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On the Trail of the Best Coffee in Melbourne

On the Trail of the Best Coffee in Melbourne

M is for Melbourne, and also Magic.

The name Magic makes sense: double ristretto with textured milk in a smaller cup, creating a richer and more potent drink. Nearly all Melbourne coffee shops serve this in addition to the usual cappuccinos, flat whites, and pour-overs. Not that you’ll go wrong with any order, not when you’re in this coffee capital.

Just like in Seattle, my search for the best coffee in Melbourne began with a list of household names, detoured into chance visits, and ended on recommendations from local baristas I spoke to along the way. As a result, I found some real gems. I hope you enjoy drinking through this list of the best coffee in Melbourne.

1. Gold Drops Coffee & Tea

I’m glad we visited Melbourne over Easter weekend, and that so many cafes in Melbourne were closed, for I might not have stumbled into Gold Drops otherwise. James and I were the only customers that morning in the small but beautifully decorated bar, where owner Ari professed his love for natural processed coffees and barista Riley plied us with the drinks to prove it.

I would personally rate Gold Drops as the best coffee in Melbourne CBD; their espresso drinks and filters were equally excellent, with all the fruit and floral notes characteristic to natural coffee. A visit here will feel like a real treat.

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2. Vertue Coffee Roasters

If you like a sumptuous hipster brunch and good coffee to go with it, Vertue Coffee is worth checking out. In fact, I was pointed here by the folks from Gold Drops. From a narrow entrance behind a petrol station, you’ll enter into a gorgeous two-storey café and roastery; the roaster sits in a sun-soaked courtyard that reminds me of some of the shophouse cafés in Singapore.

Vertue Coffee Roasters Melbourne

I had a most delicious buttermilk fried chicken burger (with curly fries!) to go with my flat white, while the Harissa scrambled eggs came with crusty, chewy, flavorful sourdough with lashings of butter. Even though it was a busy Saturday, the staff were friendly and took the time to share insights on the different beans they had for sale.

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3. Industry Beans

Industry Beans is a popular joint, one that has topped several lists of Melbourne coffee shops, and thus I’d made its CBD cafe at Little Collins Street my first caffeine stop. The sleek Scandi birch-and-white interior threw me for a loop the way it looked like a design showroom, but the aroma of coffee brought me to my senses.

Industry Beans, Melbourne

The thing about the Modbar is this: it’s visually attractive but there’s no boundary, nothing for the baristas to hide behind, so every inch of the counter is open to invasion by customers and other distractions. Luckily, the baristas accommodated my photo-taking and my coffee turned out great – crisp with a lingering finish. If you have time, head to their more spacious cafe in Fitzroy.

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4. Dukes Coffee Roasters

From Industry Beans’ cool white space, the dim, warm, woody interior of Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane may feel like a bit of a shock. Yet despite the crowd (it was pre-Good Friday), Dukes feels like a place where you can hide out and people-watch for a bit.

They happened to have an Ethiopia Suke Quto in the hopper, so I tried that instead of the house blend and found the slightly astringent tea-like texture great with their pastries.

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5. ST. ALi

St Ali is arguably the most well-known coffee roasters in Melbourne – one that spearheaded the growth of specialty coffee culture in the city as well as around the world through their tours, collaborations, and masterclasses. Here, it’s fun to be adventurous with the coffee and try some single origin shots; I recommend anything they have from Burundi.

However, for your own safety, please be conservative when ordering food. Their Arepa E’Huevo was simply too far out for me. Also, one drawback about St Ali is it’s kind of out of the way, and you have to be prepared to queue on a weekend. The coffee’s worth it though.

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6. Brother Baba Budan

Brother Baba Budan is the CBD outpost of Seven Seeds, another pioneer in the Melbourne specialty coffee scene, but the homey interior feels like a quick escape from the city. That’s if you can even find a spot to plant yourself for a bit, because BBB (as it’s known by locals) seems to be permanently full.

Although the coffee was good, I didn’t really get to savor it or chat with the baristas. Seven Seeds has several cafes in Melbourne, though, so hit them up if you’re in the area.

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7. Proud Mary

Proud Mary is another coffee roasters in Melbourne known for directly sourcing their coffee and improving sustainability in the coffee industry. A coffee pilgrimage in Melbourne just doesn’t seem right without coming here, so I came for a cup of their Humbler blend.

Proud Mary at Collingwood, Melbourne

I feel like I visited Proud Mary at the wrong time, though, as it was near closing (4pm) and the kitchen had closed by 3pm. If you’re really into brewing coffee, however, walk a few streets over to Aunty Peg’s, their roastery and brew bar, where you can geek out with the baristas.

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8. Market Lane Coffee

Market Lane Coffee boasts an incredible range of coffee beans, so if you like trying different flavors, this is the place for you (I recommend the filters). The space feels unpretentious, and food-wise there are only small bites available, so it’s really all about the coffee.

I went to Market Lane Coffee at Prahran market, but they’ve got several cafes around Melbourne, including two outlets at Queen Victoria Market to keep you fueled while you shop.

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9. Drugstore Espresso

With eating out in Melbourne being as expensive as it is, Drugstore Espresso was my budget find when I was staying at South Yarra (at least, it’s got decent sandwiches at AUD 7, the cheapest I could find). It’s a fine example of neighborhood Melbourne coffee shops: a select range of coffees done right, and lots more breathing room.

Drugstore Espresso, Melbourne

Drugstore Espresso isn’t located in the Melbourne CBD, but they’re right next to South Yarra station if you’re venturing further out.

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You should also try…

I didn’t have enough time to make it to all the best cafes in Melbourne, but I’ve heard good things about these places and would like to go next time. Do check them out and let me know what you think!

  • Monk Bodhi Dharma near St Kilda: I was too eager to find the little penguins to stop here, but they have a fantastic vegan menu.
  • Axil Coffee Roasters: Another big name and old-timer in Melbourne specialty coffee.
  • Sensory Lab: Ultra-hipster coffee shops in Melbourne CBD.

Ready to get your caffeine high in Melbourne? View+save the map of all the Melbourne coffee shops listed here!

Where do you think serves the best coffee in Melbourne? If I missed any of your favorites, let me know in the comments.

4 Comments

  1. 3 months ago

    You were certainly on a mission to find all the cool coffee spots in Melbourne! I want to go back and explore it more. Melbourne is such a cool city!

    • Brooke
      3 months ago

      I wish I had more time to properly explore Melbourne and its surroundings. Gotta get your recommendations next time!

  2. 3 months ago

    Great article. Good to see some of the old favourites from my old hometown appearing on this list. Great photography too! I need a decent flat-white now.

    • Brooke
      3 months ago

      Thanks, glad these places have local approval 😉

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