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 January 18th 2015
You definitely won't have been to the last one
Everyone knows about Melbourne's popular cafes. Brunetti's is referenced frequently in articles about Melbourne, as is the underwhelming strip of Italian restaurants along Lygon St. Hipsters will be able to tell you about St Ali, Seven Seeds, Brother Baba Budan and Auction Rooms. The well-known places are all good cafes - yes, even the ones on Lygon St. But they're also crowded, expensive, and snobbish. They're so popular they don't need your business, and they know it. That's why true Melbourne coffee fanatics are always on the move: always looking for the best new cafes, where they can sit in peace and quiet with an amazing coffee. So here's a list of four quality coffee shops that don't draw crowds - at least not yet.
Steam Junkies is a little cafe nestled on the Sydney Road bike path. Its relative seclusion means that it's usually fairly quiet. The coffee is excellent, and the breakfast menu is inventive. But the real draw of this place is its location: the huge windows that look out onto the bike path and train line.
Imagine eating this for breakfast
Steam Junkies is always airy, full of sunlight, and a generally wonderful place to sit with a coffee. If you drop by, don't miss the chance to people-watch the passing cyclists. Sydney Road draws a strange crowd.
Lady Bower is a Reservoir institution. Like Steam Junkies, it's a little way off a main road, which keeps it free of traffic noise. That said, it's very easy to get to: only a few blocks' walk from the train station down Broadway. The coffee is as good as you'd get from the best places in the CBD, and the food is pleasant: a pretty standard breakfast menu coupled with a nice sandwich selection.
Here's their breakfast rice pudding
Given the dearth of acceptable coffee in the far northern suburbs, Lady Bower is an oasis. If you're anywhere near Reservoir, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Puckle St in Moonee Ponds has no shortage of cafes. However, as anyone who's picked one at random will know, they're strangely disappointing: mediocre coffee, expensive food, and cramped tables. Although Cafeteria Luis looks no different from the rest, it's streets ahead in terms of quality. There's a great selection of French pastries and the coffee is delicious.
The main draw is the breakfast food. The avocado is never underripe, the eggs are cooked just right, and they don't overdo the hollandaise sauce. You can't go wrong by picking something at random from the menu.
Cafe Sua Da
Cafe Sua Da is a recently-opened cafe near Melbourne University, just before the corner of Lygon St and Elgin St. Students and locals might know it as the place that used to be Foo Go's, which was always a dodgy proposition. Cafe Sua Da, however, is just fantastic. There's a huge variety of Vietnamese food, the coffee is great, and - the best part - they do Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk.
The Elgin St front of the cafe
Cafe Sua Da will always have space for you, your friends, or your laptop, since most people get their caffeine fix from uni or from the popular hipster cafe Le Miel a few blocks away. On top of all that, the food is generous and very cheap.
Do you know a local gem of a cafe? Share it in the comments - or don't. The less people know about your coffee haunt, the better.
Thank you. Great to have new finds. While not cheap we rather like the peacefulness the owners have created at Lawson's in Lawson Grove, South Yarra, off Caroline St and just up from the river. A great place to take your laptop if you need a quiet place to write and excellent coffee. Nice and hot!!
Wild Timor Cafe
282 Sydney Road Coburg, Victoria
Excellent coffee & really beautiful food AND a great story of ex Aussie servicemen supporting a Timorese community, so you get to feel good about yourself while having a brew!