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The 3 Most Overrated Cafes In Melbourne

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by Sean Goedecke (subscribe)
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 December 30th 2011
The 3 Most Overrated Cafes In Melbourne
How can you tell a good café from a bad café? Astute coffee drinkers will tell you to pay attention to the coffee machine – if it's Synesso or La Marzocco, for instance, the coffee is probably good – or the quality of the beans.

People argue a lot over stuff like this.

Filthy hipsters will tell you to look at the café's décor: the ambiance, if you will. You certainly can't trust the café's reputation, since every coffee shop in Melbourne has a crowd of acolytes. So don't listen to your friend who insists that the coffee stall at South Yarra Station makes the best blend in the city – check out this list of overrated cafés instead, and never drink bad coffee again.

Mentioning Starbucks in a list like this is almost cheating; among coffee snobs, it's a punchline. Still, the Starbucks on Swanston St near Melbourne Central Station is always full for some reason – some people, somewhere, must be advising their unwary friends to give it a try.

Starbucks Logo
Gaze into the face of evil.

If it's over forty degrees outside, you can justifiably visit Starbucks and take advantage of the air-conditioning, but even then there's no excuse for drinking the overpriced, sickeningly sweet coffee. If you're that desperate to sit on a comfy couch, head to a furniture store and rest on the couches there. It's no less shameful, and you'll come out five dollars richer.

Here's another obvious one. Brunetti – originally off Lygon St up the Melbourne University end, and recently on Swanston St near Flinders St Station – is often spoken of as if it's the coffee-and-pastry heart of Melbourne. But there's no getting around it: the coffee is awful, even for Lygon St.

Two coffees just means twice the awfulness.

If you're in the mood for a nice cake, Brunetti isn't too bad, but prepare to face huge crowds. Obviously, it's overpriced, but you shouldn't blame Brunetti, since they're just reacting to the (inexplicable) demand. The best thing for this café would be a sudden drop in business: the crowds would lessen and service would speed up, and they'd suddenly have to start focusing on quality. Let's try and make this happen.

The Quarter
Many coffee snobs hold that Degraves St is holy ground. Degraves Espresso, one of the best coffee shops in Melbourne, is here, along with the affordable Café Andiamo and many other hidden gems. Unfortunately, so is The Quarter, a thoroughly mediocre café.

The Quarter
Sure looks good, though.

The food here is okay, albeit expensive, and the coffee isn't too bad either (although you have to order food if you want to drink it inside). The problem is that 'not too bad' doesn't cut it when you're literally next door to Degraves Espresso – there's no reason for anyone to come here and pay more for worse coffee. If for some reason you want to discourage a friend from ever setting foot in Degraves St, take them here: you won't be disappointed.

Think that one of these places deserves all the hype it gets? Know a popular place that isn't on this list (but should be?) Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below – and scroll down and read the comments anyway, since they're likely to be full of useful information. Whatever your perspective, we'd love to hear from you. Unless you like Starbucks, of course. That's just indefensible.
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Why? Because some cafes should be avoided.
When: Anytime, but don't bother.
Where: All over Melbourne.
Cost: Too expensive.
Your Comment
Sean, thankyou. I find this one funny. I have been to starbucks and was told they had free wifi. They didnt. I did see good graffiti from their window though. I cant comprehend the face of evil. :) Thankyou. You made me giggle.
by Jody Kimber (score: 2|894) 3302 days ago
Laurent bakeries
by aliso (score: 0|4) 3302 days ago
Brunetti is fantastic for coeliacs though as quite a few of their biscotti are gluten free - there are not many places that someone with a gluten intolerance can go to get that many delicious sweet treats on one plate!
by ruth. (score: 0|4) 3302 days ago
I actually don't mind Starbucks...I hang out all year to get their Gingerbread lattes around christmas time, so good. I'd rather read a article on the BEST places rather than the's a bit redundant
by evely0 (score: 0|6) 3301 days ago
Totally agree with you on brunnetis,in addition to the bad quality patisseries,the coffe is always cold.
by kazab (score: 0|3) 3300 days ago
That is the worst image of coffee in Melbourne I have ever seen....
As a barista of 15 years the two things I dislike are Latte Art and fully automatic machines....
Look for cafe's that have old manual or manual/automatic machines...
Two reasons 1. The machine can be fine tuned to make the most incredible coffee and 2. The barista will have passion and will most unlikely trained by either william angliss or lavazza.
by maria (score: 0|4) 3299 days ago
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