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Degraves Street, Melbourne

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by Frank Kos (subscribe)
Frank Kos
Published August 17th 2012
Anyone for coffee?
The city replete with small parochial streets and cobble stone alleyways draws in the early morning crowds like a teenager sucking up coke from a narrow straw. People stream into the city on weekdays. Some come up from the subway to pass by the Dutch Pancake Stall in Degraves Street, behind which stands a groovy looking Dude with a strange hair cut making delicious morsels. To bite into one is to taste sweet pastry with a hint of cinnamon and a dollop of honey. I love to have one with my warmish flat white coffee in the morning. The combination sits very well as I take a small bite followed by a sip of my coffee. More people cross busy Flinders Street like a herd of caribou fording a fast flowing river while trying to avoid the cars as if they were crocodiles.

Degraves Street with its cafes, stalls, barber shop and Christian Science Library is all set up to cater for the throngs of people which wade through in waves. The waiters stand patiently by like fishermen with their nets coated in aromatic coffee. They caste them out into the middle with masterful precision. The flavours which float along on the slightest of breezes beckon and entice many to stop for awhile, to take up a seat in the middle of the alleyway while Waiters fly at them menu in hand ready to serve.

As a young unemployed man I would often take the same train journey to sit awhile in Degraves Street and watch the people with jobs arrive in their tailored suits and couture frocks. The waiter's smile works like a barometer to gage the size of the catch occupying a table or the cost of the breakfast.

I love to sit back and watch the people come and go, the movement of their bodies, the sound of their shoes upon the cobblestones, faces set, stoic expressions, their purposeful walk as one follows another. In the morning, they do not look happy. The waiters stand to the side. The tables are dressed to impress. With their freshly ironed white cloths upon their dark brown wooden backs and metal crockery shining in the early morning sun.

The chatter of strangers and the constant movement never fails to make me think about life and living. I watch each person who comes into focus for a moment, they pass by and are gone to disappear forever round the corner into the next street. I sit at a table for what seems the whole morning but I know it isn't very long at all. Unlike the people, I do not have anywhere to go, no one is waiting to see me and there is no desk with my name on it up in one of the high-rise buildings that so dominate the landscape.

The coffee in Degraves Street is fantastic because they make so much of it day after day after day. Everyday the rush of customers and the demand for freshly brewed coffee chase each other round in circles. The barista is like a maestro conducting an orchestra. He applies his fast hands to make the best brew. With a smile and a chuckle he works upon the machine as if it was a beautiful woman caressing with gentleness and building anticipation. Then with a fast swipe of the hand he leaves a frothy image to add to the experience.
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Why? Anyone For Coffee?
Where: Degraves Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
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