Toby’s Estate, 325 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

A couple of weeks ago I was wandering aimlessly through Melbourne’s CBD after a meeting at a big law firm. In hindsight, I’m not really sure if I was hungry, cold, thirsty or just in shock after an hour and a half of being in the steely presence of a team of corporate lawyers.

So, in spilling out of their grandiose Collins Street building into Flinders Lane I became acutely aware that I needed a serious exogenous stimulant. Ambling across the narrow causeway I happened upon the bright idea to put my normal dietary practices to one side and console myself with a delicious, proper NY style bagel from Glick’s. Imagine my utter astonishment when I got to the Customs House on Flinders Lane, looked up from the bluestone to find that Glick’s had been replaced with a familiar sign, that of Toby’s Estate – the Sydney founded coffee roasting crew who have become part of the Melbourne Cafe and Roasting furniture.

I took seeing that sign, well, as a sign…, a sign that I had earned a deep warm cup of the black stuff. A cleansing of palate and spirit and at this point it was either coffee or a pint of Guinness at the Bull and Bear.

Walking up the weenie steps and into the shop I was taken immediately by the use of light in the shop. Even on a cold and stormy afternoon in a bluestone wrought laneway, daylight poured through the vaulted windows into a space that felt adult and contemporary (and kinda Grey – Melbourne style) but not stuffy or boring. The layout walks you through a retail section straight up to the busy bar adorned with the stunning Spirit Triplette but what really stood out to me is what appears to be a cupping and training room beyond the bar. It’s sort of similar to the zoo-enclosure feel that you get watching folks cup at Seven Seeds. I learned later that this is the home of their Espresso School. One thing to note is that they have domestic espresso machines in there so you don’t have to learn on a complex industrial machine only to go home and be disappointed by your spluttering Breville (just kidding, I love my Breville).

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Ok, so, onto the actual coffee. If you’ve read this blog before you’ll know that I’m a fan of the ever elusive, ever changing work of interpretive art that is the long macchiato. And, yep, Toby’s deliver their own unique take on it too. Served in a short glass and full to the brim, the long mach , which I was told was made using the Brunswick Blend. Light on froth and tasting faintly of cocoa it was a just the thing to bring back to the land of the living.

With sunny and professional service, a full range of coffees (single origins and blends to keep you busy for weeks), snacks and a fully functional kitchen that appeared to be cranking there are numerous reasons (not just detoxing from a visit to your lawyer) to get yourself into Toby’s Estate on Flinders Lane.

Enjoy, readers.

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Filed under CBD, coffee, Melbourne, Melbourne Laneway, review

Common Galaxia, Victoria St, Seddon

“And I’m goin’ out west
Where they’ll appreciate me”  - Tom Waits

It’s was a long time coming and the coffee addled folks of the inner west have been awaiting its arrival for months, but finally, after what must have been some very frustrating delays, Common Galaxia in Victoria Street, Seddon is finally open to the public (it has actually been open a couple of months now but I have been very tardy in knocking up this post).

It was worth the wait.

When you walk in you feel like you’ve stepped into Wallpaper Magazine (that’s the second magazine simile in two posts!). Polished floors, wooded slats, clean lines, exposed copper, concrete cinders and actual Wallpaper Magazines. They’ve even hidden the cutlery in little drawers around the bigger tables. Very designer.

Given that the proprietors are the same crew who run Deadman Espresso you can take it for granted, friends, that the coffee is superb. And if that’s not enough, take it from me. The coffee is sublime. They rotate the house blends through offerings from Proud Mary, Seven Seeds and Market Lane. Pedigree or what? Yes, there is a bespoke Pour Over platform and a very chic water basin. Don’t miss them.

The food is top notch as well. Warialda Chorizo in baked eggs (genius) and delicate smorrebrod feature heavily in my rotation.

Get over to Seddon and have a gander, you’ll be pleased you did.

 

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September 11, 2012 · 1:22 pm

Patricia Coffee Brewers, Cnr Little Bourke & Little William Street, Melbourne

Where to start? Once again, a coffee proprietor in Melbourne ups the ante and lifts the bar. And it is appropriate that it lifts the bar because this slick-as-all-hell coffee shop is nestled cheek by jowl with members of the VicBar – the home of those oddly dressed barristers and right by the Supreme Court’s judiciary.

Tucked under the Eastern side of Stawell Chambers is Patricia. No, not your fiancee’s mum, but a well appointed, richly designed and massively popular coffee bar. And it is a bar, no seats here, no sir, just shiny benches, wall mounted daily newspapers, classy periodicals, hipsters, lawyers, bankers and bike couriers. Oh, and coffee, really fucking great coffee. In cups. Really stunning cups. You may have your coffee black, white or filtered. And your coffee can be Proud Mary, Seven Seeds or Market Lane.

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The minimalist streak of Patricia works, I think, because the the void is offset by what is there being well-appointed and high quality. It’s sort of like Smith or Frankie Magazine leapt off the page and built a coffee shop. The staff have a uniform, complete with leather smock/apron. What? Exactly. It just works.

I’m not even going to bother talking about the coffee. You just have to visit this place and upon your first glance you’ll see why this marginal blog did not need to add its opinion.

Trish, the Dish.

 

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The Entrepreneurial Coffee Scene

So, I normally just write about places in Melbourne where I’ve been able to find a decent drop of the old Arabian Wine. However, recently here in CaffeineCity we’ve been undertaking preliminary research (i.e. drinking coffee) to assess the viability of a project we’ve dreamt up (so we can drink more coffee).

This got me to thinking about the unending flow of entrepreneurial elements in the cafe/coffee industry. Sure, other industries are replete with entrepreneurial types, some perhaps overflowing with them. But, for a moment, just reflect,  they are all around you, these people, some loud  and some not, but all with ideas, dreams and a singular focus that they hope will bring a little kernel of an idea into a something – a process, a formula, a widget and problem solved – something tangible. They bring you iPhones, algorithims,  software, shoes, cars the list is literally endless.

Perhaps because I am more conscious of it there is something outstanding and something to love about the coffee industry and ‘ideas people’ inside it. Not so much your International Roasts or instant de-caf sachet sellers (I guess they’re entrepreneurs too) but more along the lines of the following:

eCoffeeCard – how many years did you fill your desk draw with paper loyalty cards only to forget them every day when you pop out for a coffee? Then one day a bright spark at Apple dreams up the iPhone and someone in this industry has an ah-ha! moment – voila – an idea is born. See also 365cups.com for another great example off the App variety.

TextSpresso – sure, maybe not about to go to market but it speaks for itself.

What about this chair from ernest.studio? No kidding Melbourne loves a cafe in a broom cupboard and lets be honest, no matter how cool they are milkcrates leave your bum crosshatched like a sudoku puzzle. Then ernest here comes along and bang, problem solved and absolutely zero hipster cred is lost for a space-challenged laneway cafe.

Want more? Go no further than the successful folks at KeepCup. The takeaway cup is as old as Adam’s elbow but no one had thought of combining enviro smarts with barista-standard and cute looking, customisable cups. Now they are a worldwide phenomenon with KeepCup selling over 1 million of these silicone bad boys.

I love hearing about innovations, inventions and ambitious entrepreneurs in the coffee industry so if you have one you reckon should be included in this list. Lemme know below.

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Footscray Milking Station, 35 Bunbury Street, Footscray

If you live or work in the Inner West you may have seen or heard about a new ‘trendy’ looking cafe that was being put together in the wide, tree lined intersection of Bunbury Street and Cowper Street in Footscray, a mere stones throw from The Station Hotel, Footscray Community Arts Centre and all the best Pho joints in town is the Footscray Milking Station, which opened just a few days ago.

It is a lovingly restored milk bar/corner store which is pretty much guaranteed to be a smashing success given the increasing gentrification, growing housing density and relative affordability of the area given its proximity the CBD. Not to mention that we in Melbourne will trek to places distant from us just to say we’ve been there! But I digress. The Milking Station is small inside, resplendent in its bare red brick glory and, true to the theme, decorated with vintage milk pales and steel fabricated drop ceiling lampshades. It actually reminded me of The Pint of Milk, in Newport in the way it is laid out. Both are former milk bars…I think I see a pattern.

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Milky! (Image pinched off someone else's Instagram)

Now, the coffee. Running the widely loved Padre Blend beans from the folks at Padre (South Melbourne Market, Brunswick East Project and League of Honest Coffee) through a little black Slayer the house offering is an agreeable blend which is an easy drinker with or without milk. With milk it gets a little more chocolatey in finish but left black it hits more earthy or nutty. Anyway, it was good enough for me to have three so um yeh, they’re doing alright! Also on offer are fresh juices, T2 Teas an Jarritos mexican sodas! Ole.

The Milking Station is completed by a fully functional kitchen that dishes up panini, muffins, eggs, mueslis and so on and I’m told the kitchen will become more and more productive once the crew find their feet. There is a neatly stacked pantry/deli to the rear of the space and you’ll be able to get your Padre beans from here as well!. Gluten Free muffins and salads were available for glutards.

This is a massively welcome addition to the face of Footscray and might just tempt a few of you to venture West (you brave things you!) down Footscray or Dynon Road in search of yet more coffee.
The Footscray Milking Station

I commend the Footscray Milking Station to you, dear reader.

Footscray Milking Station on Urbanspoon

 

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Filed under coffee, Melbourne, review, Uncategorized, West Melbourne

Cup of Truth, Campbell Arcade, Flinders Street, CBD

When I was in High School, Degraves Street in Melbourne was the epicentre of coffee cool. It was where all the Carribee slingin’, discman listenin’, ciggie smokin’ hard-as-nails (private) school kids would head, in their truancy, to meet fellow maths-dodgers of the same proclivities for a coffee and to bask in their adolescent glory.

At that time I, being one of the aforementioned hard-as-nails coffee sippers, would scurry past the art installations, beggars, buskers and underground t-shirt stores of Flinders Street Station’s Campbell Arcade all the while wondering why there was not a cafe under there. Well, fast forward two university degrees and two jobs and bugger me if someone has not finally cottoned on to my teenage genius and Degraves Street is a little bit passe.

Cup of It.

Seek it.

Cup of Truth has been cranking underground at Flinders Street for a couple of years and despite  there being (or maybe because) no seating to speak of, peak hour coffee here is frenetically busy but warm and friendly. I popped in last week and the scene was like something out of a New York based sitcom (albeit improved by great coffee and a lack of annoying New Yorkers in plaid pants). 20 and 30 somethings shooting the breeze and reading the Friday quiz while smashing down fistfuls of Five Senses and Axil SO.

Despite needing takeaway cup my long mach was unusually good, with a creamy consistency and a sparkly, crackling acid note. Definite heart-starter. Again, I am amazed and enthused by this city’s ability to deposit a solid great cafe at any given location.

Truth.

Cup of Truth on Urbanspoon

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Filed under CBD, coffee, Melbourne, Melbourne Laneway, review, underground

Hans Grüber, Hawke St, West Melbourne

A show of guns who has the single best cafe name in Melbourne and possibly the known universe?

Hans Gruber

That’s right Hans Grüber, you do. Alan Rickman’s Die Hard character of the same name -

Hans Gruber!

… who just happens to be one of the most awesome villains in Hollywood cinema history. And I think that this fact is finally confirmed with this little bit of hipster homage in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. And, if i can continue the wordplay this (die) hard to find coffee haunt is a neat little addition to my neck of ze woods.

Located up a cobblestone path between two nondescript brick buildings at 179-181-ish Hawke St, West Melbourne (between Spencer St and the railway yards) you’ll find a single door fronting a design space warehouse with a small table and some leaning space to sip your coffee in quiet contemplation. There’s a big old kitchen beyond the barista and at the moment it (seems to be) cranking muffins and biscuits to complement the Supreme beans on offer. Understandably, given the dearth of foot traffic and the size it’s only open on weekdays from 7-1:30 and weekends 10:30 to 3 or so and I think they’ll do nicely. Oh and I almost forgot, the coffee (espresso style) is legitimately good too. As one would expect from such timing and delivery as the most stylish villain of them all, Herr Hans Gruber.

Check ‘em out here:

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