Freelance writer and blogger. Visit my interior design blog at homeandheartaustralia.blogspot.com
Published December 27th 2010
Melbournians take great pride in their city's reputation as the café capital of Australia. Every weekend, rain or shine, the locals gather at cafes everywhere to soak up the atmosphere. No matter who you talk to, chances are that they'll be more than willing to recommend some little café that makes a great coffee. So, for the keen coffee drinkers out there, here are just a few of my favourites.
The first one is also a huge favourite of the locals, so be prepared to wait for a table at The Auction Rooms at 103-107 Errol Street, North Melbourne. This trendy café draws its name from the old auction rooms that were once onsite. It has a great set-up and is always busy, however the coffee is well worth the wait. The Auction Rooms roast their own speciality coffee, which has proven to be extremely popular. They feature a different 'coffee of the day', and their beans are available to buy if you're keen to recreate this beautiful coffee at home.
Dino's Deli at 34 Chapel Street is located at what is generally considered to be the 'hip' end of Chapel Street in Windsor. It has a fantastic eclectic European vibe that makes you feel like you have been transported to a little back street of Paris. The laid-back staff serve up a consistently great coffee that you're welcome to enjoy at a leisurely pace. The large takeaway coffees prove to be a tempting alternative as you stroll Chapel Street and take in the busy weekend atmosphere.
The Green Grocer at 217 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North is Australia's first fully licensed organic café, and will definitely impress you if you're into ethical coffee bean production. The organic food, preserves and wine make for an interesting perusal while you sip your coffee, or you can make yourself comfortable at a table inside, or out in the courtyard. I was previously a bit of a doubter regarding organic coffee, however an increasing social awareness of ethical bean production has made organic coffee a popular choice in the last few years, and more cafes are beginning to follow this trend. After my first coffee, I am immediately converted. The Greengrocer has the art of coffee nicely perfected.
St Ali at 12-18 Yarra Place in South Melbourne roasts their own speciality coffee (you can even buy it online). St Ali takes its name from Ali ibn Umar al-Shadhili – the patron Saint of coffee. This is particularly appropriate in this case, because at St Ali, coffee is a religion. They have developed trade alliances with some of the best coffee growers in the world, and once the beans arrive, St Ali roasts them with care. Every cup of coffee really is a work of art, and the dedicated baristas produce some of the best coffee I have tasted. Whether you're after something hot and milky as you blearily read the morning paper, or prefer something strong and smooth to cap off your evening, St Ali guarantees satisfaction.
These are only a few places in a city that is huge on coffee culture. Coffee drinkers are becoming more and more discerning, and as a result cafes are beginning to really invest the time, passion and skill that is required to make a truly great cup of coffee. Part of the fun is to get out and explore so you can find places that you in turn are able to recommend to other coffee lovers. Good luck!