Your non-Melburnian friends may well be sick of you ranting about how Melbourne has the best cafes in the world! While you gush over the cutest coffee shops from Fitzroy to Brighton, you might notice one of two things; either their eyes glaze over, or they present an opposing argument and wonder how you can make such a major claim.
Melbourne’s cafes are world-renowned for their quality and diversity. If you want a great cup of coffee, Melbourne is the place to be. With so many amazing cafes to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start.
So we’ve put together a list of our favourites to help make your decision easier. Whether you’re looking for a trendy cafe or a classic Italian institution, Melbourne has something for everyone. So what are you waiting for? Start exploring and enjoy the best coffee in the world!
Let’s settle it once and for all with the facts. Let’s take a look into the famous coffee-drinking culture of our city and how it compares to others around the globe.
Coffee is an essential player in our cafe orchestra. Melbourne coffee is a source of fierce pride and unnecessary intense competition. Our obsession with the perfect brew dates back to the early ’50s when Pelligrini’s on Bourke Street first introduced us to the burr of Italian espresso machines. To a city of predominantly tea drinkers, those first few sips must have been akin to slurping battery acid.
Since the first wave of Italian immigrants arrived in Melbourne, cafes around the city have been striving to make the gotta-have-it blend (not all of them – we’ve all had a scalding, too-milky coffee from shops that won’t be named). The rich, bronze liquid with tiny caramel bubbles and a generous dollop of cream foam swirling at its head has elevated the position of the barista to one of the most stressful jobs imaginable.
Although the traditional Italian espresso reigns supreme in Melbourne, give or take some hot water, steamed milk and foam, in the last few years, it has been increasingly easier to find variations on the traditional coffee. Cafes such as Market Lane and Collingwood’s Everyday Coffee have championed cold brews and pour-overs, with the latter in particular explaining the different bean blends in great detail.
Everyday Coffee also sells the equipment to make your pour-over at home, but then you don’t get to stick around for the cream cheese bagels and key lime pie, so it’s a tough call. Just kidding! Just buy the whole pie and eat it at home by yourself.
Yes, people in Melbourne are very precious about their coffee. Yes, they sometimes ask questions about the blend. Yes, they will often complain when travelling in America about the lack of a decent brew. Does that make us pompous jerks? Maybe. We just really, really care about coffee.
Hey, you want to grab a coffee? I feel like drinking coffee.
One of David Shaftel’s arguments in his brunch-hating Times piece was that, “I know how to poach an egg at home. It’s just not that hard.” While that is a sound argument (not for me – I can’t poach an egg without one of those microwave cup things), the thing about good cafes is that they elevate common ingredients to a well-seasoned nirvana.
You don’t have to be a fine diner to know the difference between an average avo and feta smash and a perfect one. And although avocados often go for $4 a pop here, Melbourne has them in spades.
It’s often trendy for cafes to serve tiny, fancy food in tiny, fancy portions, but that’s not the go in Melbourne. While things get a bit expensive in the CBD, our cafe culture is dominated by hearty food: buttermilk pancakes stacked with candied fruit, slabs of French toast covered in crispy bacon and drenched in maple syrup, or huevos rancheros that’ll kick start your chilli quota for the day.
Because of the sheer number of cafes we have in Melbourne, there seems to be more scope to experiment beyond the stables, with cafes like Collingwood icon Proud Mary’s serving an ox tongue with smoked almonds, crispy onion, peppers, and a poached egg for breakfast goers.
Even granola – which, let’s face it, is often a boring option – is given a hearty kick at places like Stagger Lee’s, which mixes their seed, nut and fruit mixture with spiced pumpkin puree.
For the less adventurous, old faithfuls like Windsor’s Journeyman (or Duke’s) nails a crispy pancetta, egg and hollandaise baguette. Wipe your drool off the keyboard, reader.
This is often seen as Melbourne’s cafe culture’s shortcoming. “Waiters are surly!” “Waiting times are too long!” “They’re judging me for ordering a mocha!” etc. While everyone has had a bad hospitality experience, this is true of every city in the world.
All I know is that when I went to my local this morning (ice latte and a B.L.T roll), the waitress saw that I had a Harry Potter jumper on and promptly showed me her Harry Potter tattoo. Lesson: the cranky Melbourne waitstaff myth should not be taken as gospel.
While the “waiting time” places are certainly around, these joints are usually reserved for fancy occasions. Cumulus, Inc. in the city usually has a wait time of about 20 minutes, but their staff give you the option of having a coffee while you wait at the bar. Sometimes waiting for your homemade crumpets with rooftop honey and whipped ricotta makes you feel like you earned it, you know?
Big bustling places like Richmond’s Top Paddock are the epitome of Melbourne cafe culture, with staff in black aprons skidding across the hardwood floors to deliver those long blacks in perfect time.
While these places can be overwhelming, the service almost always makes up for it: friendly but not too chatty, prompt without pressuring you to leave promptly and willing to take the flower to garnish off the top of the muesli if it bothers you. For the coffee drinker who likes a little quiet, the city bursts with hole-in-the-wall cafes like 5 & Dime Bagels or Bowery to Williamsburg.
There’s a little something for everyone.
Sometimes clichés exist because the same truth has been repeated time and time. Sydney does have very glamorous bars and restaurants, and Brisbane does have super gorgeous beaches. Melbourne has bloody great cafes – so maybe we shouldn’t be so embarrassed to admit it.
Does Melbourne Have the World’s Best Cafes?
Coffee brings people together: Melbourne Vs Italy.
When we make brunch plans in our favourite coffee shop, we tend to set an hour or two aside for it. That’s because in Melbourne, drinking coffee is a social act. It’s our opportunity to take some time away from hectic city life and catch up with mates, as we order cup after cup and maybe a serving of zucchini fritters.
It’s clear to see that that’s the intention of most cafes around Melbourne, where you’ll often find long, low-slung communal tables that mirror the concept of dining during early 21st century Melbourne civilisation. Even if you’re sipping alone, this welcoming atmosphere promotes a comfortable space for caffeine-lovers to sit amongst strangers and share a good brew.
In comparison, the coffee culture in Italy is less of an easy, relaxing affair and more about getting your caffeine fix – fast! The most popular Italian coffee variety is un caffè, a shot of espresso and is most often consumed standing up! This is all about the get-up-and-go factor, where function and flavour matter, and the social aspect hardly comes into play.
Quality is non-negotiable: Melbourne Vs Mexico.
Growing up on Melbourne-brewed coffee, you develop a taste for what’s good and what isn’t – and you’re probably passionate about the fact your local coffee shop does the best brew in the city!
World champion baristas hail from all over Melbourne, and creating the perfect cup of coffee every time is their craft and obsession. As pioneers when sourcing, roasting and brewing specialty coffee using 100% arabica beans, the exceptional quality is clear to taste. We came in second place in CNN’s list of the world’s best cities for coffee. You can see the list here to find out who took the top spot.
Of course, we’re up against some great contenders, and it would be not very objective for us to claim we have the very best coffee! However, we’re way ahead of the game, especially when considering the coffee culture in places like Mexico. Until recently, if you asked for a cup of coffee in Mexico, you’d be given a jar of instant coffee and some boiled water. Yeah, Nah.
Cafes are a major part of the economy: Melbourne Vs Kyrgyzstan.
Melbourne’s start-up culture is booming, with young and passionate people paving their futures, often emerging as the city’s newest and coolest café. Forming stronger ties to the community than coffee chain stores can offer, as well as a new sense of independence and optimism for what’s to come, cafes continue to be a huge part of our economy.
However, there are places around the globe that value their café culture as a primary measure of economic success! In Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asia, not a single “Western-style” coffee shop existed until 2012. By 2018, there were more than 40. As the poorest of all post-Soviet republics, the country chooses the success of international coffee shops as their benchmark of economic progress.
Independent cafes are seen to be going against an unpopular government and are a signal of hope for the future of youths, offering both an enhanced lifestyle and a better economy.
Reasons Why Melbourne Is the Café Capital of the World
In Melbourne, coffee is a religion, and the city's cafés are the churches. Around every corner is a different brunch joint just begging to be tried out. From the decadent to the quirky, here are the reasons you can't beat Melbourne cafés.
- You can get your morning coffee from a shipping container - Of course, Melbourne has found a way to make a shipping container look chic. Located in the suburb of Footscray, Rudimentary has amazing seasonal breakfast and lunch menus.
- Or a prison - Aptly named Jury, this Melbourne cafe is on the site of an old prison (don't worry—there are no actual prisoners there anymore). I'd gladly be locked up here if it meant drinking this coffee for 20-to-life.
- Matcha, matcha, matcha - Matcha Mylkbar is just one of the matcha cafés Melbourne has to offer. The menu (which, btw, is 100% plant-based) boasts matcha pancakes, matcha burger buns, and matcha milkshakes. But don't worry: if you haven't caught matcha madness, there are plenty of non-matcha options on the menu - apple pie latte, anyone?
- Donuts. Enough said - To make you feel even more like you don't have it together: Bistro Morgan is a doughnut store created by a 15-year-old high school student named Morgan Hepworth. With flavours like Ferrero Rocher, salted caramel & cinnamon, and Rocky Horror (rocky road), there's no shortage of choice. Plus, Bistro Morgan is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Melbourne's doughnut stores. And yes, those are syringes. It is filled with caramel. And chocolate. And strawberry filling. And butterscotch. Go nuts.
- The best coffee. In the world. No ifs, buts, or maybes - You have not LIVED until you've tried Melbourne coffee. Melburnians take their caffeine hits very, very seriously. In the birthplace of the flat white, you're guaranteed an amazing cup of coffee no matter which Melbourne café you choose for a pick-me-up (and trust me, you'll never run out of new places to try). Turmeric lattes, black lattes, beetroot lattes, blue algae lattes, deconstructed coffee—each new trend outdoes the last. Just try not to be too intimidated by the hipster baristas and coffee snobs.
Top Cafe Picks in Melbourne Australia
Widely considered the culture and dining capital of Australia, Melbourne is one of the world’s finest coffee cities. Perhaps it’s the local culture that encourages Melbournians to linger leisurely over their coffee and favours quirky, creatively-designed dining spaces.
Perhaps it’s the large Italian population whose coffee shops line the streets of historic districts such as Carlton. Whatever it is, there’s something about Melbourne coffee.
There are endless spots to enjoy a perfect cup of coffee in Melbourne, but the following are a few of the very best. To help you plan your java-inspired itinerary, here is a guide to the top cafes in Melbourne.
Three Bags Full
Located in a refurbished warehouse in the lovely inner-city suburb of Abbotsford, Three Bags Full serves rich, creamy coffee in a charming space. Their brunches are excellent, but Three Bags Full’s finest offering is its gourmet coffee range, including Aeropress and pour-over methods. If you’re in the mood to branch out with your coffee choices — and want to experience one of the top cafes in Melbourne — Three Bags Full is the place to do it.
Supplier to several other fabulous Melbourne hotspots, including the inner-city sister café Brother Baba Budan, Seven Seeds has its home in a loft space just down the road from the leafy University of Melbourne. Large communal tables and bikes strung up along the walls give Seven Seeds a distinctly Melbournian feel, as does its coffee, best paired with one of their delicious pastries.
The light-filled, industrialist Manchester Press is known for serving some of the finest coffee in town (with some of the most impressive latte art going around- I once got a cowboy smoking a cigar in mine), but their main attraction is their gourmet bagels. Take it from me: the number 13 (“avocado, feta, chilli and mint smash with cherry tomatoes, roquette and pine nuts”) is downright delectable.
This locals’ favourite is located next to the City Library and is fittingly infused with a bookish, mahogany office vibe. Floating bookshelves above the communal tables are crammed with leather-bound encyclopedias and old copies of National Geographic. Journal excels at coffee, but their pastries and bruschetta (my favourites are feta and pumpkin or avocado and lemon) are perfect too.
Many Melbourne eateries take great pride in their coffee, but none like the South Melbourne café, St Ali. Don’t be fooled by the garage environs; this place is a serious roasting and brewing institution. Keep it simple and order a flat white, a creamy cuppa somewhere between a latte and a cappuccino, the favoured Melbournian choice.
Why choose a Melbourne cafe?
- Neighbourhood vibe - It is especially for the people who are travelling from a huge distance; we understand the fact that you are feeling homesick. If you need to visit a cafe that can provide you with a neighbourhood vibe, worry not. You can see our place. We always set a mood where our customers feel like they are sitting in the home all the time. Sometimes our experts serve the kind of plates that entirely match your locality; that’s the specialty.
- Not just for hipsters - Now, the major problem arising these days is that it is tough to find some decent, clean, classy cafes. Every time you visit, you see cafes filled with dirt and hipsters. But places like Chayo Japanese cafes are different. We understand that not all people love big tattoos, beards, and too skinny jeans, worry not, we maintain the place for everyone. Even the suggestions, stars, and reviews on our website will enlighten you with that fact.
- The communal table - For those who do not know, communal tables are where more than one group sits and eats food. Now let us ask you a question: are you one of those people who love to meet and sit with new-new people? If your response is positive, you must visit our place at least once. Not only the food but we also provide you with merchandise, cool t-shirts, bags and many more. The moment you visit our website, you will find special surprises.
- An unforgettable memory - Why do we try new things? We are asking you a question: why do we try new things? To make new memories. Well, if it does not matter whether you order a cool t-shirt, a pair of socks, or a cup of matcha, you will create an unforgettable memory for your life. You see, we check the reviews from our clients all the time. Every time they say something nice about us, we feel like, yes, we are doing something good for this world.
- Where will you find a place like that - Well, this question seems unnecessary because you read the post about the best company. We aim to satisfy our costumes in all the fields. It is not in the cafe, special drinks, t-shirts, socks, or caps, but several other surprising items you will find at our website and feel blessed after ordering them. You can also check the reviews from our previous clients; those comments will help you understand the level of our services. On the other hand, if you have any questions, ask us without hesitation.
FAQs About Melbourne Cafes
Melbourne prefers 100 per cent arabica, and that's reflected in the flavours here. Melbourne is at the cutting edge of sourcing, roasting and brewing specialty coffee, with filter-style brews and single-origin espresso on many cafe menus.
But how much do you know about the coffee culture in Australia? The coffee-crazed city of Melbourne has more cafes per person than any other city on the planet, which is one of the reasons the city has been nicknamed the coffee capital of the world.
Australian coffee is espresso-style, in contrast with the drip-style filter coffee typically consumed in the US. While Americans love the sugary extravagant coffee beverages such as Frappés or Macchiatos, Aussies keep it simple and prefer coffees such as long black or flat white.
If there's one country on the planet well-known for its specialty coffee culture, it's Australia. Over the years, Australia has become home to the best-tasting specialty brews, which has created a coffee culture that is as serious as it is unique.
Melbourne is famed for its vibrant café culture, with coffee shops lining every street corner. Its history began on Bourke Hill, and in the 1900s, the city saw numerous roasting houses sprouting along its streets.