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 March 24th 2014
Only the best will do
Since last year, the coffee landscape at Melbourne University has gone through some major upheavals. James Murphy, the celebrated owner of Kere Kere, has retreated to the Boyd Community Hub in Southbank, leaving his cafe to be taken over by new management. Ho Hos has tightened its grip on the caffeine-starved students it spent last year enticing, and a takeaway-only competitor has opened up inside Union House itself. Without further ado, the best three cafes in Melbourne University at the moment are...
3. Standing Room
The newest addition to the Melbourne University cafe scene, Standing Room is a poky little space just off the main food court in Union House. True to its name, it has no tables or chairs inside - which is a good thing, as it keeps the cafe from being swamped by the unruly Union House crowd. The food options are more delectable than filling, but the coffee is genuinely good and it's rarely crowded.
You can't sit here with some homework over a cappucino, but if you're just looking to take a latte into your morning lecture, Standing Room is hard to beat.
2. House of Cards
House of Cards is the cafe formerly known as Kere Kere. As the name suggests, it's kept the gimmick of handing out plus-sized playing cards with each order instead of taking names or numbers, and the signs at the cafe claim that they're keeping the charity tradition going as well. James built a lot of trust during his time at Melbourne University, and it's going to be hard for House of Cards to build that back, but they're off to a good start. The fact that they've kept many of the same baristas is an encouraging sign, as is the continuation of the free coffee day in March.
While House of Cards might be a smidgen less friendly now that there's no public face of the business, it's still a strong contender for the best coffee shop at the university. Not strong enough though (yet, at least) to beat the number one spot:
3. Ho Ho's Canteen
Ho Ho's Canteen has gone from strength to strength in the year it's been running. Despite occupying the cursed spot next to the ridiculously popular Pronto Pizza, Ho Ho's has continuously pulled in big crowds and churned out excellent coffees. What's their secret? One part of it is the food: a wholesome selection of pastas and salads that belong more on a restaurant menu than a university cafe. Another part of it is the coffee, brewed from Wide Open Road beans and consistently delicious.
Here's their beautiful sandwich menu.
The real draw of Ho Ho's has got to be the exact thing House of Cards lost this year: a personality. Head chef and owner Fabian Calabrese has stamped his mark all over the cafe, from the chill hip-hop constantly playing from the speakers to the cheerful greeting he throws at regular customers. Always happy to talk about his ingredients or suppliers, he makes visiting Ho Ho's feel more like dropping in on a friend than making a business transaction - a very lucrative strategy.
Know a coffee place at Melbourne Uni that you think deserves the top spot? Want to defend the honour of Castro's Kiosk or Lot 6? Let us know in the comments - we'd love to hear from you.
Plush fish, the sushi place in Union House, has surprisingly great coffee as well! I wouldn't have thought coffee and sushi was a likely pair but thy do both pretty well :) I will have to try Ho Ho's again!