is quintessential Melbourne. To me this is why you come to Melbourne – a more relaxed vibe with a low-fi fitout in a random side street in an old suburb of Melbourne. Coffee is roasted by Aaron Wood of Wood & Co (ex Atomic NZ and Seven Seeds) and I enjoyed a batch brew from their Fetco. I didn’t make a note of the coffee but pretty sure it was a Colombian – I also picked up a bag of the Twin Peaks blend for us to try at Kokako.

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I noticed that unlike previous visits to Melbourne the roast profiles have reverted back to what we would typically describe here as a medium roast, rather than the lighter roasts prevalent in the last couple of years. This is good news, as the coffee was much better developed and allowed the complexity of each coffee to come to the fore. As you might have noticed Colombians and Ethiopians as both singles and blends are du jour (of the day) in Melbourne right now.

A quick bus ride across to Northcote and I was at All Are Welcomea small bakery and coffee joint housed in an old Modernist building that used to be a Christian Science Reading room. This collaboration with Everyday Coffee partners quality coffee with hand-made pastries and sourdough. There is also a great selection of artisanal small goods, retail coffee, reading material and other nice things. I liked All are Welcome for its simplicity and elegance – the offering was succinct (just two excellent teas to choose from) and the fitout was sympathetic to the quirks of the original building.

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Baker Boris Portnoy outside All Are Welcome. Photo by Bec Dickinson for Broadsheet.

Back towards the city to Collingwood and a recent new opening that caught my attention was Terror Twilight at 11 Johnston Street. The fitout is totally right – those old blinds in the front window give no hint to the goodness inside this gem. Despite them having excellent coffee from Wide Open Road I opted for a smoothie and the best chicken sandwich I think I’ve ever eaten. The smoothie was delivered to my table with the comment – this is the best smoothie in Collingwood. And it was – almond milk and banana topped with crumbles of cacao, goji berries, coconut and mint. Everything here is well considered and there are lots of interesting spots to perch whilst you sit in the sun.

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I couldn’t resist a visit back to Dukes on Flinders Lane, even at 4pm on a Friday just before they closed. I had a perfectly prepared espresso - the Dukes Winter Blend is a combination of two coffees from Burundi and Peru and came served with a small Duralex glass of sparking water. As you’d expect everything is done right – the built in scales allowed the baristas to weigh each shot before extracting them on one of two La Marzocco Linea PB’s.

I also made it to the original Everyday Coffee site on Johnston Street, Collingwood and would recommend their new CBD site (Everyday Midtown) at 213 Little Collins Street if you are in the CBD. If you are in South Yarra there are a couple of places that are reliably good – The Final Step was started by Kiwi Ben Whitaker and is an admirably socially conscious business - the profits from the cafe are used to fund the “Food For Thought” program; a healthy food and activity program designed to feed underprivileged children in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They serve Maker coffee. My other favourite, just round the corner from my brothers house, is Tivoli Road Bakery - their sourdough is unmissable and is made with locally milled organic flour. Tivoli Road serves Small Batch coffee and my late Saturday afternoon espresso there rounded off my trip quite nicely.

See you next time Melbourne!