Reliable coffee and peace and quiet away from the studious masses
The Melbourne Uni greater area knows its market; sleep deprived hung-over victims of perpetual assessment. Parkville, North Melbourne, and Carlton are currently the capitals of unsigned entrances, jars of sugar that looks like it was scraped off a beach, creatively-bearded tattooed baristas, and the heart-warming scent of freshly roasted coffee that only comes in one size and will cost you the greater part of your super fund.
That is what I love most about the area. Despite the arguable level of pretence, each of these places takes its coffee very seriously and has thoroughly researched how best to deliver your adenosine antagonists. Overextraction is rare, if at all, and milk is treated with respect. It is very easy to have a mental map of low risk coffee places in the area at the ready and if you have half an hour spare on or near campus, your biggest problem is deciding which silky smooth cup you prefer on any given day. However, if you only have ten minutes between classes or appointments, or that hangover just can't get you two blocks from campus, it is a very different story.
Plush Fish is an on-campus haven for great coffee and amazing sushi
In line with the spirit of the area, the Uni itself has many on-campus cafes and take-away stands; some genuine unsigned-one-size-only-geological-sugar-bearing, some less so. It can be a bit of a gamble. If you need coffee quick, it is nice to have an on-campus go-to stored in the back of your head, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, mine is a sushi shop.
It is a poorly kept secret that it has amazing sushi, but when Plush Fish in Union House was first recommended to me as a coffee shop, I entered with caution and geographically-based high standards. I was surprised by how easily these seemed to be met. There is nothing pretentious or fancy about it. It is just good, reliable coffee that has never let me down.
Rows and rows of not only generous but delicious sushi on display to accompany a lonely coffee. Most types also available in brown rice sushi
Inside, it is careful to live up to its title of Coffee Den. It is dimly lit with walls that are draped in red velvet, and plenty of little nooks and crannies in which to comfortably nurse a hangover or avoid social contact on bad days. The music can range from disturbing (best of Delta Goodrem) to okay (Coldplay), but is usually played softly enough to avoid traumatisation where it may be a problem.
The coffee itself does not come accompanied by a list of qualifications or certificates, but it is reliable and available in three reasonably-priced sizes. In the two years I have been buying coffee there, I have probably only had one slightly burnt coffee. I know exactly what I am going to get when I walk up to the counter, and I know I can rely on it.
Plush Fish Sushi Bar and Coffee Den is full of comforting hide-aways, custom-built for the hangover in need of love or for grabbing a few precious people-free quiet moments
If coffee time coincides with lunch time, there is a huge range of diverse sushi, and most types are also available as brown rice sushi. The servings are generous, and come with lashings of wasabi if requested. There is also usually a vast array of baked treats available to accompany your caffeinated beverage if it is looking a little lonely.
Plush Fish delivers reliable coffee at very reasonable prices, and usually with a smile. If you are ever on campus and need a quality coffee without taking a gamble, I can recommend them with all of my caffeine-dependent heart.