The Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) was one of the most exciting and innovative events in the coffee world this year; however we couldn’t resist the urge to talk about our experiences in Melbourne itself. The self-described coffee capital of Australia is home to thousands of amazing cafes and restaurants, a small handful of which we were lucky enough to visit. Here are our favourites:
In the CBD on Wednesday night? This small uptown bar is the place to be. A tradition amongst the Dimattina MICE crew is the $20 ‘all you can eat Chicken wings’ special; throw in a glass of Melbourne’s finest craft beer and you’re in for a great night! These guys also keep the vegos in mind with their fried spiced cauliflower ‘wings’. Legends!
While meandering down Lonsdale Street we were lucky enough to stumble upon this little gem. Boilermaker has a cosy relaxed vibe. Old-school gas lanterns illuminate each table (great fun to play with by the way) and old leather bar stools add to the venue’s unique style. With an ever rotating list of tap beers and over 900 whiskeys to choose from the options were overwhelming! Luckily, Boilermaker has a solution; the ingenious Boilermaker app. We were handed an iPad and guided through the whiskey selection by the app’s easy-to-follow instructions. A great experience whether you’re a whiskey veteran or just interested in trying something new.
Some of the most notorious coffees on the circuit brewed in front of you by your own barista; this is the ultimate coffee service experience. Aunty Peg’s (by Proud Mary Coffee) has created a cellar door inside a coffee roaster. Our barista (Steve) served us up some of their MICE special filter selection and took us through the flavour profiles. The café itself is built inside their wholesale facility which gives a unique insight into the operations of a working roastery. Milk drinkers beware however, its black coffee only here! Thankfully Proud Mary’s original café is a short walk away and caters for all milk and alternative tastes.
Situated on the corner of Little Bourke and Little William St, just a short walk from Southern Cross train station, Patricia is a living example of how coffee brings people together. Businesspeople in suits, Melbournian hipsters and traveller’s alike squat on the footpath, curb or even a humble milk crate (Patricia is famously ‘standing room only’), drinking coffee and downing cinnamon scrolls. So sought after are the quick and excellent brews from this tiny 5×4 establishment that the line often wraps around the corner and down the street. The staff are also very keen to chat with their customers (despite how ridiculously busy they are); this is a must-see café on any visitor’s bucket list!
Ten years ago, our good friend Fleur Cassidy began Market Lane Coffee; a pioneer of specialty coffee and still one of the best in the Melbourne coffee scene. Out of the six stores, we checked out the original Market Lane in the Prahran Markets. They have an amazing array of coffees on offer and were kind enough to host us for a cup tasting of their new Ethiopia offerings! We always have a great time at Market Lane and the service is top notch; ask any of the staff anything about coffee and they’ll be more than happy to help.
Higher Grounds is one of those places that just gets everything right. Located literally across the road from Southern Cross station it couldn’t be more convenient if it tried! The food is amazing, the décor stellar and the staff friendly and helpful; Higher Grounds is at the cutting edge of the modern café scene. Also featuring a selection of MICE special coffees (Melbourne goes all-out this time of year) we were served up some diverse Colombian filters. Food was relatively simple in nature but expertly prepared (the Roast Mushroom and Smoked Raclette Toastie was divine) and came with a very reasonable price tag. If there’s only one café in Melbourne you have time to visit then you can’t go passed Higher Grounds!