Melbourne has an iconic coffee culture and for those of us who are aficionados out there, it’s not all just about the bean, but for the experience and sense of familiarity and comfort it brings to us in the morning, or any time of day for that matter. The smell, smoothness of the crema, silkiness and texture of the milk, are all things which Melbournians dedicate their time and passion to. There is a sense of pride and an art form connected to making a quality espresso, long black, cappuccino, latte, long and short macchiato etc.
It’s a city that moves quickly, it’s fast paced and busy, with not always a lot of time to sit down to enjoy a coffee, in which case we enjoy it on the go. The street I recently created shares my favourite, and what I personally deem, the best coffee break spots in Melbourne. Only have 15 to 30 minutes to spare? Then these are my gift to you:
Café Del Mar is Spanish in origin, its twin resides in Ibiza, however this Del Mar in particular is located on Koornang Road, Carnegie, Melbourne. Managed and run by a beautiful young Greek couple and friends of the family, it’s a welcoming atmosphere, always busy and bustling with regulars. Its front, middle and courtyard area (ideal in the summer) are embellished with straw umbrellas and woven seats; big wooden pillars; and painted Muriel’s of beautiful beaches and landscapes from Spain – it feels like you’re on holiday. The staffers are always smiling, and the front counters, laden with freshly made sweet and savoury Greek treats. The familiar smell of their freshly baked raspberry and blueberry muffins is what gets me up and raring to go in the morning, or their hot jam donuts which are sold out before you can even catch a glimpse (you have to be lightning fast). Another morning go-to is Santucci’s, for a silky, extra hot, full bodied coffee, and their local favourite, the orange pistachio biscotti, it makes the walk to work or study breaks a sweet convenience.
As soon as summer rolls back around, it’s all about the Goathouse Roastery in Elsternwick; they’ll be seeing this face regularly until the end of March 2014. The outside decking area is perfect in the warm weather, with overhanging trees that shade you from the glaring sun. It’s beautifully adorned with plants, and flowers that sit in glass vases atop each of the tables (too cute). I have fond but not so distant memories of my younger sister and I walking down the Elsternwick shopping strip merely just out of bed on a Sunday morning, to get a seat on the decking. I remember the late morning’s rays with what was left of the cool air still lingering, and the familiar smell of their aromatic chai tea lattes. They were, and still are, to my knowledge, served in adorable vintage jugs of frothed milk infused with their chai tea leaves (their secret blend which they are not willing to divulge) – my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Seven Seeds and the Artful Dodger are go-to’s for the perfect espresso kick. Both are always abuzz with life and chatter and the staff are the friendliest. They’re always willing to strike up conversation, whether it’s to ask how your day was or to tell you something new and interesting you didn’t know. Fun facts and being made to feel like you matter give you just as much of a kick as a hit of caffeine. You never know, you might learn something.
Huff Bagelry is a local favourite. It’s very contemporary but speaks true to the traditional layout of a small bakery. Their attention to detail is something special, which will always be remembered. It’s like a warm hug on a wintery day when your coffee is placed in front of you, without you having to say a word, and you feel like they know you. The one thing that is always a challenge however, is sitting there with an array of very scrumptious looking high carb goodies staring at you right in the face from the front counter – guilty as charged, my coffee is never on its lonesome.
Last but certainly not the least (ever), if it’s been a bad day and you’re looking for a little pick me up to feel special again, traipse your woe-is-me self into Koko Black and experience the sophistication. Fancy chocolate and coffee should be married – a match made in heaven. For those of you who like your coffee black and your chocolate even darker, Koko Black is your long lost lover. I’ll let you in on a secret – the dark hazelnut clusters, salted caramels, and if you’re a fan of chocolate orange, the orange segments are always a winner.
Equal to the quality of the coffee, there should be no lack of experience and atmosphere; interesting conversation; new friends; or coffee art that is specially made to make you smile. A coffee break is that little part of a person’s day, that can make everything better, and for some, it is a moment of solitude, and a ritual that should not be passed up for anything.
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