Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published March 17th 2013
Good coffee isn't just for students
If you're lost in the desert and need a source of water badly, follow the birds. The same principle holds for finding good coffee shops: if you want good coffee, go where the caffeine addicts are. The business areas of Melbourne are for this reason home to plenty of well-known coffee shops, like Brother Baba Budan (and some lesser-known gems, like Satchmo's Den just off Lonsdale St.) Likewise, the concentration of coffee-swilling students at Melbourne University has produced some pretty excellent coffee shops on campus. Whether you're a student, a staff member, or just somebody who lives in Parkville, it's worth your while to brave the crowd of hipsters and try out some of these places.
Castro's has been a pillar of the Melbourne Uni coffee community for years. It's just behind the Ian Potter Museum on Swanston St. Although long-time students will tell you the coffee quality has gone downhill since a change of management a few years back, it's still a very popular spot for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it offers a huge range of types and flavours of coffee, from the blindingly sweet Irish Cream to the sophisticated ristretto-with-milk mini latte. Secondly, the large wooden tables are comfortable and spacious - and they stay there overnight, so don't worry about being hurried off at closing time. Thirdly, Castro's is situated at the midpoint between Physics, Maths and Architecture. It's neutral ground: the perfect meeting place for friends studying different courses. Not like...
Kere Kere is a popular haunt for Engineering and Arts students, as well as - this should be significant - many university staff members. If you're looking for a good coffee, Kere Kere is a bit more reliable than Castro's. It's also a bit less bells-and-whistles, so don't expect syrupy flavours or creams.
It draws quite a crowd on the free coffee day each year.
Kere Kere's gimmick is its consumer-driven donation system: you take an oversized playing card when you order, and when you collect your coffee you put the card back in one of four boxes. The number of cards in the boxes at the end of the day decides what charitable cause the profit goes to: medical, social, environmental or cultural. It's a great way to ease your first-world guilt and drink some good coffee at the same time.
Lot 6 is home of the Economics students, situated right next to its sister establishment Tsubu Bar. Like Kere Kere, it makes reliably excellent coffee, but there's no charity kick to ease your troubled soul. On the other hand, there is a huge indoor seating area and a decent food menu. If you're not a soft-hearted Arts student, Lot 6 might be for you - especially since you can head next door for a beer or three after lunch. Although if you're getting lunch, you may be better off heading to...
Ho Ho's Canteen
Ho Ho's Canteen is the new kid on the block, recently arrived in Union House next to the decades-old Pronto Pizza. It occupies a cursed spot: cafes that open up there tend to close within six months, overshadowed by the saturation of coffee places on the one hand and the proximity of Pronto Pizza on the other. Ho Ho's is in with a fighting chance, though - it might actually deliver the best coffee on campus. With beans from Brunswick institution Wide Open Road and a salad-based gourmet lunch menu, it's hard to miss.
Want to share a story about one of these places? Think this list leaves out the best coffee shop of all? Whether you like Ho Ho's or not, share your opinion in the comments. We'd love to hear from you.