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Published June 3rd 2014
I've come to love coffee in Melbourne with specialty coffee shops dotting the CBD like Sensory Lab in Bourke Street Mall and Market Lane opposite Queen Victoria Market. You would think that finding an equally good specialty coffee shop in the city's flagship shopping mall would be simple. There are many food and beverage outlets in Emporium serving an acceptable cup of java but nothing really addictive - the kind that makes your taste buds go "wow" and gets you returning for more. Until I stumbled onto a small and nondescript take-away counter in the Autonomy fashion boutique.
For visitors to the mall who aren't familiar with Autonomy, it is a high quality, high fashion label for guys who are stylish. It has a distribution of more than 40 boutiques around Australia and a loyal customer base who enjoy the diversity, originality and offbeat personality of the brand. Designer fashion aside, let's talk coffee.
Going by the name of 'Auto Espresso', this coffee bar is located in the corner of the boutique, on the lower ground floor opposite Topshop. It exclusively serves coffee from Industry Beans, which was named "Melbourne's Best New Roastery of 2013" by Fairfax Media's Good Food Magazine.
After a friendly exchange with the barista, I ordered two lattes, one using the Rose Street Blend and the other the Kenyan Karimikui single blend. Then stood back and observed. The barista knew his trade. He checked the espresso for the right aroma and consistency before introducing the milk. For the single origin, he advised that he would short on the milk to manage the flavours before continuing to work on the rosetta.
The Rose Street Blend was well-rounded, full bodied and delivered a cocoa finish. I also enjoyed the floral aroma and citrus tang of the Kenyan Karimikui single blend. My only regret was the perfect brews came in paper cups.
Just like the fashion brand, its coffee bar delivered a distinct brew that embodied a freedom from the average, and fueled by the passion, dedication and skill of its barista. With Auto Espresso, you can say no to an average cup of java in Emporium Melbourne for now.