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Melbourne’s Top 10 Cafes

Marcella Purnama

Tue Jan 22 2013

Melbourne’s top 10 cafes

BEFORE Marcella Purnama left Australia for her hometown of Jakarta, the self-confessed super barista took a walk down memory lane to compile her list of the top 10 cafes in Melbourne.

Coffee. The aroma of freshly ground coffee beans. The sound of frothing milk. The beautiful latte art. Oh, I will miss Melbourne terribly.

Melbourne is to coffee like a stamp is to an envelope. Be it a latte, espresso, cappuccino, mocha or flat white. Be it poured over, filtered or siphoned. Coffee in Melbourne is the best you could ever ask for, if you know where to go.

After three years of indulging myself in this pleasantly wonderful lifestyle, visiting more than a hundred coffee shops and drinking tonnes of coffee, I can finally share this list. This has been my secret project since my first year here. I have visited all the city’s well-known cafe places and I have rated them.

And here is my definitive list of the best places to go for coffee (and food) in Melbourne:

10. Auction Rooms

This used to be my favourite, but ever since they stopped serving not one, but two of my favourite dishes, I changed my loyalty. The ocean trout salad and pork belly were the best things in Melbourne. Unfortunately, they were victims of a menu refresh, and the new food, well, in my opinion, is not that good. The coffee’s great though.

That said, Auction Rooms is one of the warehouse-cafes that captures the essence of Melbourne coffee culture. The other upside is it’s spacious, and hence, there’s less waiting time!

Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 7am to 5pm; Thursday – Friday: 7am to 10pm; Saturday: 7.30am to 10pm; Sunday: 7.30am to 5pm.

Auction Rooms on Urbanspoon

9. Three Bags Full

Photos: Karen Poh

Photos: Karen Poh

Three Bags Full has the best big breakfast in town. But the coffee tends towards the acidic side. Another downside? The waiting time. Despite its super big space, there are always people. In fact, there are usually more people than seats. Simply put – don’t bother coming here on weekends.

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 7am to 5pm; Saturday – Sunday: 8am to 5pm.

Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon

8. Hardware Societe

Pictured right, baked eggs at Hardware Societe. Photos: Karen Poh (Left) and littleyeye via flickr (right)

Colourful saucers, knitted teapot covers and wooden tables – you can’t help but fall in love with Hardware Societe. The milk is divine (that is, if you go for a latte or its siblings) and the food is wonderful. I still believe they have the best baked eggs in all of Melbourne.

Downside? Again, the waiting time. Despite its expansion to double the original space, you can still wait from 10 minutes to two hours depending on the queue. Ugh.

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 7.30am to 3pm; Saturday – Sunday: 8.30am to 2pm.

The Hardware Sociéte on Urbanspoon

7. Di Bella Roasting Warehouse

Photos: Karen Poh

What is in North Melbourne? Despite being only a 15-minute walking distance from the city, this suburb is not an international student haunt. Shame because Di Bella cafe’s ocean trout salad is top notch. Imagine fresh salad with lots of flavour and your favourite fish. Yum. Coffee bean roasting is done in the venue, producing a beantastic aroma!

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 7am to 5pm; Saturday – Sunday: 7.30am to 4pm.

Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse on Urbanspoon

6. Market Lane

Market Lane’s coffee is one of my favourites in Melbourne. So far, two shops are open – one in Victoria Market and another at Prahran Market. There’s no food, but yes, going all the way to Prahran is worth it even if it’s just for the coffee. Although I’m biased as I had my first date here with my boyfriend.

Opening Hours: Tuesday, Thursday – Saturday: 7am to 5pm; Wednesday: 7am to 4pm; Sunday: 9am to 4pm.

Market Lane Cafe on UrbanspoonMarket Lane Coffee on Urbanspoon

5. Proud Mary

A friendly reminder: if you decide to go here, make sure it’s not on a weekend. This cafe is always jam-packed. Coffee is marvelous here, but the star is the food. Their dishes are Asian-inspired and their pork belly sandwich is definitely a divine intervention.

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 7am to 4pm; Saturday – Sunday: 8am to 4pm.

Proud Mary on Urbanspoon

4. Sensory Lab

No food here, but it’s close at hand. Sensory Lab is located inside David Jones and has always been my quick fix whenever I want to get a good coffee with literally no waiting time in the city. It’s open till late (a gem, really, as most good cafes close at 4pm), and the coffee has never been off in the three years I’ve been visiting.

Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 7am to 6pm; Thursday – Friday: 7am to 9pm; Saturday: 8am to 7pm; Sunday: 9am to 6pm.

Sensory Lab on Urbanspoon

3. Two Birds One Stone

Photo: ultrakml via flickr

This newly-opened cafe in South Yarra has left a deep impression on me. The beautiful interior design – a combination of warehouse and modern, with hints of Japanese/ “oriental” – influences are just gorgeous. The food, especially the pork belly buns, is another delicacy. Love. It.

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 7am to 4pm; Saturday – Sunday: 8am to 4pm.

Two Birds One Stone on Urbanspoon

2. Twenty & Six Espresso

Photos: Karen Poh

The Geisha (left) and the Le Alumelle (right) Photos: Karen Poh

Another North Melbourne cafe! This local spot has the best mushroom and bacon plate, ever. The coffee is marvelous, service is good and it’s local – meaning, you don’t have to wait too long for a table. Enough said.

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 7am to 5pm; Saturday – Sunday: 8am to 4pm.

Twenty & Six Espresso on Urbanspoon

… and my number one pick…

1. Porgie and Mr. Jones

Photo: avlxyz via flickr

This cafe requires a bit of travel (okay, more than a bit), but it’s really, really worth it. The suburb is Hawthorn and it’s a 30-minute trip from the city. The steak sanga is the best meaty dish ever – steak, bacon, beetroot relish, poached egg, and roasted tomatoes. Super. Yum.

The coffee, needless to say, is awesome. I especially love the milk. Plus, this cafe is open till dinner time on Fridays and Saturdays! Yay!

Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday: 8am to 4pm; Friday: 8am to 11.30pm; Saturday: 8.30am to 11.30pm; Sunday: 8.30am to 4pm.

Porgie and Mr Jones on Urbanspoon

Of course, there are plenty more wonderful places to have brunch in Melbourne. La Miel et la Lune, for example, has the best omelette in my opinion. While 65 Degrees has the best Egg Benedict.

Countless coffee shops like Coin Laundry, The League of Honest Coffee, Duchess of Spotswood, Seven Seeds and Manchester Press didn’t make it on the list but are still worth a mention!

Do you agree with Marcella’s picks? Which Melbourne cafes are on your list? Share in the comments box belows!