Ever since the first coffee houses blossomed in Constantinople in the 1500s, we humans have enjoyed the many virtues of the coffee drink. Today in Melbourne the worship of the coffee bean is stronger than ever. People meet in little cafes down side alleys to sip the brew and enjoy the many benefits of this drink that "quickens the Spirits, and makes the Heart Lightsome."
Vertue Coffee epitomises Melbourne's wonderful cult of coffee. It has everything, including a miniature doorway down a laneway off a laneway, a gorgeous industrial-chic fit out, great food, and of course, all the coffee. Carlton denizens come to enjoy the atmosphere, the conversation, and the gastronomical offerings.
Vertue Coffee takes its name from this wonderful historical advertisement, the first coffee advertisement we know of, taken from a 1652 London coffee house:
Finding Vertue coffee is an experience in itself, and for those not-so-great at reading Google Maps on cracked phone screens, it can be challenging. Raffa Place is found near the corner of Lygon St and Elgin St, but not quite on the corner, no. Behind a service station, past a few cute terrace houses, near some bins. There is a sign, but it's likely hidden behind a car.
You first come into a dark space, as if the beans can't take too much sunlight. Much like me before my morning coffee. It's here that the serious business of making the coffee happens. Their coffee menu changes according to the roast of the day, so to know what they do, you just have to go experience it. Each day they offer a selection of single origin, Estate and Microlot coffees.
Where else to start but by ordering a coffee? This was my first coffee of the day, so far from savouring it and taking notes, I just make happy grunting noises and ordered a second. I think the second one was delicious too. But I might need a third, just to be sure.
Next comes the food. Like all wonderful venues, Vertue coffee offers an all day breakfast, so I knew I was sorted. There are several gluten-free offerings, and I settled on the cedar smoked salmon with polenta crumbed eggs, goats curd, salmon caviar and pea puree.