The Melbourne Coffee Scene
When it comes to coffee, Melbourne stands tall. It’s been voted one of the top destinations, serving the best coffee in the world by too many groups and individuals to list. When it comes to the best Melbourne coffee, cafes in North Melbourne are some of the leading cafes in the city. It’s so easy to head out and find great coffee near to me in North Melbourne.
Thousands of people have been surveyed over the years. The result conclusive. Melbourne is far ahead of traditional coffee mad cities like Vienna, Milano, Rome, and others. I would argue that Melbourne is perhaps best known for its Coffee culture. Baristas take pride in serving some of the best coffee in the world. Winning the hearts of locals and tourists alike. The sense of community surrounding the Melbourne coffee culture is like nothing I have ever seen.
Where to Find an Amazing Cafe in North Melbourne
Looking for the best cafes in North Melbourne really isn’t easy. The area boasts astounding cafe culture. It’s a really great area of the city. With a buzzing shopping scene, thriving restaurants, and top baristas seeking to offer nothing but the best Melbourne coffee.
For a suburb so close to the city, North Melbourne is deceptively suburban. It’s spacious, tight-knit and much less developed than other pockets of the inner city.
The broad, wedge-shaped area is bordered by Royal Park in the north and Queen Victoria Market in the south. At the height of Melbourne’s boom in the 1880s, it was the most densely populated part of the city, filled with blue-collar workers who favoured its ease-of-access to factories in the city and out west.
Although the population has changed markedly since then, those early residents left their architectural footprints on the area. Closer to Parkville, stately Victorian and Edwardian-era terrace houses line the main streets. Approaching the city you’ll find intact weatherboard workers’ cottages, or simple stone constructions.
The proximity of the main street, Errol Street, to the Queen Victoria Market has stunted the growth of food-retail in the suburb. Luckily, that’s translated to an upsurge in dining options in the area. And because only 40 per cent of North Melbourne’s population was born in Australia, delicious food options are everywhere. Fabolous Italian, Mexican and Vietnamese restaurants are all close by.
I want to share some of my favourite North Melbourne cafes. Amazing places where you can get a delicious coffee or fabulous bite to eat.
One of my favourite North Melbourne cafes is Beatrix Bakes. Seating just a handful of customers, the vintage shopfront is relaxed, neighbourly and super-friendly. Produce is sourced from ethical and local suppliers where possible. Home-grown fruit often makes an appearance on the menu which is brought in by committed locals.
Sweet treats are a main feature at Beatrix Bakes. It’s tough to go past the raspberry ripple angel cake or the brioche donuts. Be aware though, the brioche donuts are to die for, but are only made on weekends. Trust me, I have been there on weekdays and been disappointed before. The signature, nutty, Jewish rugelach or the truly decadent Moroccan Snickers tart is one of my personal favourites.
Beatrix Bakes serves fabulous coffee by Small Batch Roasting Co and only serves coffee in reusable cups.
Nestled in a leafy street in North Melbourne. Errol’s Restaurant and Bar is a culmination of delicious, high-quality restaurant and café eats. Errol’s is a modern Australian café influenced by many different cultures from around the world. They specialize in high-quality, affordable and tasty food.
Their divine range of desserts always keep me going back for more.
Twenty & Six Espresso is tucked away on Queensberry Street. They offer a well thought out seasonal menu which delivers delicious food for the soul. Twenty and Six Espresso pride themselves on using mostly local and seasonal produce sourced from the nearby Queen Victoria Market. Coffee is sourced from the amazing folk at Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters. Twenty and Six Espresso provide delicious alternative blends and single origins every day of the week.
Located in a North Melbourne warehouse decorated with Australiana memorabilia. Le Bajo is a Japanese cafe named after an Indonesian fishing town. Jason Gunawan, one half of the duo behind Bali’s Potato Head Beach Club, was about to start building another beach club and hotel in Labuan Bajo, when Covid hit.
Forced to stay in Melbourne, Jason decided to turn 100 square metres of his enormous North Melbourne garage into an amazing café.
From late morning into the afternoon, traditionalists tend to go for the saucy fried-chicken katsu sando with cabbage and house-made miso sauce. It really is a classic. There is also a prawn option with wasabi-spiked tartare and a veggie-packed sando. Dirty fries are amazing and are one of my favourites. They come tossed in a choice of miso mayo or teriyaki butter.
Less common are the fruit sandos displayed in the fridge, where whipped cream and sliced strawberries, kiwi and mango are encased by crustless shokupan. House-made spiders and milkshakes are a nod to Jason’s obsession with the Australian milk bars of yester year.
This is the fourth store from Jason Scheltus and Fleur Studd, joining their existing outlets opposite the Queen Vic Market’s organic fruit and vegetable section. A hole-in-the-wall fixture in Carlton and their flagship roastery in the Prahran Market.
The spot where Market Lane now stands previously housed a pharmacy for 80 years. Jason and his designer worked in close partnership with Heritage Victoria to preserve the history of the space. There’s a long filter coffee bar where you can stand and watch the baristas at work, as well as a small display of coffee-brewing paraphernalia and five different grinds of beans to take home.
Auction Rooms was added to the St Ali empire in November 2016, along with adjacent takeaway spot Counter.
Small Batch is the bean of choice for espresso and filter coffee. The facade is a weather-beaten blue, announced only by the name of the auction house that once occupied the building: W.B. Ellis (Est. 1864).
And then there’s the delicious menu. Just a single page, yet it covers plenty of bases. Big and small, sweet and savoury. Some of the more eye-catching choices include nut, seed and puffed-grain granola with elderflower labne; tortilla chips, pork shoulder, cheese curd and black beans.
Or my go too whenever I visit; grilled eggplant with flatbread, preserved lemon, smoked hummus, poached egg and freekeh and brown-rice salad. Yum!
Co-founders and partners Josefin Zernell and Kiril Shaginov both come from a specialty coffee background. However, the brew house is all about chocolate reigning supreme.
The warehouse attached to the concept store makes delicious chocolate on site. The intricate process of importing, roasting and then refining is reflected in the cafe’s attention to detail.
While the space is intimate with 18 seats, the communal bench is inviting and the drinks are worthy of being sipped slowly. The Campfire Chocolate is a signature dish: a stemless Bordeaux glass filled with smoke from beech wood, a beaker of chocolate, smoked salt and a house-made toasted marshmallow.
Oh my gosh, I get excited just typing that.
The menu offers small savoury items such as a Gruyère scroll, but all the food is designed to complement, and bring the focus back to, the delicious chocolate.
I have had many a slow afternoon drinking well-made Coffee Supreme espresso in the beautiful sun-soaked courtyard at Fandango.
The café attracts an interesting mix of nearby office workers, uni students and local regulars. All attracted by the cosy atmosphere of this little cafe you could easily miss if you walked by too fast.
You could be forgiven for confusing Fandango with a neighbourhood milk bar or fish and chip shop, but pull aside the plastic strips hanging from the door frame, and the cafe’s charms become apparent. Try one of their simple but delicious toasted sandwiches or their Bircher muesli. But don’t be surprised to find yourself sitting in the same spot a few hours later, wondering where all that time went.
Code Black North Melbourne is the sister cafe to Brunswick favourite, Code Black Coffee. It's a smaller space and is light, airy and immaculately designed.
The menu doesn't borrow much from the existing kitchen, with breakfast dishes like the acai bowl and salted apple caramel hotcakes. The apple wood hot-smoked salmon on a citrus and herb potato cake is amazing, but I personally suggest the black beans with jalapeno cornbread. The beans make an extra comforting bed for the fried egg and lime, and the cornbread is a nice alternative to regular sourdough.
Their signature coffee is a constant, with the same smooth Code Black beans making an excellent cup. In its own right, Code Black North Melbourne is a great cafe serving good coffee and a solid all-day breakfast and lunch menu.