Savour Melbourne’s best coffee spots with coffee expert Jane Ormond

(Image credit: Ben Clement)

Baristas at Patricia Coffee Roasters, Melbourne

From Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar to Patricia Coffee Brewers to Clement, here are eight of the best cafes to get your caffeine fix in Australia’s capital of coffee.


Melbourne regularly hits the “world’s best coffee cities” lists, and once you start exploring the nooks and crannies of its laneways and inner-city suburbs, you’ll see why. It’s a town for coffee purists – more pour-over than pumpkin spice latte.

Melbourne’s coffee culture started percolating thanks to a post-war wave of Italian immigrants who brought their gleaming espresso machines with them. By the 1980s, the coffee scene had morphed into the city’s famed cafe culture, with its penchant for avocado-heavy brunches, and not long after that, local roasters and baristas took Melbourne coffee into the stratosphere.

Melbourne coffee today champions a sustainable and ethical approach, using brewing methods that highlight the qualities of the bean. Many roasters showcase exclusive Cup of Excellence microlots – small harvests of rare or unusual coffee plants that present similar flavour profiles to seasonal wines – and some offer free “cuppings” (coffee tastings) that are open to the public if you want a front seat to the latest beans in town. From the historic to the iconic to the symphonic, here are some of Melbourne’s tastiest java joints.

An icon of Melbourne's coffee culture, Pellegrini's has been serving coffee since 1954 (Credit: Michael Holloway/Alamy)

An icon of Melbourne’s coffee culture, Pellegrini’s has been serving coffee since 1954 (Credit: Michael Holloway/Alamy)

1. Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar

For any coffee lover landing in Melbourne, Pellegrini’s has to be your first stop. This is the OG, located on Bourke Street since 1954 and started by a pair of Italian brothers toting, reportedly, one of first espresso machines in Melbourne. This corner cafe, with its cursive red neon signage that makes every Melburnian’s heart sing, has been an enduring staple of Melbourne’s evolving coffee culture.

They’ve been serving Vittorio coffee for decades, dosing out those shot-in-the-arm short blacks with aplomb, and nothing has changed. There’s still the grey-and-black chequered floor, the worn red stools lining the bar, the simple Italian homestyle menu hanging from a wooden sign, the faded posters and postcards on the wall. And yet it doesn’t feel like a time warp. It just feels like a slice of straight-up Italian heart and soul.

Tragically, one of the later owners, the beloved Sisto Malaspina, who always wore a kicky neckerchief and a broad smile, was murdered in a terror attack in 2018, just a few blocks from Pellegrini’s. There was a state funeral held for him, and there’s a memorial table fixed outside the cafe so you can raise a caffeinated glass to him and the cafe that ignited a city’s coffee culture.

Address: 66 Bourke St, CBD
Phone: +61
3 9662 1885

Marios was one of the first places in Melbourne to offer all-day breakfasts (Credit: Andrew Watson/Alamy)

Marios was one of the first places in Melbourne to offer all-day breakfasts (Credit: Andrew Watson/Alamy)

2. Marios

Back in the day, the only place you could get breakfast in Melbourne was either at a greasy spoon or an international hotel buffet. When Marios (founded by two Italian-Australian friends, both called Mario) opened in the inner-city suburb of Fitzroy in 1986, they noticed that a lot of the artistic locals weren’t exactly early risers and they’d come sloping into the cafe in desperate need of coffee and eggs at 15:00. They realised that if they offered all-day breakfasts (alongside their breezy, casual Italian bistro menu), they’d be providing a much-needed service to their bohemian neighbours. So you could say that it was Marios that kicked off Melbourne’s much loved – and internationally envied – cafe scene.

Read  The tour's best short-range putter has some good advice for the rest of us | Instruction

Of course, first and foremost, their coffee is a knockout. It’s roasted locally to their signature “urban mix” blend, and it’s especially good as a long black (with a slice of their ricotta, chocolate and date torte). Grab a window seat at this charismatic cafe, where the walls are papered with posters for upcoming theatre shows, shelves heave with jars of Marios’ housemade jam and the back half of the slender space acts as a gallery for local artists.
Address: 303 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Phone: +61
3 9662 1885

Market Lane sells books, beans and equipment as well as excellent coffee (Credit: Jane Ormond)

Market Lane sells books, beans and equipment as well as excellent coffee (Credit: Jane Ormond)

3. Market Lane

There was a time when Melburnians thought coffee was just coffee. Oh, how far we’ve come. Now we understand provenance, sustainability and flavour profiles, and we have due respect for the beans and the farmers who grow them. Market Lane, established in 2009 by Jason Scheltus and Fleur Studd, was one of the key drivers of the specialty coffee scene in Melbourne, committing to transparency, seasonality and an ethical and environmentally aware approach.

They have several locations in Melbourne but the original one in Prahran Market is gorgeous in its minimalism. On entry, there are shelves of books, beans and equipment – travel brewing kits, pocket scales, Aeropresses in natty drawstring bags. Then there’s the simple brew bar and a cabinet of pastries.

The coffee menu is broken down into espresso drinks, iced coffees, pour overs and coffee teas. If you’re in the mood for an espresso, there’s a seasonal blend or a rotating single origin. Although, if you’re in need of something refreshing after trawling the spoils of the market, treat yourself to an espresso spritz – it’s a double shot with tonic water and ice. It’ll become your feel-good hit of the summer.

Address: Shop 13, Prahran Market, South Yarra

Instagram: @marketlane

Omar and the Marvellous Coffee Bird focusses on sourcing the best beans and brewing them with love (Credit: Jane Ormond)

Omar and the Marvellous Coffee Bird focusses on sourcing the best beans and brewing them with love (Credit: Jane Ormond)

4. Omar and the Marvellous Coffee Bird

South of the city and pitched just off a roaring eight-lane highway lies a coffee oasis hidden in a little red-brick corner building. Omar and the Marvellous Coffee Bird is an intimate cafe and roastery with a kooky, industrial fit-out and an enormous, handsome roaster. (They also have a training space next door where they hold small-scale classes if you want to take some Melbourne coffee-making knowledge home with you.)

Tables are fixed onto tracks set into the terrazzo floor, so you can slide them along to configure them into the number of seats you want. Baristas here are bright and passionate, keen to serve you the exact blend and brew you’re in the mood for, like a light roast Kenyan pour-over with brown sugar notes to sip on late in the afternoon. It’s brewed perfectly and served in a cream-and-white Japanese ceramic cup.

Read  How to Think Outside the Box and Revolutionize the Customer Journey

If you’re hungry, there’s a clutch of lovely brunchy dishes like a zesty tuna melt and an oozy Welsh Rarebit. Omar really is a hidden treasure – it’s mellow and friendly and all about sourcing the best beans and brewing them with love.

Address: 124 Gardenvale Rd, Gardenvale

Phone: +61 3 9596 4186
Instagram: @omarcoffeebird

Disciple Cellar Door is for coffee purists, with just 10 seats and 15 premium black coffees (Credit: Jane Ormond)

Disciple Cellar Door is for coffee purists, with just 10 seats and 15 premium black coffees (Credit: Jane Ormond)

5. Disciple Cellar Door

Down a Brunswick backstreet stands a graffitied little building next to a vacant lot. Nothing special. Until you step inside and then it’s 100% special. This magical little box, with its steampunk-meets-understated-Japanese decor and its ethereal soundtrack, is the coffee cellar door of Disciple Coffee Hustlers.

Table of Contents


If you’re on the southside of the city, get your Disciple fix at Monk Bodhi Dharma.

With just 10 seats and 15 premium black coffees, this is where coffee disciples come to worship. These selections are the absolute cream of the crop, which is why they’re only offered black, so you can really taste the bean. The selections are seasonal, and the roasters work closely with the farmers to source the most premium coffee (some with price tags that reflect their rarity).

Take a seat (they’re made to look like vinyl records) and the staff will talk you through the various options and their characteristics. Order a batch brew, served in a shiny teal Daruma-esque Disciple pottery cup, and don’t be surprised if they bring you a sample of the other batches to compare and discuss. This one has notes of white peach. This one is more like cotton candy. It’s all about savouring the subtleties. And it’s wonderful. Surprise the coffee purist with this little adventure – it’s like the best secret coffee club house in town.

Address: 16 Black St, Brunswick

Instagram: @discipleroasters

Locals will happily queue for coffee at Patricia Coffee Brewers (Credit: Ben Clement)

Locals will happily queue for coffee at Patricia Coffee Brewers (Credit: Ben Clement)

6. Patricia Coffee Brewers

Down towards the business end of the city, you might see a bunch of corporate types loitering, for no apparent reason, in a laneway alongside a dark grey building on Little Bourke Street. Investigate further and you’ll see they’re waiting for their coffee order from the peachy-pink and popular Patricia Coffee Brewers, tucked at the rear of the building.

The entrance to this pretty little pad is flanked by sturdy potted plants, and the floor tiles say “standing room only”.  It’s a constraint devotees definitely don’t have a problem with, happily queuing up in their numbers for a cup of Patricia’s consistently smooth coffee, and hopefully snagging a bit of elbow room on the window sill or along the sleek marble bar.

The menu is straightforward – black, white, filter – and the price point is surprisingly friendly, too. The interior is kept simple: white tiles, dark floorboards, hints of soft pink in the bags of take-home beans and a neon sign hovering overhead that says “sunshine”. Patricia roasts its own beans, serving a seasonal Patricia blend as well as showcasing guest coffees, and there’s cabinets of glossy pastries from some of Melbourne’s best bakeries, such as Mörk and Sucette, in case you need a cardamom bun with your long black.

Read  8 Best Above-Ground Pools of 2023, Reviewed by Experts

Address: Rear 493-495 Little Bourke St, CBD

Phone: +61 3 9642 2237
Instagram: @pcoffeebrewers

Aunty Peg's is part vintage-chic coffee boutique, part industrial roastery and part coffee bar (Credit: Jane Ormond)

Aunty Peg’s is part vintage-chic coffee boutique, part industrial roastery and part coffee bar (Credit: Jane Ormond)

7. Aunty Peg’s

Perennially popular Collingwood cafe, Proud Mary (who have also opened branches in Portland and Austin in the US) flies the flag for superb coffee and elevated cafe fare (the tahini eggs and buckwheat ricotta waffle!). But if you want to focus solely on their coffee, nip around the corner and down the hill to Aunty Peg’s, their roastery and coffee bar.

This sprawling warehouse space is part vintage-chic coffee boutique, with colourful Moccamasters and shelves of psychedelic coffee bags, part industrial roastery and part curved and relaxing coffee bar. Pull up a stool and peruse the menu of pour-overs (including deluxe offerings), espressos, cold drips and a snap chill, which is dispensed from the equivalent of a beer tap.

When you’ve chosen your beans, the barista will grind them and give them to you to smell before brewing them with patience and care. Then it’s all about gently sipping your drink and immersing yourself in the experience. If you’re not sure what your palate prefers, you can always order a pour-over flight. Aunty Peg’s also offers free cupping sessions every couple of weeks, so you can get a taster for the latest seasonal beans.

Address: 200 Wellington St, Collingwood

Phone: +61 3 9417 1333
Instagram: @auntypegsbypmc

Order a coffee at Clement before exploring the rest of South Melbourne Market (Credit: Jane Ormond)

Order a coffee at Clement before exploring the rest of South Melbourne Market (Credit: Jane Ormond)

8. Clement

Small in size but epic in flavour, Clement is a Lilliputian coffee hut nestled in along the side of South Melbourne Market, amidst stalls selling French-toasted sandwiches and fat, fist-sized dim sims. Shimmy inside and see what beans are on rotation. Clement source some special seasonal beans, showcasing interesting single origins as well as their enduring signature house blends like the stone fruit and caramel-heavy Pony and the Beaufort with notes of apple jam, fudge and milk chocolate.

They roast their beans in nearby Port Melbourne and brew up from this adorable cubby with its colourful mosaic-like painting on the back wall and its shelves of bagged beans on the other. There’s always a selection of pastries available – they keep it simple at a place like this when every kind of food your heart desires is within sticky-fingered reach – and there’s only outdoor seating available at Clement. Their colourful wooden folding chairs and cute little tables are ensconced in the bustle of this famous market and there’s nothing more soul-soothing than taking a seat and enjoying a silky-smooth latte from Clement while all the bustle and wonder of the market swirls around you.
Address: Unit 89, South Melbourne Market, Cecil St
Phone: + 61 415 763 089
Instagram: @clementcoffee


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button