Aunty Peg’s, Collingwood, Victoria
If you love coffee, then take a journey around Melbourne to discover some of its best cafes and roasteries in the city.
Melbourne is often billed as Australia’s coffee capital since its streets and laneways are crawling with excellent coffee shops. Here is a guide to 11 places best known for their amazing coffee as well as their interesting interior and atmosphere.
Aunty Peg’s is the showroom/coffee bar of specialty coffee roasters Proud Mary, serving some of the best coffee in Melbourne. Located in a warehouse in a semi-industrial area of Collingwood, Aunty Peg’s does all their roasting on site. They even have a temperature and humidity controlled room for healthy storage of green coffee beans. There is an upstairs area dedicated to training new baristas in both espresso and filter coffee. The main coffee bar is adorned with an absurd amount of specialty equipment. Four Mahlkonig grinders seem to be straight out of Darth Vader’s kitchen, while there seems to be about 30 kettles lying around, constantly brewing stuff. Rather than a traditional espresso machine, three single group Synesso Hydra’s are inbuilt to the bar, allowing three different baristas to serve coffee at various sections. Each barista also has their own V60 stand next to their Hydra and a couple of taps pumped with nitrogen ready to serve you some tasty cold-brew. If you’re in Melbourne make this a priority to visit.
ST ALI COFFEE ROASTERS
St Ali falls under the umbrella of Melbourne coffee pioneer Salvatore Malatesta’s ever expanding conglomerate. With a heavy emphasis on specialty coffee, you can’t go wrong with your order. On the specials board is written, "All of our coffee is special" and on another board above the retail coffee rack reads "decaf is like kissing your brother". You get the idea, despite the light hearted statements, you get a sense that they take their brews seriously. The food is also exceptional making St Ali worth queueing up for with friends.
580 Bench is just as its name suggests - it’s located on 580 St Kilda Road and it’s furnished with a very long marble bench. And as far as cafes in a foyer go, this is one of the best we’ve seen. Less is more, the design is clean and minimalist. The only decoration here is a prismatic light installation sitting in a corner behind the counter. The giant communal table next to it is the perfect place for relaxing and people-watching as office workers constantly come and go.
The coffee served is roasted by Small Batch in Melbourne, while a rotating host of other guest roasters also features. A natural Ethiopian was being served at the time we visited and displayed all the true characteristics of such a coffee - Powerful berry notes dominated, developing into dark chocolate on the finish.
THE MALING ROOM
An old post office serves as the home for this unique cafe. Aside from the name, the only other hint of the venue's previous tenant is the postage motifs on the stained glass windows. Take a seat in the large semi-circular room containing the coffee bar, or enjoy the morning sunshine on the outdoor tables.
The coffee is roasted on site, under the name of Symmetry Coffee Roasters. The Costa Rican El Conquistador pour-over we ordered was soft and delicate, with hints of milk chocolate flavours up front that finished through to a rich pecan finish.
Industry Beans is a stylish cafe in the heart of Melbourne’s creative hub Fitzroy. The coffee is roasted on site in a Giesen roaster, which hides from plain sight at the back of the premises. You can enjoy the different brews either indoor or outdoor in the garden area under the pergola. And if Industry Beans doesn’t satisfy your caffeine craving, Gertrude St and Brunswick St nearby contain a host of other high quality cafes just a stone’s throw away.
This interesting cafe occupies a corner block looking out onto Malvern Road. Coffee is sourced from local speciality roaster Five Senses, delivering everything you expect from a high quality roaster, with a special Mammoth blend served in white coffees, and a rotating single origin for black.
Coffee Supreme is a company that originated from New Zealand in 1993. And since 2001, they've been roasting and serving Melbournians amazing coffee and may even have had an influence in the development of specialty coffee in this city.
The Abbotsford Club serves as Coffee Supreme’s roastery and flagship store in Victoria. If things get a bit busy in the morning whilst you’re waiting for breakfast or a takeaway, don't hesitate to dig into the complimentary batch-brew coffee underneath their retail shelf. The only thing they do better than their awesome coffee is their heart-warming customer service. Outdoor seating is perfect for afternoons in the sun enjoying a chemex or three, and if craft beer is your thing, pop around the corner to Moon Dog brewery to shake off the caffeine.
Plug Nickel occupies a small corner block in Collingwood, and dishes out fantastic coffee roasted by Canberra legend ONA. The interior has a somewhat industrial feel with a lot of small antique iron touches throughout the space. Even the customised San Remo Opera espresso machine has a metal plate bolted onto the front panel to add to the look.
The coffee menu consists of espresso, filter and nitro brew options. All are pretty awesome, and so is the food. While you sample your way through each of those, be sure to order a breakfast roti (bacon and egg in a fantastic Indian-styled wrap) and dollop some of the house made spicy sauce on top.
Assembly Coffee is located in the busy cafe/restaurant area that is Carlton. It is a relatively small cafe, with a counter top, a few tables on one side, and a separate entrance for customers drinking and purchasing specialty coffee/tea on the other. We set up camp in the latter and had a great time chatting with the barista who was more than happy to brew up a few beverages for us. We tried a range of espressos, pour-overs and cocolas by various roasters.
If we knew a bit more about specialty tea we probably would have sampled the range there as well, due to a seemingly even emphasis on both in the brew section. If you’re around Carlton paying a quick visit here will be well worth your time.
WIDE OPEN ROAD
Wide Open Road has an awesome cafe up front and some serious coffee roasting out the back. Delicious food and beverages are served in a welcoming space that immediately feels familiar, like an old classroom that you've thrown too many paper planes in. Be sure to bring your appetite and check out the board behind the espresso machine for the latest coffee offerings.
Any amount of time spent in Melbourne can be complemented by a trip to the historic Queen Victoria Market. The place has a little something for everybody, from clothing stores to organic produce, boutique wine shops and even seafood. Amongst the stalls in the Art Deco delicatessen hall resides Market Lane Coffee.
Similar to the other vendors in the building, Market Lane, exudes a sense of quality through its thick marble bench tops and brass framed roller shutters. This place has the most Instagrammable coffee cup ever.
The coffee lives up to the aesthetics, with three different V60 filter offerings plus black and white espresso coffees. Not sure what you're after? Ask away. To say that the staff are patient is an understatement. On a very busy day, I asked for an opinion on which bag of coffee to take home, and was treated like an old friend by not one, but two baristas.
This article originally appeared on Townske.
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