A coffee guide to Melbourne: Kōkako’s Mike Murphy revisits old haunts in search of Victoria’s best

by | Oct 18, 2022 | News, Uncategorized

Prior to purchasing Kōkako in 2007 I lived in Richmond, Melbourne and would spend my weekends checking out the new cafe openings around the city. I decided it was time to reconnect with the world and the global coffee industry – MICE (the Melbourne International Coffee Expo) was on and after guiding Kōkako though the last 2.5 years of trading through a pandemic I was also in dire need of a break.

Covid has understandably slowed the number of new openings but there’s positive energy in the Melbourne hospo scene despite a lot more For Lease signs in the shop windows – like Auckland’s CBD, Melbourne’s CBD was hit hard with a lack of foot traffic. If you’re heading to Melbourne I’d recommend you check out Broadsheet and download their dedicated app; it’s got everything you need and you can search for the best food and beverage based on your geographical location. Otherwise here’s a roundup of some places that weren’t around pre-pandemic and some old favourites that are still going strong (and not just coffee). Go support them!

If you’re in South Yarra the first and original Market Lane Coffee is still an exceptional coffee anchor point at the side entrance to the Prahran market. They’re a Certified B Corp Carbon Neutral business which is still independently owned by Fleur Studd, Jason Scheltus and Jenni Bryant. They know what they are doing, sourcing some great coffees and also serving them across other Market Lane spots around the city and through wholesale customers. Market Lane is also one of multiple Melbourne roasters on the roll call at Patricia in the CBDDespite their tiny little coffee bar and long queue the staff go out of their way to say hello – hands down the best customer service in Melbourne.

 

Code Black Coffee, South Melbourne. Image: Broadsheet Melbourne

 

In October 2020 Code Black Coffee opened a new outpost in South Melbourne across the road from the South Melbourne Market (worth a visit in its own right); with very attentive staff serving espresso from a custom painted green La Marzocco KB90 (the same machine we use at Kōkako Commercial Bay). As you’d expect they have rotating single origins and their house blend 3056 uses washed and natural process coffees from Ethiopia, Guatemala and Brazil.

Further along Coventry Street Hector’s Deli has been popping up on our Instagram feed for all the right reasons; simple, honest, classic sandwiches and they roast their own coffee with filter and espresso available. The star show here is the toasties – get in before the lunch rush. They also have an outpost in Richmond and another in Fitzroy opening soon.

Just a few minutes from Hectors across Clarendon Street in Yarra Place, South Melbourne is the ST Ali flagship cafe; I was living in Melbourne when this opened and have watched it grow and change like a chameleon over the years – they have such a good retail and merch offering and if you are heading back to NZ on an early flight their Melbourne airport outpost is the place for a pre-flight brew.

 

Sarnies on the street

 

There’s a heap of great places to go in the city but I’m always drawn back to Dukes Coffee on Flinders Lane; like us they are committed to only roasting organic coffee; I picked up the Highwire Blend which will be on our cupping table to slurp with the team. Sandwich bars with short order menus are all the rage right now and Nico’s Sandwich Deli delivers; tucked down a service laneway at the top of the city at 1 Healey’s Lane in a tiny little spot they churn out quality sammies including a plant based schnitzel number alongside coffee from the legends at Seven Seeds.

It’s worth jumping on the train or tram up to Kensington to visit Rumble Coffee Roasters; they have an espresso bar and tasting room looking into their roastery (they roast on a Loring). I’ve long admired their commitment to sustainability and price transparency and Head Roaster Alex Cole has a wealth of knowledge in specialty coffee; he also happens to be the brother of Zoe, our Sales and Hospitality Manager at Kōkako. Thanks to Alex for hosting me and providing such tasty coffees (we’ll have a selection of Rumble Coffees at our Roastery Roller Door if you want to come by and try them from the 13th October).

 

Fu and Robson at Gloria’s Image: Sydney Road Brunswick Facebook

 

I’m always so proud when I see any of the old Kōkako crew move on to start their own business; we have had so many over the years that I’ve lost count. It was so cool to catch up with Fu Chung who has co-founded a new cafe in Brunswick called Gloria; Fu was one of the original baristas at Kōkako in Grey Lynn 10 years ago and we’ll be making sure his favourite Kōkako blend Aotea makes a cameo appearance at his cafe in the future.  At the other end of Brunswick Street you’ll find specialty coffee roaster Wide Open Road’s Cafe and Roastery in a converted warehouse that has come to epitomise the style of many Melbourne cafes.

 

Of MICE and men

MICE was held at the Melbourne Convention Centre over four days and it definitely felt more international than prior coffee exhibitions I’ve been to there. It was full of Kiwi specialty coffee professionals either working the stands or helping to judge the World Coffee Championships; much respect to all of the volunteers who give up thier time to make this happen. – this year Anthony Douglas from Axil Coffee Roasters won the World Barista Championship – bravo!

 

Mike with Mitchell Ricky from Highlands Organic Agriculture Cooperative in PNG

 

They’d set up a competitors brew bar where I got to sample some tasty Brazil low-caf coffee which is roasted in the Netherlands – this is a rare coffee naturally low in caffeine and is a blend of the Laurina and Aramosa varietal. Like our younger sibling Everybird Half Caf it was good to see these lower caffeine coffees getting more prominence on the world stage; look out for more of them as they become more widely available.

 

Low-caf innovations getting an outing

 

 

It was great to connect with the Fairtrade team on their stand at MICE; and apart from catching up with Mitchell Ricky from HOAC in PNG it was great to meet Paolo Afonso Ferreira Junior in person. Earlier this year Kōkako released its first ever Fairtrade Organic Brazilian Coffee, Poco Fundo, sourced from Coopfam in Minas Gerais, Southeast Brazil. It’s rare for us to be able to connect with representatives from these coops and so it was a real honour to be able to meet Paolo in Melbourne for the first time.

 

The hit list

Because you don’t have all day and I should probably go run my coffee company here’s a shortlist of other Melbourne spots you might want to pop on your list for lunch or dinner; mostly around Fitzroy, Collingwood and Abbotsford:

https://cibi.com.au/

https://www.falcobakery.com/

https://www.hificollingwood.com.au/menu

https://www.terrortwilight.com.au/

http://tortasandtacos.com.au/

https://belleshotchicken.com/locations/fitzroy/

https://www.ritasabbotsford.com/

Mike Murphy is the CEO of Kōkako Organic who recently launched their rather tasty Everybird supermarket brand.

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