Coffee: the quintessential Melbourne experience
WHEN Marcella Purnama moved to Melbourne she didn’t just fall in love with the city, she fell in love with its favourite pastime, coffee. She shares her infatuation with the aromatic brew.
Sitting here in a well-known five-bean-rated cafe sipping my cup of coffee, I begin to wonder about how I came to fall in love with this divine culinary art form. Was it the aroma? Was it the caffeine? Was it the silky milk froth that you can never make at home?
Fascinated, I put down my cup and started thinking, but nothing came. I looked around, getting lost in the busy afternoon of people ordering their brunch and laughing to each other with their cups of coffee in hand. After a long pause, suddenly, I smiled, I knew exactly why I loved coffee.
Do you still remember your first cup? Mine was back in Indonesia when I was still in high school. My older sister and I went to Starbucks and she ordered a mocha. She insisted I should take a sip and I did. I didn’t like it. It tasted weird and I gave the takeaway cup right back to her.
My second exposure to coffee was here in Melbourne. As a first year university student, I was told coffee would become your best friend in times of chaos. Inspired, I went, again with my older sister, to Gloria Jeans and both of us ordered a mocha. But this time, I saw coffee in a different light. It became much more than a drink. It became an elixir rich in flavours. Bitter, kind of sweet, acidic.
Before I knew it, I started visiting cafes around town hoping to find the best shot to satisfy my passion.
For me, coffee became an expression of art translated into a cup. Now I can’t get enough of that smell of roasted coffee beans when I first enter a cafe. That rich, flavourful and pleasant aroma. I love the perfect rosetta formed using the silky froth that sits atop an untouched latte – it’s beautiful. I love the nutty, aromatic smell just before I take my first sip. And I love the warm, lovely sensation that stays on my tongue for a few seconds afterwards.
But to be honest, I’m not just infatuated with the coffee itself. I have always loved the atmosphere of a cafe as well. It’s a place to chill and catch-up with your friends. A spot for a romantic evening with your partner. Or just a chance for you to relax, escape from your problems for a while and get lost in a totally different world.
People who love to drink wine will know that balance is the Holy Grail. Like wine, the bitterness and acidity of coffee needs to be in perfect balance for it to be a good cup. But let me tell you this, no one can force you to like a certain type of coffee. Soy latte, decaf mocha, strong cappuccino, espresso or weak flat white – it’s all your choice.
My first decent cup in Melbourne was at Seven Seeds, and I go back there once in a while when I want to indulge myself. The warehouse cafe definitely has that city style, with bicycles parked next to the door. As I enter, I can see the vintage roasting machines and coffee plants on display. Strong coffee aromas awaken my senses.
With high hopes and higher expectations, I find a comfortable seat in the corner and wait for the waiter to bring me the menu. “Regular latte,” I say, and not long after the waiter brings it. I can feel the caffeine rush to my brain after the very first sip. The thick, lively and acidic coffee is the perfect temperature. The texture of the frothed milk is smooth, silky and viscous, with not a trace of bubble. It’s exactly the cup of coffee that always makes me want to hug the barista and tell him how awesome he is.
It was a lovely afternoon indeed.
Seven Seeds is at 114 Berkeley St, Carlton, just outside the CBD, close to both the Queen Victoria Market and Melbourne University. It’s open Monday to Saturday 7am-5pm and Sunday 8:00am-4pm. Details: www.sevenseeds.com.au
When did you fall in love with coffee and where? Tell us in the comments section below.