You already know Melbourne is famous for its cafes and coffee. Next time you’re in town, go beyond the well-known cafes and venture instead to these under-the-radar Melbourne coffee shops for some seriously satisfying cups of caffeine and farm-fresh dishes.
Known for producing its own delicious blends and single origin beans, Proud Mary is where coffee-swilling Melbourne hipsters head for quality brews. Despite being in the rough-round-the-edges Collingwood neighborhood, Proud Mary is surprisingly slick and shiny, a nod to the area’s gentle gentrification. The main attraction is the custom-made Synesso espresso machine — a chrome and wooden monster with a foot-pedal-operated steamer — that churns out coffee by the gallon. And what coffee it is — silky, creamy and with just a touch of bitterness.
Must try: The fluffy ricotta pancakes, topped with spiced nectarine, citrus marscapone and ginger butterscotch may have you moving to Melbourne.
172 Oxford Street, Collingwood, Melbourne, Australia, (+61) 3-9417-5930.
Bright and energetic, The Bakers Wife is a worthy reason to make a trek down to the southeastern suburb of Camberwell. Coffee worshippers flock to this rustic-industrial hybrid space, but it’s the food that has fans lining out the doors. Owner Beejan Degani’s been baking for 27 years, and it shows. Alongside his wife Dora — who inspired the café’s name — Degani whips up smart, delicious dishes built on his delicious baked goods.
Must try: The French Toast is a winning combination of Challah, rhubarb and strawberry compote, spiced ricotta, and topped with Canadian maple syrup.
414 Burke Road, Camberwell, Melbourne, Australia, (+61) 4-0319-4104.
Amid interiors of exposed brick walls and recycled wood, Miss Marmalade serves up exceptionally creamy coffees — made with Five Senses beans — while the seasonal menu focuses on simple fare with a dash of creativity. It’s almost enough to forgive them for taking the drool-worthy pulled pork ‘manwiches’ off their menu.
Must try: Go for the flavor-packed Gingerbread Hotcakes with ‘drunken pears,’ berry coulis, orange mascarpone and pistachios.
126 Union Street, Brunswick, Melbourne, Australia, (+61) 3-9388-8202.
In a city that prides itself on quality coffee, the list of standout cafes is long and distinguished. But few turn out a roast as well as The Vertue of the Coffee Drink. Hidden off café-famous Lygon Street, Vertue really plays up the industrial-slash-rustic interiors trend that seems to be ubiquitous these days, but no matter because their coffee is THAT good. Caffeine fiends stroll through a gas station and a dilapidated terrace before grabbing a rough wood table in the barn-feel space draped by a skylight. Coffees here feature the 1652 House blend, and complement a mouth-watering menu overseen by Damien Taylor.
Must try: The ode-to-perfection Kansas Fried Chicken Burger — buttermilk crispy chicken and Vertue’s own coleslaw, served in a brioche bun and with a side of curly fries.
8 Raffa Place, Carlton, Melbourne, Australia, (+61) 3-8060-6987.
The West Footscray neighborhood may have a bad reputation, but the once-gritty area is in the process of reinventing itself, and new-kid-on-the-block Brother Nancy is leading the culinary charge with a menu that punches above its weight. You’ll find the usual Melbourne brunch fare here, but young French chef Jordi Boyer is bringing some continental Masterchef flair with his innovative dishes. Finish with a caffeinated bevvy and baked treats courtesy of Proud Mary.
Must try: The perfectly seasoned beef tartare is back by popular demand, and the eight-hour lamb shepherd’s pie is also a treat.
128 Essex Street, West Footscray, Melbourne, Australia, (+61) 4-3931-8820.