Is the Best Melbourne Coffee in Cafes in Melbourne CBD?

The Search 

Where is the best Melbourne Coffee? Is it from the nearest cafe to your office? Are you lucky enough to have it right downstairs in your building? Or do you prefer to walk a few blocks and explore what the best cafes in Melbourne CBD have to offer?

Ask any Melbournian and you will get a different answer. Cafes in the city are fabulous! Delicious coffee can be found all over town. Amazing coffee shops hide down laneways and secret alleys. The CBD is home to some of the best cafes and coffee roasters in Australia.  But who has the best Melbourne Coffee?

Where is the best espresso bar? Who serves up a killer piccolo latte? Do cafes in the CBD have a better recipe for chai latte than those in inner Melbourne? What’s the answer to the age-old question; cappuccino verses latte? Who serves the best bubble tea in Melbourne?

I’m returning to my discovery of the best Melbourne Coffee. This time, visiting cafes in Melbourne CBD. I’m narrowing in on areas, cafes and coffee roasters to find exactly who and where it is. Will it be Industry Beans? Will it be Dukes Coffee Roasters?

I'm so excited. I can’t wait to find out!

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The Contenders 

Bench Coffee Co

If you haven’t heard of Bench Coffee Co by name. You might be familiar with one of their amazing cafes. Slater Street, 580 and Saint Dreux all provide amazing coffee for residents and workers across the city.

However, Bench Coffee Co now has its very own flagship cafe in Melbourne CBD that bears its name. Located at 321 Little Collins Street. The coffee menu at Bench Coffee Co is intentionally simple, including all the basics plus hot and iced filter, cold brew and an espresso tonic. It’s a great spot to pick up your morning takeaway coffee when you are rushing to the office. Their amazing beans are also available for take away so you can enjoy them at the office or at home.

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Sensory Lab

Tucked away in a recessed thoroughfare of an office building. Sensory Lab, at 30 Collins Street, feels like a secret uncovered. I wish, I wish, I wish I worked in that building. Although you wouldn’t be able to get me out of the Lab.  

For those busy people on the go, either rushing to work or rushing home. A takeaway window, designed to emulate a vending machine, keeps service quick and efficient.

The food at Sensory Lab is all about toast. It’s taken as seriously as the coffee. A gigantic, conveyor-belt style toaster dominates the counter, through which passes some of the best bread in Melbourne. You can choose between slices from Irrewarra Sourdough, Dench Bakers or my personal favourite Tivoli Road Bakery. I may have sampled 9 or 10 of these. Condiments include Rooftop Honey, Jam Lady jams and 99th Monkey nut butters.

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First Love Coffee

First Love Coffee is a specialty venture by the founders of artisanal bakery Rustica. This standing only café caters for city workers and residents who want quality coffee and delicious food on the way to work.  

It's a fabulous little espresso bar at the base of Collins Arch. First Love Coffee pours locally roasted blends paired with pastries, takeaway salads and delicious sandwiches.

Locally-roasted coffee is the star here. All white coffees are made with Polaroid Espresso, a Brazilian, Colombian and Ethiopian specialty blend that has notes of strawberry and maple syrup with a light floral finish. You can also choose from a variety of single-origin roasts. All beans are sourced green and roasted at Port Melbourne’s Criteria Coffee Roasters.

In the morning egg-and-bacon rolls, and sourdough with sautéed mixed mushrooms, goat’s curd, spinach and truffle oil are firm favourites. For lunch I had a to die for smoked chicken sandwich with avo, cheese and mixed greens. Vegan options and a number of vegetarian sandwiches are also on offer. You can also pick up a bag of beans to take home too.

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Little Rouge

Located on Drewery Lane, a few steps away from Baroq House, Little Rogue is a true laneway café. You can find it by looking for its iconic bright blue door.

Little Rouge is the first venture for ex-Plantation baristas Leo Lee and Calvin Ko. They serve Small Batch’s Candyman beans as the house blend. At the moment, the cafe is playing the menu by ear, but there is a delicious selection of deserts to choose from, including financiers and crepe cakes by Mille and B’s and Butterbing’s cookies.

I could have stayed there all day eating them. Yum!

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Liminal

Located at 161 Collins Street. Liminal is the type of place you can stop for a coffee, glass of wine, or pick up charcuterie, cheese and rotisserie meats. You can host meetings and events at Liminal or even attend a workshop in the demonstration kitchen.

Liminal is a project by The Mulberry Group. The geniuses behind Higher Ground, The Kettle Black and Top Paddock. It’s an amazing place to stop for a coffee and the food is fabulous.

 

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Industry Beans

Located at 345 Little Collins Street. Industry Beans is one of my favourite cafes in the city. The brothers behind Industry Beans, Trevor and Steve Simmons, spent years searching for the ideal CBD space for an outpost of their flagship cafe and coffee roaster.

It took such a long time because they refused to compromise on natural light. So difficult to come by in Melbourne’s city centre.

Boy, did their patience pay off! Industry Beans Little Collins Street is a light drenched oasis. It really is in my top three cafes in Melbourne CBD. To drink, there’s a house-blend for milk-based coffees, with a rotating range of single origins at all times. To eat there are delicious sandwiches and muffins. A piccolo latte with a blueberry muffin here, is the breakfast of champions.

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Patricia

Patricia, located at 493 Little Bourke Street, is so much different to the looming corporate office buildings right next door. Named after the founders’ respective grandmothers, Patricia is a charming space that takes Melbourne’s coffee culture in both new and old directions. It’s one part throwback to a traditional European espresso bar, with one-part contemporary Melbourne coffee scene. Its not the type of place I would stay for hours to read the paper or have a late brekky. But if you need one thing and one thing only (an outstanding coffee), Patricia’s is the place you will find it.

Straight-up, black, white or filter coffee is on offer, all roasted by Patricia at Bureaux Collective.  There’s a small selection of pastries available but nothing substantial enough to detract from the coffee menu.

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Everyday Midtown

Located at 213 Little Collins Street. Everyday Midtown has a few seats and a couple of comfy nooks for a spare five minutes. But it’s primarily set up to pump out takeaway coffee fast.

The menu includes pastries from Loafer and choc-chip cookies and banana bread baked in-house. The coffee’s all its own, roasted at Coffee Supreme and Bureau, with a mostly Colombian blend for milky cups, and some interesting single-origin coffees from Honduras, Ethiopia and Kenya for something a little different.

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Axil Coffee Roasters

At 565 Bourke Street you can find the eighth venue by Axil Coffee Roasters. At the Southern Cross Station end of Bourke Street, it’s the first Axil Coffee Roasters cafe in the CBD to operate with a full brunch menu.

Healthy and delicious brunch options include the goodness bowl; a generous serve of barley with haloumi, avocado, asparagus, kale, pickled cabbage and beetroot hummus topped with a soft-boiled egg. My favourite on the menu is carried over from other Axil kitchens. It’s baked eggs with spicy peperonata (red capsicum slow-cooked with garlic, onion and olive oil), dukkah and Meredith feta with pumpkin grain toast. It really is something special.

Alongside latte’s and cappuccinos there’s batch brew, cold drip and other specialties. The long-black spritzer is an iced long black over tonic water, and the New Orleans cold brew uses coffee steeped for 24 hours, infused with chicory root and maple syrup, and served with milk on ice.

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Dukes Coffee Roasters

With a long list of environmental pledges, Dukes Coffee Roasters couldn’t have been a better fit for community-owned Ross House at 247 Flinders Lane.

Here the team is flat out doing what they do best. Pumping out specialty coffee and maintaining the sophisticated reputation built at the original cafe in Windsor.

The focus is primarily on coffee, although there is a quaint selection of pastries from Mosaic to enjoy on the way to work. The knowledgeable staff are quick on service but eager to make specialty coffee accessible for everyone who wanders in.

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Brother Baba Budan

Brother Baba Budan is named after a 17th-century Sufi. Legend says, he smuggled seven seeds of coffee out of the Middle-East (which was fiercely protective of its coffee trade) and returned to India, bringing the crop there for the first time.

It’s the first city operation from the team at Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters. The second being Traveller. As you'd expect, this is a cafe worth crossing town for, even with all the competition. It’s in my top three!

The house coffee is the Seven Seeds blend from their Carlton cafe and roastery. There is no food beyond small cakes and pastries – it’s all about the coffee here. The space is small, with a single communal table, a tiny bar and a total of 15 seats. Takeaway coffee is the real focus, they nail it every time.

Expect a wait when it’s busy, which is most of the time. People come from all parts of the city to get the best out of their coffee break.

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Traveller

At 14 Crossley Street you will find Traveller. Traveller exists to provide top quality coffee to the top-end of the city.

If you are familiar with Brother Baba Budan you will recognise the coffee-based offerings, with a small selection of cakes and pastries from Brioche by Phillip to accompany. While Traveller is standing room only, it has a very comfortable bar for flicking through newspapers on a busy workday.

With a takeaway coffee window looking out onto Crossley Street, Traveller can provide larger volumes of filtered coffee very fast.

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