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The Melbourne Airport Coffee Challenge

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by H. Clare Callow (subscribe)
A die-hard Melburnian who keeps being drawn away by luscious food and drinks. Be a pal and click the 'like' link below if you enjoy my article.
Published July 27th 2014
Tried and tested: we rate the airport's coffees
Going on a flight this weekend? If you're winging off – or in – for a sneaky weekend getaway, Melbourne Airport's coffee is going to feature large in your first step.

Coffee is one of the inevitabilities of visiting an airport. You might be picking someone up or flying off, but in the time between plane and road, coffee is going to happen.

That's why this writer set herself the challenge of testing all of Melbourne Airport's coffees.

At first.

The challenge started out all-encompassing one: try all the coffees, regardless of establishment. It had a certain completeness to it. At 10.30am, halfway through the third cup of the day, the rules were altered in the interests of the author avoiding a caffeine overdose. New challenge: try all the coffees being offered by places that present themselves as primarily coffee purveyors.

The challenge began at 8am.

First, Gloria Jean's:
Coffee – medium latte
Price - $4.50

This outlet can be seen all over Melbourne, and the Melbourne Airport chapter isn't much different. There's a certain bitter aftertaste about Gloria Jean's coffee that I can't take, which invariably means it's a last resort, taken with sweet flavouring. It would be unfair to say that this was a terrible coffee – it wasn't – but for that first coffee craving of the morning it failed to satisfy. I did have it on good authority that the soy milk wasn't bad.

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Machinetta's distinctive stovetop.

Machinetta:
Coffee – small latte
Price - $3.60

Attached to Able Baker Charlie in a stall shaped like a stovetop espresso maker, Machinetta has never caught my eye before. I suppose I've assumed that as it's attached to one of the airport's more restauranty-looking restaurants, the coffee would be overpriced and terrible. Big mistake – my latte was not only good, but good enough to compete with any I've had in the city. A gentle coffee, slightly sweet.

Giancarlo:
Coffee – medium latte
Price - $4

Giancarlo served far more than coffee, but as I wasn't dining I felt it a bit rude to take up one of the seats in the busy café. The coffee here was acceptable, the milk creamy.
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Giancarlo - for those happy to take the middle road.


Hudson's Coffee:
Coffee – medium latte
Price - $4.50

Hudson's has a number of outlets in the airport and in my experience they don't differ from any other Hudson's outlet. Much as I've appreciated the easy availability of their coffees after a long flight (and the fact that they're an Australian chain) I can't rank Hudson's anywhere but at the bottom of this challenge. As with Gloria Jean's, they generally require some sugar to balance the bitterness. The former chain only just edges them out for third place.

Café Vue:
Coffee – medium latte
Price - $4.60

This coffee was good for the palate, but the price was less friendly for the pocket. Café Vue is definitely one of the places that takes advantage of its location. Unfortunately they only provided eight seats as well, so my coffee had to be taken a-wandering. This didn't affect the flavour, of course, and I would say that Café Vue could compete with any city coffee.

Hightide:
Coffee – small latte
Price - $4

Hightide is one of the places in Melbourne Airport marketing to the high-flyers, serving fresh meals as well as coffee and harder drinks. As I was just having coffee I was restricted to the lounge area, which afforded quite comfortable seating for someone slowly dying of caffeine overdose. The coffee was average, with a distinctly bitter tone.

Café Arome:
Coffee – medium latte
Price - $3.90

A quick takeaway from Café Arome was my last coffee in the challenge, and I do admit my palate was fatiguing by this point. That said, I expected little from the café that services Tiger Air and was pleasantly surprised.

The winner and champion of this challenge: Maccinetta, by a mile. It's well worth the walk into the international section if you're craving a good coffee.

Note: This challenge did not try the wares of the "cafés" housed within certain fast-food outlets. (I also missed out Villa and Hut, which I have experienced, and would not have graded higher than Gloria Jean's). Frankly, if you buy a coffee from a place whose specialty is pre-fab burgers, you deserve what you get.
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Why? Stuck at Melbourne Airport
Where: Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine
Cost: $3 - $5
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