Two of the major drawcards for Melbourne visitors are the city’s laneways lined with street art and the world-class coffee scene. Inevitably, in winding your way down the laneways and backstreets of Melbourne, you’ll come across tiny or well-disguised cafes where the coffee is often locally sourced and the staff are passionate about coffee and service.
Rather than spending your entire holiday in Melbourne hunting the streets in the hopes of finding a gem, here is some insider guidance on where to find great coffee in less-than-obvious places within the city centre and surrounding suburbs.
While Degraves Street draws the foot traffic for cafes and restaurants with dining seats dotted down the laneway, it is Centre Place with its off-beat fashion and book shops that provides greater entertainment, and arguably, superior coffee. Above the bustling laneway that connects Flinders Lane with Collins Street via an arcade, Hell’s Kitchen is both a café and bar with windows onto the laneway. If you’re done with people-watching though, booths away from the window provide discreet space for conversation and meetings. If you’re seeking to refuel for more shopping, try the Late Riser – smoky baked beans on toasted Turkish bread. If the shopping is done and it feels right, try the Left Bank (Hendricks gin, St-Germain and sauvignon blanc shaken and stirred) or a mint-fresh mojito.
20A Centre Place, Melbourne
(03) 9654 5755
Krimper is the epitome of Melbourne’s favourite design approach: industrial, stripped back and minimal with warmth injected via plants, wood, natural textures and an artfully rustic feel. Much of the furniture and elements of the cafe itself are formed from recycled lift doors, mechanical wheels and warehouse bits and pieces. The cafe space was originally a sawmill and a cabinet-making warehouse respectively. While never occupied by designer Shulim Krimper, owner Mun Soon was so inspired by the mid century designer, that he named the cafe accordingly. Local officeworkers arrive for the Noisette pastries and takeaway coffee. Do yourself a favour though, and immerse yourself in the ultra-Melbourne surrounds by grabbing a table and settling in for an extended lunch.
20 Guildford Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9043 8844
Seedling Cafe is a little haven of healthiness in Flinders Lane. Keep in mind that it’s only open weekdays, and it can get super busy at lunchtimes as surrounding workers come for takeaway. There’s seating, but it’s a small venue so sometimes it’s either a matter of waiting or opting for takeaway. There’s a changing variety of daily salads. From the 100% gluten-free menu, the Seedling Lunch Set gives you a choice of protein (meatloaf, chicken, frittata) with tomato relish and a choice of two salads. The paleo-inspired menu stretches to the beverages: Bulletproof Coffee takes a strong long black and laces it with organic coconut oil and grass-fed butter, or opt for a turmeric or matcha latte.
275 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Capulus & Co
Only an unassuming black and white shopfront, no bigger than a mere household window, heralds Capulus & Co in Brunswick. Only the locals and those attuned to the coffee-lovers’ grapevine have cottoned onto this gem. While isn’t the roomiest space, it more than compensates with great coffee and family atmosphere. Unsurprisingly, the cafe is run by a family from their loungeroom. The croissants and sweet things are baked in-house and the siblings take turns as baristas. Make yourself at home here, it could become a habit.
9 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Ternary Tuckshop in Richmond is well hidden behind a car dealership and a petrol station. It’s convenient for the corporate businesses nearby, but rest assured it’s far from the usual staid, office takeaway spot. Remember schooldays where your name was written in big, clear letters on your brown paper bag? You can re-live this here. The modern twist is that you can pre-order lunch via the Rewardle app so that if you’re in a rush, you can grab and go. There’s the ubiquitous smashed avocado with fetta, poached eggs and dukkah on toast as well as top rate coffee. An easy trip by tram via Victoria Street.
7/3 Bromham Place, Richmond
(03) 9079 8994
Vertue Coffee Roasters
Carlton is central to Melbourne’s universities, arts venues and some of the best Italian food in the city. Vertue Coffee Roasters is well hidden in a deep corner near the service station. With hearty-sized meals and a leafy courtyard, visiting on a sunny day is a must. The cafe is open daily, with busier times being early mornings and lunch. Why not organise a brunch date instead? As you might expect of a specialty coffee roaster, the espressos, lattes and macchiatos here are worth writing home about.
8 Raffa Place, Carlton
(03) 8060 6987
Cafe Bu is a multi-level coffee mecca. Serving local 5 Seeds coffee, the ground floor space is tiny but if you take the stairs to the hidden rooftop, this is where those-in-the-know are eating their breakfast and drinking multiple espressos. North Carlton is well serviced by trams and buses.
585A Canning Street, Carlton North
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Feature image: Capulus & Co. Supplied.