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Coffee in Melbourne, Italian style

Meld Magazine

Mon Apr 21 2014


A SHORT black is the only way to enjoy coffee, says Giulia Poloni. Find out why the Italian exchange student has skipped Melbourne’s hipster joints in a search for the perfect Italian cuppa. 


If you’re in Australia looking for a good coffee, Melbourne is the place to be. This city has developed a strong cafe culture over the years that is only growing. Turn any corner and you’ll find a cafe, whether you’re in the CBD or beachside St. Kilda.

But while cafes are aplenty, for visiting Italians however, finding an espresso up to standard is a challenge.

To us, a short black is the only way to have your coffee. Everything else is for bluffers.

And to me, a cup of liquid gold is a fundamental matter of everyday routine.

How can you start your day without the sacred nectar of the Gods? How can you relax during your break if you don’t have a cup of that delicious black liquid in front of you?

But coffee is not a race, it doesn’t really matter if you think one place is better than the other, as long as you are happy with what you are drinking.

As an Italian caffeine-addict, I found myself on a journey through the streets of Melbourne, hoping to finally savour the taste I was craving for.

The first attempts were a complete disaster. One day I was about to sit down in a cafe near Flinders Street when the waitress warned me, in Italian, “Do you want to order a coffee? Don’t. It’s terrible here”.

The search continued in other suburbs, as some Australian friends suggested. In many places, the coffee wasn’t bad, but it never quite reached the Italian standard; that specific taste seemed impossible to find.

Unfortunately, not even Google was my friend this time. Searching online turned out to be confusing and misleading.


Right when I was about to give it all up, on my way home I stopped at a bistro called Tiamo on Lygon St.

When you walk in, coffee is not the first thing that comes to mind. At first glance it’s an Italian restaurant, like many others in the area and different from all the “hipster-like” cafes around the city.

Tiamo on Urbanspoon

It did feel authentically Italian though; if in a hurry, you could stand at the counter for a quick espresso then leave. Or you could sit outside for a cigarette after your coffee and even stay for dinner.

I ordered a short black, no sugar: the acid test for any barista. It was exactly what it was supposed to be. Less than a couple of centimetres of coffee in a small cup, with the usual golden foam on top and a balanced, strong but not too bitter savour, leaving an after-taste that could last for a good half an hour.

It’s difficult to state what the best cafe in Melbourne is; though personally, out of the ones I’ve tried, this is by far the one I prefer. But coffee is not a race, it doesn’t really matter if you think one place is better than the other, as long as you are happy with what you are drinking.

Coffee is what allows you to wake up at 6am in the morning, stay up late when you need to finish an assignment due the next day, or enjoy a much deserved break. On these and many other occasions people find in a cup of coffee an amazingly helpful friend. And for all this we are thankful.

Where do you go for your favourite cup of coffee? Or is there a restaurant or joint around Melbourne that reminds you of home? Share your food stories with us in the comments section below, or by emailing your contributions to