I’m not much of a coffee drinker. In fact, I don’t drink it at all. Tea is my chosen beverage, followed shortly by Coca Cola. But by not drinking coffee, I’ve been missing out on important parts of the places I visit. No espresso in Italy, no drip coffee at New York diners and no flat whites in Sydney. But this time around, I vowed to say ‘yes’ to more and not get caught up in my picky preferences and hangups.
Melbourne, Australia’s café capital, was the best place to start. We signed up for a tour of the city’s best cafés with Walk Melbourne, led by native Monique Bayer. Joining us on the walk were coffee roasters from the Philippines in town for a conference, so I was surrounded by experts. We visited four cafes to try their best selections, each with their own unique vibe.
Named for owners Bowen and Pip’s grandmothers who share the name, you could walk past this small shop adjacent to a loading dock hundreds of times before seeing it. The cafe features guest roasts from Seven Seeds and is, as the tiling in the entryway says, it’s ‘standing room only.’ I had the fruity, mellow espresso, my first ever. I loved the leatherworker style aprons the baristas wore.
Brother Baba Budan
The hip BBB gets very crowded in the afternoon and is decorated with wooden chairs hung from the ceiling. You’re better off getting one of their brews to go. I tried their Seven Seeds single origin espresso, which was stronger in flavor for a newbie like myself.
Part bike shop part coffee shop, Little Mule features everything a hipster could want, including a cafe with delicious sandwiches. The light roast pour over was much milder in flavor than I expected. If you have trouble deciding, ask the fellows behind the counter for advice.
The League of Honest Coffee
This coffee shop showcases the coffee they roast in the nearby hipster enclave of Brunswick. The family run establishment even sells the gear you need to brew at home like products from Chemex and Aeropress. We sampled the cold batch brewed selection from Sumatra.
Walk Melbourne also offers tours on dumplings, rooftop bars, sweets and a combination for those not interested in coffee. While these tours are a great way for visitors to get to know Melbourne, the majority of guests are locals looking for something new to try. For more on Monique’s recommendations, check out her book Devouring Melbourne.
I received a complimentary coffee tour with Walk Melbourne, but all opinions and epiphanies on coffee are my own.