February 11, 2020

A Specialty Coffee Shop Tour of Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne has long been considered a global leader when it comes to specialty coffee, and its coffee shops and cafés are no different. Roasters have been improving their approach to the technical aspects of sourcing, preparing, and consuming coffee, and coffee shops have updated their offerings to meet local tastes, as trends lean towards more adventurous and eco-conscious options. 

It’s no surprise then, that former World Barista Champion Pete Licata once said that it’s nearly impossible to find a bad cup of coffee in Melbourne.

Whilst the city is saturated with places where you can experience a great cup of coffee and satisfy your daily caffeine needs, the following five coffee shops would be a good place to start your exploration of what Melbourne’s coffee scene has to offer.

Lee este artículo en español Un Recorrido Por Las Tiendas de Café Especial de Melbourne

The coffee counter at The Hardware Société. Credit: Charlotte Avent

Why These Five?

With over 1600 cafés and restaurants in the city of Melbourne alone, it would take you several months to visit every coffee shop in the area – let alone select the ones with a noteworthy specialty coffee offering. Choosing just five of them was no easy feat, and 2020 will no doubt introduce plenty more coffee shops to Melbourne, and Australia in general.

The following five have been selected based on my personal experiences, as I’ve found them to offer an inclusive experience where you can immerse yourself in your surroundings, while appreciating the passion that goes into creating a cup of coffee.

Alex Zielke serves customers at Bonnie Coffee’s Collins Street branch. Credit: Charlotte Avent

1. Bonnie Coffee

Bonnie Coffee was founded by Melburnians Alex Zielke and Lloyd Smith, and has locations in both Melbourne and Sydney. Their philosophy is to “do one thing, and do it well”, and you can witness this in action by visiting their Collins Street branch. Located in a heritage-listed building, they offer business people and passersby a pit stop, where they can experience five minutes of calm, and a friendly greeting from staff members.

Take time to catch up on the latest news while you wait for your order, as each day’s newspaper will be pinned against the wall. Alternatively, feel free to ask staff members questions, as they’re always open to teaching you a thing or two about how your coffee is being made, and where it comes from.

While they currently source their coffee from producers around the world and roast it themselves, Bonnie Coffee has bigger plans for this year. They’re going to be introducing guest roasters on a quarterly basis, and finding ways to create a more inclusive coffee experience.

Where495 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD
AtmosphereRelaxed and calm
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco Linea Classic 
GrinderMazzer Manual Grinders
Coffee OfferingsA four bean Bonnie Blend and single origins that rotate depending on the season. Currently, they’re from Ethiopia and El Salvador
Must-Try DrinkTry a Cold Drip or Iced Latte in the Summer. Alex’s personal favourite is the espresso
Retail OfferingsPurchase your own coffee, which they’ll grind for use on stove top, filter, cold drip, Aeropress, and more. They also sell a small selection of teas
Food & Other DrinksCookies, cakes, and pastries
Nearby SightsVisit Federation Square for some people watching, or take a stroll down the Southbank and alongside the Yarra River.

Brunch options at the Hardware Société, paired with matcha and iced lattes. Credit: Charlotte Avent

2. The Hardware Société

Boasting a French and Spanish food menu that changes seasonally, The Hardware Société first opened with the primary objective of serving food. Around eight years ago, it extended its offering by teaming up with speciality coffee roasters Padre in East Brunswick to have coffee roasted and supplied to their Melbourne and Paris branches.

They recently moved into new and more spacious premises, with a kitchen four times larger than their previous one, and seating for 110. Head there on a Friday evening to experience a taste of Paris in the heart of Melbourne, where you can enjoy French music, wine on tap, and a selection of European-inspired dishes.

Where10 Katherine Place, Melbourne
AtmosphereBustling and buzzing
Espresso MachineSlayer Steam
GrinderMazzer and Ditting Grinders
Coffee OfferingsIn addition to offering Columbian and seasonal blends, you can try the Hey Buddy Blend from Padre Coffee Roasters
Must-Try DrinkTry their Signature Mocha, which contains 56% chocolate
Retail OfferingsYou can purchase No Eggs on Toast, which is a cookbook of their favourite brunch recipes. They also sell jam, nougat, ceramics, and more
Food & Other DrinksBestsellers include their confit duck pork belly, baked eggs with chorizo sausage, and lobster benedict. They also offer cocktails and boozy tea
Nearby SightsExplore Batman Park, or jump on a boat down the Yarra River. You can also visit the nearby South Melbourne Market

A standard day at the beautiful Brunswick roastery. Credit: Wide Open Road

3. Wide Open Road

Situated in Brunswick, Wide Open Road is an industrial-style specialty coffee roastery and café. Its light, airy and spacious interior features the building’s original brickwork and symmetrical tiling. 

Visit the café and you can enjoy a single origin that rotates daily or two espresso blends, batch brew, pour-over options, and cold and iced drinks. You can also choose to sit at a communal table to participate in conversation, or a cosy booth for privacy or quiet time. 

Wide Open Road sources, roasts, and blends their own coffee – a range of which can be purchased from their website.

Where274 Barkly Street, Brunswick
AtmosphereLaidback and inviting
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco PB, Fetco
GrinderMazzer Robur and Mahlkönig EK43 Grinders
Coffee OfferingsTry their Nitro Cold Brew, which comes in a can
Must-Try DrinkEspresso, filter, with milk or black – take your pick!
Retail OfferingsYou can purchase coffee, brewing equipment, and merchandise designed by in-house designer Adam Parata. You can also get coffee delivered to your door every two weeks with a subscription
Food & Other DrinksThere are vegan and omnivore options, as well as beers and mimosas
Nearby SightsVisit the nearby Princess Park to sit in the sun and people watch

A barista brews coffee, while customers observe. Credit: Aunty Pegs

4. Aunty Pegs

Covering two stories, Aunty Pegs is a coffee bar that also doubles as a roasting house, events space, retail shop, and barista training centre. On any given day, you can find three single origin coffees being showcased, according to a theme that changes every month. 

With free weekly community cupping events taking place on Saturdays, visitors can try out a new micro-lots, seasonal blend, or staff favourite. As for the coffee, each one available can be consumed as espresso, filter, or cold drip. 

If you want to give home brewing a try, you can also try out a variety of brewing devices such as V60 and AeroPress in store before you purchase them. 

Where200 Wellington Street, Collingwood
AtmosphereWarm and inclusive 
Espresso MachineThree custom-built Single Group Synessos
GrinderFour Mahlkönig EK43 grinders 
Coffee OfferingsThree varieties from Honduran producer Nahun Fernande are currently being showcased, with upcoming offerings to come from Panama
Must-Try DrinkTry the SnapChill, a method for producing cleaner cold coffee with nitro, conceptualised by Director Nolan Hirte
Retail OfferingsA variety of manual brewing devices are available for purchase
Food & Other DrinksA variety of cakes and cookies are available
Nearby SightsExplore the neighbourhood of Collingwood, which has many roasteries, bars, restaurants, and galleries to explore

Sparkling Cold Brew being poured from a beer tap. Credit: Plug Nickel

5. Plug Nickel

Plug Nickel first set up base in 2016, and they’re open from Wednesday until Sunday, into the evenings, to serve customers. Their coffee comes from Canberra-based roaster ONA, and they also offer beverages on the go via a takeaway window for speedy delivery.

If you do decide to enter the premises, you can take a seat and try out Owner and Chef Tyler Preston’s small but curated menu created for you to eat exclusively by hand. Alternatively, you can spend an evening sipping a nitro-charged espresso martini, cold beer, or natural wine from their extensive collection.

Where7 Peel Street, Collingwood
AtmosphereCool and comfortable
Espresso MachineTwo Anfim Scodys
GrinderMahlkönig EK43 Grinder
Coffee OfferingsONA coffee is served, as well as an Ethiopian blend comprising of three different origins: Ethiopia Red (Natural), Ethiopia White (Washed), and Ethiopia Indigo (Carbonic Maceration)
Must-Try DrinkTry the Sparkling Cold Brew
Retail Offerings250g bag of coffee beans, homemade chilli jam, and hot sauces are on offer
Food & Other DrinksTry the sparkling Cascara on tap, or a hot toddy, hot chocolate, or chai 
Nearby SightsSpend some time exploring Collingwood, which has a rich arts and culture scene

Luna Park in Melbourne.

Coffee culture in Melbourne is laid-back and relaxed, with each coffee shop offering you a chance to start a conversation or take five minutes to watch the world go by. Here, you’ll find people who are passionate about educating customers on how their coffee has arrived in their cup, and what it’s all about.

With creativity, expertise, and precision behind the seed to cup process a common feature in most places you step foot in – wherever you go, you won’t be disappointed. 

Feature photo: A barista prepares a coffee at Wide Open Road. Feature photo credit: Wide Open Road

All views within this opinion piece belong to the guest writer, who is a local of Melbourne, and do not reflect Perfect Daily Grind’s stance.

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