Anyone that knows me will be well aware that I like to devote a good proportion of my spare time to hunting out the best coffee around. This week, I took one of those outings to Melbourne’s suburb of Carlton to check out Vertue Coffee Roasters.
This cafe reputation proceeded itself so, it was somewhere that had been on my list for a while. Like all good Melbourne cafes, Vertue coffee is tucked down a narrow alleyway that’s hidden behind the hustle and bustle on Lygon Street. In fact, the only way you’d know it was there is because of the little signpost labeled ‘coffee’, that’s pointing in its direction.
I’m completely in love with the decor of this cafe. The building actually used to be an old stable and as a consequence, it has the high ceilings and a large amount of space that’s generally lacking from Melbourne cafes.
Once you get into the cafe, the first thing to tempt you is the gorgeous selection of cakes and pastries that are displayed next to the takeaway coffee section. Head further in and the cafe opens up into a spacious and bright seating area where you can sit down to a cup of coffee of a full-on brunch.
Little Rogue Coffee and Brother Baba Budan, Melbourne
I can’t believe that it’s already February! Life just seems to be going by way too quickly here in Melbourne. At the start of the new year, I decided that 2019 was going to be the year that I really push myself to achieve my goals (or at least try to). As I’m in Australia on my working holiday, I figured starting the year off on the other side of the world was a good place to start.
So far in between working, writing and seeing friends, It’s fair to say that I’ve not had much downtime. However, there’s always time for coffee (or in this case a Matcha) and I wanted to share a couple of quirky Melbourne cafe with you guys that I’ve stumbled across recently.
I’d never really got into the whole Matcha thing. That is until I came to Little Rogue. Their little menu has four main drink options: Black, White, Sakuratte (I’ll be doing a specific post about this drink soon) and Matcha. I’d seen photos of their Matcha lattes online so I decided to pass on my usual Flat White and give it a try: I’m so glad I did. The matcha latte comes slightly sweetened, with really balances out the strong taste of the green tea powder. It was so delicious and I honestly have been daydreaming about it ever since.
I was recommended this cafe by my flatmate’s boyfriend and I don’t think I would have found it on my own. Little Rogue is tucked down a graffiti-filled alleyway and there’s very little to indicate it’s there at all apart from the occasional person emerging through a non-descript door carrying coffee. This quirky cafe even markets itself as being ‘the blue door next to the white cat’.
The cafe is really small inside so the best way to guarantee a seat is to go by yourself. However, if you can bag a seat, It’s one of the most relaxing cafes in Melbourne to pass the time. Little Rogue also has a small selection of cakes to choose from including a delicious looking matcha cheesecake. I’ll be back soon.
B R O T H E R B A B A B U D A N
I have been wanting to visit this eclectic cafe for a while now and I finally stopped by the other day. This cafe is hailed by coffee snobs all over Melbourne for its fantastic coffee and highly trained barista’s. However, what I went there for, was the aesthetics. Brother Baba Budan has the craziest decor around, with a whole load of chairs hanging off the ceiling: great for your Insta’s. They probably could have done with a few of those on the floor, to be honest, the only downside is that seating is pretty sparse.
There are lots of new blog posts and exciting projects coming up over the next few so stay tuned on the blog. I’m also always on the lookout for any Melbourne related recommendations so please drop me a message if you have any recommendations too.
Best for: Vietnamese coffee, International coffee, cakes, lunch, solo coffee outings
The beautiful lantern filled ancient town of Hoi An in Vietnam is somewhere that holds a special place in my heart. It was a place that I had been desperate to visit for long time and when I went there on my solo travels in Asia Last year, I loved it even more than I’d expected to- in fact I loved it so much that I stayed twice the length of time that I’d originally intended. So, what makes Hoi An so special?
What I loved moved about Hoi An was its sheer beauty. Narrow lanes, covered in colourful hanging lanterns, with a little river running through the centre of it. There’s no denying that the town is touristy but having said this, it somehow manages to maintain its authenticity. I loved tucking into a big bowl of noodles at the bustling Central Market in the day, perusing the night market in the evenings and of course exploring the many wonderful cafes that Hoi An has to offer.
There are a lot of places to get your caffeine fix in Hoi An and out of all them, Hoi An Roastery was my favourite. It’s actually a local cafe chain and they have six locations in the town but my favourite one was their original location by the Japanese bridge. I came here most days to read my book and enjoy a Ca Phe Sua Da or an egg coffee.
What I loved about Hoi An Roastery was the way that it managed to look really contemporary yet still in keeping with Hoi An’s traditional buildings. All of the cafes locations are all really spacious, light and open plan. That means that even if it rains- and when I was in Vietnam it rained a lot- it still felt like I was outside in the hustle and bustle of the towns streets even if I sat inside. Each and every one of the cafes locations offers a different scenic view of Hoi An. The cafe by the Japanese Bridge was my favourite for people watching but I also loved the upstairs balcony on the one by temple and the views over the river from its riverside location too.
Hoi An Roastery specialises in great coffee- in fact they source their own beans from nearby in Dalat, roast them in Hoi An and they have the best range of coffees around. While I would always advise to stick to the more traditional Vietnamese coffees (because once you get a taste for Vietnamese condensed milk coffee there is no going back), they also do fantastic espresso based coffees, great for travellers missing a taste of home. They also offer a section of sandwiches, traditional Vietnamese dishes and cakes. My advice- get the banana bread.
I’m not going to sit back and pretend these are the cheapest cafes in Hoi An- the little street side stalls frequented by the locals will always be your best bet, Hoi An Roastery’s cafes are however, still fairly cheap and as a chain, it beats Starbucks anytime.
Best for: Takeaway, early morning coffee, cakes, pastries, locally roasted coffee, whole beans for sale
In a nutshell
Easily one of my favourite cafes in Melbourne, Dukes Coffee Roasters is a must visit for all coffee lovers in the city. It’s not a sit down all morning and have brunch kind of cafe, in fact, it’s predominately a grab and go kind of place. However, if you can bag yourself a seat then it’s the best place to sit back and watch the hustle and bustle of mornings in Melbourne with a Flat White coffee.
In terms of decor, Duke’s really is your typical Melbourne cafe, meaning it’s small, a little atmospherically dark and quite minimalistic with an eclectic yet modern feel.
The cafe is located right in the heart of the city’s coffee district on Flinders Lane and Dukes is one of those cafes that I had meaning to try for a while but I’d never been able to get a table. My advice- go early on a Saturday. On Saturday mornings Dukes opens at 9am and you really need to get there then if you don’t want a takeaway.
Dukes offers a range of coffees, teas and hot chocolates. They also have, what I think is the best selection of cakes, pastries and biscuits around. I had to cave in and get a peanut butter and chocolate cookie which was superb: healthy eating starts next week.
I was told that the best coffee I would ever have would be in Australia- and the best city to find it in was Melbourne. Now after being in the Australian city for a few weeks, I can vouch that it is true: Melburnians have a bit of a love affair with coffee. They love it so much in fact, that the city free walking tour even included a trip to a cafe for Flat Whites.
Melbourne snobby love of a good cuppa is infamous, and Melbourne barista’s are actually sought after by cafes around the world. Melbourne is after all, the city that defied Starbucks, favouring independent cafes and brunch spots. Supposedly there’s not a bad cup of coffee to be found in the city and so far I’d have to agree with that.
Considering that Australia is the birthplace of the Flat White and responsible for the well established latte art culture that we are all used to worldwide, I feel that I have to take what Melbourne’s coffee menus say as bible. However when I got here, the thing that surprised me most was just how big of a difference there is between the typical Australian versions of coffees and the ones I am used to in England.
After working in a cafe here in Melbourne along with working my way through a lot of caffeine filled beverages in the city, I feel that I know a fair bit about Melbourne coffee culture. So, I thought that I would make this guide on the Australian coffee menu for all of the other confused coffee loving travellers out there- now you can order your morning pick me up without feeling like an outsider.
Here’s how to order coffee in Melbourne
The Flat White in Melbourne is like the tea to England so it’s always a safe bet if you don’t know what to order. In Melbourne, a Flat White is a little like a latte. It really comes down to the thickness of the froth- a true Flat White should consist of espresso with hot steamed milk and only a thin layer of micro foam. It is also usually served in a cup, not a glass like a latte. Unlike in the UK, a flat white in Melbourne isn’t necessarily a stronger drink and usually just comes with just a single shot unless specified that it’s wanted ‘strong’.
Latte’s in Australia aren’t the soup bowl sized milky beverages that we are used to at home. A regular latte in Melbourne is fairly small in size, with a thin layer of froth that comes served in a tall glass.
Cappuccino’s seem to be the same all over the world. In Melbourne cappuccino’s consist of one shot of coffee, foamy milk and chocolate powder, usually sprinkled on top of the espresso shot before the milk is added, for aesthetics.
Americano lovers, this one is for you. Ask for an Americano in Australia and you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. Consisting of just coffee and water, the long black is your milk free coffee drink of choice. The main difference between the latter and an Americano is that the espresso is poured on top of the hot water, rather than first, as not to scorch the coffee, and it’s usually diluted with less water. It’s still acceptable to order milk at the side. Sorry to disappoint those visiting from the states, but filter coffee isn’t really a thing here.
That’s an espresso to us Europeans.
Short or Long Mac
Simply a single or double Macchiato. A small amount of foamy milk is spooned on top of an espresso, usually served in a glass cup.
No, I’m not talking about the drinking game. A piccolo or Cortado, as it known in Europe, comes down to the size of the glass. To make it, latte consistency milk is poured over an espresso served in a tiny glass- it’s just like a latte in minute form.
Don’t assume that an iced coffee is a sensible option when you’re looking for a cooling beverage: In Australia, an iced coffee usually comes served with ice cream. Generally the espresso shot is poured in a glass with a scoop of ice cream and then topped with cold milk. If you want it without the calories then it’s usually best to specify that you’d like a ‘iced latte’ or a ‘iced long black’
Bullet Coffee is something that I expected to see more of on the menu in Oz but it’s not actually that common. What makes a bullet coffee unique is that it is made with butter. Sounds odd? Well actually once melted, the butter turns the coffee the same colour as milk would and the fat from the butter is supposed to keep you fuller of longer and give you tons of energy, hence the ‘bullet’ part.
The humble chai latte is also a big thing in Melbourne. One of the more popular coffee alternatives, chai tea powder is mixed to a paste, topped with hot milk and finished with warming cinnamon powder.
Hot chocolate in Melbourne is all about the athletics; expect beautiful latte art on top of your cocoa.
Turmeric Lattes are something that have become quite popular in the UK too. To make them, a small amount of turmeric powder and usually something to sweeten it with, are mixed to a paste with water and then topped off with hot milk. The vivid yellow colour of this drink makes it appealing and it’s caffeine free meaning that it’s a good choice for the afternoon.
Matcha Latte’s aren’t just popular in Melbourne’s Chinatown; you can usually order these green coloured drinks in the city’s more trendy cafes. Green tea matcha powder is mixed to a paste and topped off with hot steamed milk. The matcha powder is supposed to be high in antioxidants and has a smooth, strong taste.
As usual, I hope that you guys enjoyed this post and found it useful. Does anything in this post surprise you or more importantly, do you disagree with anything that I’ve said? Let me know in the comments below. Similarly, if anyone has any cafe recommendations for Melbourne then I would love to hear about these too.
Best for: Brunch, lunch, coffee with friends, takeaway
As much as I love Brighton, sometimes I do feel like I’ve exhausted all the coffee shops. Luckily for me London is just an hour away. However the issue is with London is that everything takes that little bit more planning and it’s not often I just happen to walk past good independent coffee shops in the city centre so a day trip means that some prior research is always involved.
After looking online I decided to head to Shoreditch, East central London, which is apparently where all the cool people hang out. I’ve been to Shoreditch before but I feel like I’ve never really understood it. Sure, I’ve found a few vintage shops, some street graffiti and a couple of coffee shops but nothing like the hipster haven that it’s hailed to be online. Anyway this time I decided to do a bit more research and try to get to grips with the area.
I decided to head to Attendant, a cafe that I’d read about online, hailed for its Australian style brunches and good coffee. The cafe was easy enough to find and I immediately fell in love with its arty and contemporary decor and chilled vibe. Undoubtedly it’s mainly a brunch with friends kind of place because the main seating area is dominated by large tables although it has nice window seats at the front that are good for solo coffee lovers too.
The fact that you get seated in this cafe and pay at the end kind of put me on edge as it felt a little formal. Still the decor is fantastic. Clean, not grungy with lots of hanging plants and loads of space to relax.
The Menu and Prices
As I’m off travelling in Australia in a couple of weeks I thought I should save some money so I just went for a flat white. It was good and punchy and everything a flat white should be. At around £3 a coffee it’s pretty average for london prices and they bring over a bottle of cucumber water which is an added bonus. There’s a lot to choose from on the menu with all of the typical brunch dishes on offer like waffles, breakfast bowls and things on toast. If I wasn’t so stingy I would have probably gone for the house waffle with apricot compote, lemon mascarpone and meringue. Most dishes cost a reasonable £8.
After pretending to be productive on my laptop and taking up one of the window seats for a lot longer than I should have, I set off exploring Shoreditch. I randomly bumped into one of my best friends and ended up making dinner plans, scouted out a whole load of cool graffiti, admired some very cool vintage shops but couldn’t find anything that I’d actually wear and ended up at Spitalfields market which was a quirky mismatch of fruit and veg stalls, fancy restaurants, more vintage stalls and a dancing flash mob: Ok Shoreditch, I totally get you now.