Melbourne’s Best Cafes 2010

Five or six years ago, in spite of Melbourne’s supposed reputation as the ‘coffee capital’ of Australia, most of the running in espresso coffee was happening in Sydney, with great names like Single Origin, Mecca and more recently, The Source.

However in the last couple of years, that has changed and Melbourne is firmly re-established as the nation’s coffee capital! Some of the things that distinguish our top cafes are the same that we pointed out in our last ‘Best cafes of Sydney’ issue [Crema Summer 2009] – namely that our top cafes generally roast their own coffee and that they all have an uncompromising attitude towards freshness and coffee quality.

As these innovative purists continue to set the bar even higher, the coffee consumer and cafe patron are being educated, whether knowingly or not, as to how great their coffee experience can be.

Although it’s difficult to keep churning out great coffee time-after time, these cafes have a commitment to quality and a pursuit of excellence that makes it not just a possibility but a reality. This new breed of Melbourne cafes are riding the ‘wave’ and leave many of the old names in the dust, and we firmly believe they are the equal of any in the world – enjoy!



1. Auction Rooms

103-107 Errol Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051

Tel: 03 9326 7749

Although Andrew Kelly at Auction Rooms comes across as being very laid-back, his relaxed attitude belies a serious commitment to high-quality coffee. One of a new breed of espresso purists he was  searching for opportunity  to open a cafe of his own and to find ways to ‘push the boundaries’ of espresso coffee.

After finding the site of Auction Rooms in early 2007 [in what at that stage was the 'sleepy hollow' of North Melbourne] he set about renovating and remodelling  the original old auction rooms into a light airy space reminiscent of ‘installation art’, using recycled materials wherever possible. This turned out to be a bigger task than he expected, but in April 2008 Auction Rooms was opened, and has never looked back. He has recently opened a roastery [just down the road] called ‘Small Batch’ which re-inforces his roasting ethos of taking extreme care over roasting small lots of exceptional coffee.

Examples include ‘Cup of Excellence’ coffees such as Lot 21 Helcio Carneiro Pinto Junior – Sitio Monte Verde from Brazil and Nicaraguan Lot 19 Esperanza del Carmen Tercero Monca – La Esperanza, which will be arriving in the country late July. These to complement fine ‘regular’ origins such as Ecuador El Guabo -Teofilo Jimenez Microlot and Costa Rica Lourdes de Naranjo – Finca Genesis. You might at first think that a cafe that prides itself on excellent coffee couldn’t possibly do great food as well, but Auction Rooms cracks this pre-conception wide open. Superb.




Maling Room



2. Maling Room

206 Canterbury Rd (Cnr Maling and Canterbury Rds)
Canterbury VIC 3126
Tel: 03 9836 9889

We’ve rated Maling Room very highly for a number of years, more for its coffee than its food, although its breakfast menu is also highly creditable. Housed in a former post office, The Maling Room has played a significant role in developing  specialty coffee as it is in Melbourne today. Roasting on-site on a 5kg Renegade roaster, using a pair of Synesso espresso machines and an original 1957 Faema lever, an ever changing offering of single origins are served alongside a seasonal house blend which are all available to take home.
With its recent participation in a group buy of a Nicaraguan Cup of Excellence lot, barista competition involvement and their continued passion for specialty coffee, The Maling Room will be shaping Melbourne’s coffee landscape for years to come.



Market Lane

3. Market Lane

Shop 13 Prahran Market
163 Commercial Road
South Yarra VIC 3141

Tel:  03 9804 7434


Few cafes can legitimately lay claim to being at the cutting edge of Melbourne’s coffee evolution but Market Lane is a genuine contender.

Perched on the ‘edge’ of the Prahran Market precinct, they have a focus on alternative preparation techniques such as ceramic pour-over, and a keen eye for sourcing and roasting enticing beans. Recent examples on the menu include Carmo Estate from Brazil – with notes of blackcurrant and cocoa and Kenyan Mbee – sweet and complex, with notes of passionfruit, vanilla and rose hip tea. They also do 10.00am cuppings for enthusiasts.

Head barista and co-owner Jason Scheltus heads up an impressive team that includes co-owner Fleur Studd (Melbourne Coffee Merchants), and recent recruit Toshiyuki Ishiwata (Toshi), arguably one of the country’s finest roasters. Highly recommended.




Seven Seeds

4. Seven Seeds

106 – 114 Berkeley St
Carlton VIC 3053

Tel:(03) 9347 8664

Mark Dundon’s latest effort brings new life to the warehouses of inner Carlton. Behind a slightly unprepossessing exterior lies a stylised and slightly cavernous cafe space, with the roastery visible through viewing windows out the back. The decor is quite striking, with a bare, almost minimalist effect  and metal chairs and military stencilled cutlery boxes giving unique utilitarian undertones. There’s nothing utilitarian about the coffee though, which like the simple but delicious food, is of a high standard.

With a selection of single origin and blends to chose from, the Rwandan Musasa had a juicy fruity acidity, a round, low body with a lovely aftertaste, while the flat white [Seven Seeds blend] enjoyed a velvety mouth feel with a full bodied flavour, hints of chocolate and nuts, a soft finish and a dark crema. After hugely successful achievements in the Melbourne cafe scene [most recently Brother Baba Budan and St Ali] Mark’s latest venture doesn’t disappoint.




Proud Mary

5. Proud Mary

172 Oxford Street
Collingwood VIC 3066

Tel: 03 9417 5930

One of Melbourne’s newest specialty coffee destinations, owner Nolan Hirte has expanded on what he began at Liar Liar to make his new cafe a benchmark for others.

Greeted by the world’s only 6 group Synesso you would expect espresso to be the main focus at Proud Mary. But you will soon discover a Clover machine, syphon bar and an Über boiler used for the several other filter brewing methods available. This sort of range of coffee offerings gives customers a breadth of coffee experience and an education for the coffee palate like no other.

A range of single origins are on offer and roasted in house by Nolan on a 1kg Giesen roaster with blends roasted by Five Senses. These guys just seem to nail it time after time and are poised once again to leap to the forefront of coffee excellence.

206 Canterbury Rd (Cnr Maling and Canterbury Rds)

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