Hardware Societe Katherine Place | Melbourne CBD
Phone: 03 9078 5992
A tiny, worn-out kitchen was the catalyst for Hardware Société’s move, almost 10 years after originally opening on Hardware Street.
This 250-square-metre eatery on Katherine Place seats 110 and has a kitchen four times the size of the old spot. The room is painted in shades of dusty pink and emerald, with ivory panelling, cane chairs and emerald booth seating. Pendant lights hanging over a glass case of cakes and other treats are by Danish design store & tradition, and handmade alphabet boards list coffee specials. Art by illustrator Mads Francis and vintage French street signs decorate the walls.
The French-inspired menu has expanded to fit the larger space. Start with a brunch cocktail – there are classics, such as Bellinis and Mimosas, or try the Boozy Tea, which is iced tea spiked with prosecco – then onto oysters with Bloody Mary dressing or grapefruit and gin granita.
Wide Open Road | Brunswick
Phone: 03 9387 6079
In a city saturated with Scandi-cool cafes, Wide Open Road stands out. It has a certain X factor that can’t be solely explained by the building’s industrial charm, the ever-buzzing vibe or the unique looks of the staff and customers.
Hootan Heydari and Jono Hill (Heart Attack and Vine, Bedford Street) arrived here in 2009, to start roasting their own coffee. Their first cafe, A Minor Place (since sold), was too small for the task.
Since then they’ve steadily built their roasting expertise. The flagship Bathysphere blend includes beans from Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and Kenya. It works beautifully with milk. Superb filter roasts are served as batch brew or pour-over. Tea is treated just as seriously, with Larsen & Thompson leaves steeped at precise temperatures and duration’s using thermometers and timers. Then there’s the in-house brand of chai, Chai La Lai.
Industry Beans | Fitzroy
Phone: 03 9417 1034
In 2013, brothers Trevor and Steve Simmons transformed this open warehouse into a lively cafe, an ambitious roastery, an upstairs cupping (tasting) lab and expert coffee training facilities. It’s a pretty serious upgrade from their previous venture, Northcote’s Penny Farthing.
At Industry Beans you can expect top-grade product and intriguing flavours sourced anywhere from the hills of Sumatra to the plantations of Panama, on a daily list featuring nine different origins.
Dishes are spread wide across the brunch spectrum, from light and fresh (compressed watermelon with rosewater and lemon myrtle panna cotta) to rich (truffled egg with zucchini ribbons, enoki mushrooms, pea panna cotta, artichoke crisps and coffee) and downright filling (a coffee-rubbed Wagyu burger on brioche).
Axil Coffee Roasters | Hawthorn
Phone: 03 9819 0091
As serious cafes go, this slick operation by two-time Australian barista champion Dave Makin, and his partner Zoe (of equal coffee nous), is as impressive as they come.
The cafe is only part of the Axil operation. As well as the CBD espresso bar and The Petty Officer, a large strip of a former bowling alley has been converted into a raised communal table. And from here, under the glow of powder-coated milk urns-come-light-fittings diners can watch roasters busy at work in the cupping and training room next door.
The crew at Environmental Design STStyle have used a minimalist palette to create a brooding, masculine space with a mix of black walls, highly polished concrete floors, a ceiling lined in corrugated iron and a feature wall of white and green tiles. A wall of metal framework lattice, usually found on construction sites reinforcing concrete slabs, supports a variety of succulents that climb from the bench seating right to the ceiling.
Seven Seeds | Carlton
Phone: 03 9347 8664
Melbourne is full of good coffee spots. Still, there are a number of places that sit above the rest. Seven Seeds is undeniably among them.
After selling St ALi in 2008, Mark Dundon moved to Carlton where he and business partner Bridget Amor converted an old warehouse into a roaster and cafe. At a time when Melbourne was dominated by dark-roasted, untraceable, commodity-grade beans made solely for espresso, the duo began pushing quality, provenance and lighter roasts to suit filter, cold drip and other brewing styles.
The company’s roasting operation outgrew Carlton in 2017. Nowadays it imports green beans from the Americas, Africa and Asia and roasts them on a monstrous 60-kilogram Probat machine and two smaller models at its wholesale headquarters in Fairfield.
Rudimentary | Footscray
Phone: 03 8596 6909
There’s a refreshing back-to-basics nature to Rudimentary: its no-fuss fundamentals let it focus on quality food in a beautifully designed space.
What was once an unused, dilapidated corner block in Footscray is now an AstroTurf garden with a cafe niftily fashioned from three shipping containers.
Owner Desmond Huynh wanted to create something sustainable and potentially movable. This design means Rudimentary can pack up and relocate. The build also breathes new life into existing materials.
The light, open space features a glass wall that allows a view of the beautiful outdoor space filled with herbs and lavender beds.
Ascot Food Store | Moonee Ponds
Phone: 03 9370 2649
Formerly a rundown Spanish delicatessen, this stand-alone suburban space has been reinvented as the Ascot Food Store: an always-buzzing cafe.
Owners Cameron Wilson and David Stewart spent nine months gutting the shopfront and three-bedroom residence. The end product is an open, modern space with polished concrete floors, clean lines and minimal fuss. Pops of orange, retro-style light fittings and succulent-filled pot add a vibrancy that honours the 1960s soul of the venue.
A focus on quality is behind the menu. Stewart runs the kitchen and maintains strong relationships with suppliers to source local and biodynamic produce.
Monk Bodhi Dharma | Balaclava
Phone: 03 9534 7250
This tiny little brick cubby might have been a bakehouse in the dim distant past, but these days it’s serving up breakfast and lunch (and dinner on Fridays) to those in need of some nourishment sans-guilt – it’s completely vego here, right down to the absence of eggs. What they have instead is excellent coffee, baristas who know their beans and are happy to help you choose something to suit your own flavour profile and an animal-friendly menu that will feed your stomach as well as your soul.
Inside there’s the comfort of old-is-new-chic, with a pre-loved workbench serving as the communal dining space and re-birthed Singer sewing tables for a cosier tête-à-tête.
Proud Mary | Collingwood
Phone: 03 9417 5930
After selling Liar Liar in early 2009, Nolan Hirte opened this buzzing cafe in the backstreets of Collingwood.
It’s laid out according to his love for specialty coffee. A long L-shaped, speckled stone counter serves both as an outer shell for the small kitchen and a huge brew bar, where three or more baristas enjoy an uninterrupted workflow.
An army of grinders hold a variety of Proud Mary’s own blends and single origins, roasted a block away at Aunty Peg’s. These can be enjoyed via cold drip, V60, AeroPress and espresso.
At Liar Liar, Hirte was frustrated with only having three group heads to extract espresso, causing cross-contamination between different varieties of coffee. At Proud’s he remedied that by welding together two three-group Synesso machines to create a custom six-group monster. Each single origin has its own extractor, ensuring it tastes like nothing but itself.