You’re in one of the world’s great coffee cities, with beautiful brews at countless cafes – but which ones are quintessentially Melbourne? From much-loved institutions to hidden holes-in-the-wall, staff and volunteers at the brand new Melbourne Visitor Hub at Town Hall have scoped out the neighbourhood and highly recommend these.
At the most instagrammed cake shop in town
Established in 1891 and named after Lady Hopetoun, wife of Victoria’s governor, Hopetoun Tea Rooms has perfected the English high-tea experience. It’s a memorable coffee destination too, especially if you also indulge in some cake from the window display that draws international crowds. There’s no better place for a taste of Melbourne tradition.
In a hidden gem
From bars to cafes, Melbourne loves hidden gems. Like Chapter House Coffee, tucked away in a gracious covered passageway of St Paul’s Cathedral. Get cosy inside this little cafe, or nab one of the seats outside and enjoy the heritage architecture. What to have with your single origin filter coffee? Perhaps a prosciutto piadina for brunch, or a late afternoon sweet treat.
With chocolate, and more chocolate
Enjoy two of Melbourne’s passions, coffee and chocolate, in one decadent place. Ganache Chocolate Lounge is famous for its exquisite cocoa creations, all of which make a coffee break an occasion. Go on, have one cheeky little chocolate. Why not a petit Parisian-style cake? Plus something else to go of course!
In a laneway
Filled with gorgeous little shops and indoor-outdoor cafes, Degraves Street is a quintessential Melbourne laneway and must-visit coffee spot. The outside Parisian-style tables at Degraves Espresso, one of the longest-serving cafes in the laneway, are busy all year round – with heaters to keep the crowds warm in winter.
Another hot spot which nails this lively thoroughfare’s classic European-style ambiance is The Quarter. From eggs benny to late-night sticky date pud, the menu is made to please.
In a laneway that is also a cafe
Many of Melbourne’s small cafes and bars are tucked down laneways, but Chuckle Park essentially is a laneway. It’s like a kooky little urban camp ground, complete with vintage caravan bar, outdoor furniture, faux flora and magical lanterns. The coffee isn’t camp-ground instant though. This is Melbourne after all, so ethically sourced beans from Honduras are handled with care by a local artisan roaster. Stick around with something equally good to eat, like a Reuben sandwich or Spanish-inspired frittata roll.
From a hole-in-the-wall
Melbourne can turn the tiniest nooks and crannies into destinations, like this hole-in-the-wall cafe that used to be a switchboard. If you have time and one of the handful of seats is free, don’t just get coffee to go. Switch Board Cafe has made a virtue of its diminutive size by focusing on easily prepared snacks, like toasties and bagels. Settle in for a unique dining experience.
Where the locals go
Speciality coffee roasting businesses are booming in Melbourne. Some, like Dukes Coffee Roasters, also have retail outlets where you can buy a cup of java as the makers intended. Locals love this place, which serves some of the best coffee in town using organic, ethically produced beans. Savour the goodness.
In Melbourne’s oldest arcade
How very Melbourne: an Italian-style cafe in Royal Arcade – the city’s oldest arcade. Caffe E Torta means coffee and cake, so get something sweet with your espresso, caffe latte or iced coffee. Even if it’s just a little biscotti. Though who can resist Italian doughnuts or the macaron dessert with fresh raspberries and mascarpone? Let time drift by as Royal Arcade’s old Gog and Magog statues chime their bells on the hour.
At the Italian institution
A Carlton legend for Italian coffee and cake, Brunetti opened its Flinders Lane outpost in 2017. The buzzing 300-seat Brunetti City is an instant classic that works any time of day or night. Come for the coffee, stay for the cakes, which lure you into la dolce vita from the huge window display. Maybe stay even longer, for wood-fired pizza capped off with that irresistible coffee dessert, affogato. Or get to their Flinders Lane store between 10 and 11am on Monday 1 October, and grab a free Brunetti x Lavazza blend coffee to celebrate International Coffee Day.
Amongst the art deco
Imagine you’re on a coffee date with Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers in one of Melbourne’s heritage icons, the Manchester Unity Building. Nestled among the foyer’s original Art Deco marble splendour, 1932 Cafe & Restaurant embraces the era’s décor. Linger over the breakfast-to-mid-afternoon menu, or really step back in time with the Meal and Tour experience.