Jessica-Lee Hirst is a freelance writer based in the Yarra Valley.
Published March 18th 2012
There is a dusty alley way squished between two shops in Healesville. It looked like it hadn't had a lot of love for years. It's been up for grabs for a long time but no one had the vision to turn the place around.
Instead of a dusty alley, there is a surprisingly cool little cafe. There are so many cafes in Healesville that it's hard to notice a new one, especially a very small one that was once a dingy no man's land. After receiving great reviews and having a little spot in The Age Epicure, and my Dad telling me I must check it out, I headed off to Essenza one sunny morning.
Lucky I was there early, because before too long all the tables were taken. The barista was churning out take away coffees and breakfasts were steadily being delivered. The little alley way is now decorated with black walls and pressed along one side is the seating; one long pew with tables and chairs. The other side is covered floor to ceiling with the best of Yarra Valley's produce, from jams to olive oils. Right at the far end is the coffee machine, a little kitchen and an array of fresh pastries, muffins baked in terracotta and other delightful sweets, all baked in house of course.
The most important thing for a cafe in the Yarra Valley is coffee. If you do a bad coffee the word spreads like wild fire and before too long, you would have no customers because there will be a cafe one shop up making good coffee.
For Essenza this won't be a problem. The coffee was aromatic and strong, black coffee was sweet and not bitter and the organic milk T.D.F.
I had a hard time choosing off the breakfast menu, it all looked appetizing. I went for the granola. It was served on a cute bread board and was covered in berries and honey. My Mum and Dad shared fruition toast - any café serving fruition and piccolo lattes is a winner with Mum.
Don't get lost among the big cafes in Healesville, find this little espresso bar gem and you've made a good choice.