Confessions Of A Melbourne Barista: Spilling the beans of what it’s like to make coffee in Melbourne 

Confessions Of A Melbourne Barista: Spilling the beans of what it's like to make coffee in Melbourne 

I love the routine that I have going in Melbourne- and when I’m not busy writing or out exploring the city, you’ll find me at my cafe job, making coffees.

Coffee making is something that I’ve been doing on and off for the last few years back in England- ever since I was seventeen and I got my first cafe job. It’s a job that I not only enjoy but it’s one that has enabled me to fund many a trip over the last few years.

If you’ve never done it and you too love drinking coffee and enjoy chatting to the public then I would encourage you to go on a barista course: it’s a valuable set of skills to have that you can use anywhere in the world- plus cafe work can be a lot of fun.

Having said that, before I got to Melbourne I was very doubtful that I’d manage to find a coffee making job at all. Melbourne is famous for its coffee and boasts some of the best baristas and cafes in the world.

I was worried that I wouldn’t make the cut.

Thankfully, by some miracle, I managed to find some work pretty quickly. Since then my coffee-making abilities and my caffeine tolerance have been pushed to the limit- but being a barista has never been more fun than here.

On difficult coffee orders

It’s always when I have a ton of dockets up that I get that request for- an extra hot, dirty chai latte with almond milk, please. To the average person, coffee is coffee, right? Well to many customers there are a lot of variables and common requests include everything from burning hot to weak, 3/4 full, in a mug, made using particular brands of milk or made with varying quantities of foam.

On coconut milk

Soy, almond and lactose-free are fine but I’m sorry coconut milk is just a nightmare to work with.

On regular customers

We have a lot of regular customers who come to get coffee and chatting to them makes my day. Most people are really friendly and will always ask questions about you and what you’re doing. I always try and remember the names of our regulars, but between staff members, we often refer to people by their coffee order instead.

On the people that don’t know what they want

In Melbourne more than any other city, there are a lot of customers who know exactly what they want when it comes to coffee. The other half- Well they don’t have a foggy clue. Requests for ‘just a coffee’ are the norm. Sometimes you’ll bring over a short mac and they’ll laugh or complain that their cappuccino is too foamy. Difficult requests are the worst but those customers that require a breakdown of every single coffee on the menu, well they come pretty close.

On making coffee

Melbourne is famous for its coffee and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what makes the coffee different here to coffee at home in England- and I’m sorry, there is a difference. The fundamentals are that coffees in Australia are generally weaker, with a regular size containing just one shot of espresso. However, the coffee sizes are also smaller here so it evens it out. in Australia, a lot more emphasis is given to the espresso shot here- whereas in England its all about the aesthetics (aka latte art). Here the baristas know the importance of packing the coffee properly and they can spot the difference between an over and under-extracted shot: something that I had to get to grips with.

On coffee making hacks 

A barista will know that there is a difference between a latte and a flat white-despite the cup. That being that a flat white should have virtually no foam. However, if you’re inundated with coffee orders, you can use the same milk to make the two. Just pour the flat white first, holding the milk jug at a height so that the foam doesn’t sit on the coffee. Then use the remainder of the milk to make the latte.

On Magic Coffee 

Contrary to the name, no special powers are required here. Magic coffee is a special Melbourne creation- and it’s quite a particular one. Technically, a magic coffee is like a smaller stronger latte that is made over a double ristretto or restricted espresso ( that’s the first half of the espresso shot only). If you were to serve this is in a normal latte glass, you would then top it up to two thirds full with steamed latte milk.

On Melbourne

There are a lot of fantastic cafes and baristas in Melbourne. I don’t claim to be anywhere near the best however I wanted to assure anyone that’s coming to the city and hoping to find cafe work. There’s a lot of prestige that goes with being a Melbourne Barista- but you don’t have to be a latte art genius or a pro at grinder calibrations to get a job. You need to be chatty, hard-working, enthusiastic and most importantly, you need to have a love of coffee and a drive to find out as much as you can about making and drinking it.

So don’t let your fears hold you back. If you’re looking for a coffee-making job in Melbourne, just get out there, get chatting and hand out some CVs. After all, it’s worth a shot.

Hoi An Roastery Cafe Review Hoi An

review cafe hoi an roastery

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.

review cafe an hoi roastery an hoi

review cafe an hoi roastery an hoi

review cafe an hoi roasters an hoi

The Decor

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.

The Menu

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.

Dukes Coffee Roasters Review Melbourne

FeaturedMelbourne: The Best Cafes For 20- Somethings

Best for: Takeaway, early morning coffee, cakes, pastries, locally roasted coffee, whole beans for sale

melbourne review dukes coffee roasters melbourne review dukes coffee roasters

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.

The Decor 

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 Location

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.

The Menu

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. 

 

https://www.dukescoffee.com.au

Dukes Coffee Roasters, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Looking for more cafes in Melbourne? Check out my other picks here. 

Journal Canteen Melbourne CBD Review

FeaturedMelbourne journal cafe

journal canteen melbourneBest for: Early mornings, solo coffee lovers, weekday brunch, sitting in, work friendly space 

I can’t believe that I’ve been in Melbourne for almost six weeks collectively and I’ve not done a cafe feature yet- believe me it’s not for lack of coffee drinking. Melbourne is an Australian city that’s famed for its coffee: supposedly there’s not a bad cup of coffee to be had here and so far I have to agree with that. As someone who has a severe caffeine addiction, I feel right at home in Melbourne and the irony is that I’ll look for food in the reduced section of the supermarket but will always splash out for a coffee or two.

Since arriving in Melbourne, having got myself a job and being busy with christmas and New Year, indulgent coffee dates with myself and lazy mornings have been a rarity. However today I had the day off work and made it my mission to wake up early and accomplish everything I wanted to- and that primarily included going somewhere nice for morning coffee.

Journal Canteen

Today I went to Journal Cafe which is located right in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the city in one of my favourite roads,  Flinders Lane. I though this cafe would be a good one to do a bit of a feature on as it’s about as Melbournian a cafe as you can get.

journal canteen melbourne

The Decor

Journal canteen is not quite a cafe, not quite a restaurant, a description that is apt for a lot of Melbourne’s coffee shops. However unlike a lot of the eating and drinking establishments in the city centre, Journal has lots of room to sit in. It’s open plan decor means that it’s spacious, bright and best of all it’s not imposing if you’re just wanting to have a coffee by yourself.

The Menu and prices

Whether you’re just after a quick coffee, a cooked breakfast or a sit down meal, Journal’s simple but accommodating menu has something to offer for everyone. The cafe offers all of the usual options for breakfast and then a small selection of pasta dishes and roasts for lunch and dinner. The staff were really welcoming and the service was so efficient. Prices in the cafe are average for Melbourne, around $16 for mains and $5  for a coffee.

melbourne journal canteen

I didn’t have anything that fancy this morning apart from a coffee and a croissant: obligatory despite having just had breakfast. The coffee was excellent and the croissant was warm and flaky. They have a handful of newspapers on the counter ready to read. All in all it’s a nice place to start the day off in the city.

Journal Canteen, 254 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

The Wild Flour Cafe: How Cute Is This Campervan Cafe In Brighton’s Countryside?

Featured

Best for: breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea, vegan and veggie options

Last Sunday I had planned on having a blog free day. No writing, no editing, no taking photos for blog posts. Nothing. Nada.

Instead I’d decided to treat myself to a proper Sunday off which involved: A walk in the countryside, making something nice for lunch, doing some baking then sitting down with some ginger cake and a movie.

We’re so lucky in Brighton that we’ve got the seafront at one end and the South Downs at the other. I love both places but the countryside wins hands down every time. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of freedom I get from escaping into the countryside, looking back over the town and breathing in the fresh air: Of course there is that whole matter of trying to avoid the cows muck.

Anyway when me and my dad parked up the car and set off on our walk I was thinking of anything but new blog ideas and edits or photos which was nice for a change so, imagine my surprise when we walked into the tiniest little village and found the cutest campervan cafe serving vegan and vegetarian brunches and homemade cakes in the middle of the countryside. Now how could I not blog about that?

Wildflower cafe BrightonWildflower cafe BrightonWildflower cafe Brighton

The Wild Flour Cafe

This gorgeous little cafe is located in Saddlescombe, a TINY village just a short walk through the countryside from Devils Dyke (which you can get the 77 bus to from Brighton’s town centre). There’s been a cafe here for the last few years (previously The Hiker’s Rest) but the new Wildflower cafe has really upped the game.

The cafe is located in a camper-van with its own little courtyard seating area that’s beautifully decorated with plants and hanging lights: Even its makeshift plant pots made out of used Golden syrup tins are quaint. It’s probably one of Brighton’s most peaceful cafes and the lack of phone service means that technology is kept at a minimum.

Open 10-5 Tuesday to Sunday from March to October and then weekends only in November, it’s a great place to come and get a cup of tea and some cake or a full-blown brunch in the brighter months. Everything is homemade and all of the cakes looked incredible (especially the freshly baked scones that came out just as I was leaving). Plus the best thing is because I’d walked through the countryside to get here, I felt like I totally deserved a sweet treat.

All of the brunches are Vegetarian or vegan and very reasonably priced. Options included Mushroom and Blackbean Ragu and Halloumi and Houmous Pita. Everything I saw looked absolutely delicious.

(The cafe doesn’t take card payments so just remember to bring some cash with you or you’ll have had a wasted walk).

Wildflower cafe BrightonWildflower cafe Brighton

Wildflower cafe BrightonWildflower cafe Brighton

 

Attendant cafe review, Shoreditch, London

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.

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The Decor

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.

Ice N Beans cafe Review, Caye Caulker, Belize

Ice N Beans, Caye Caulker Belize
Peanut butter smoothie at Ice N Beans, Caye Caulker Belize

Ice N Beans, Caye Caulker BelizeCaye Caulker: A tiny island, just five kilometres in length with no roads that’s situated just off the mainland in Belize, Central America, wasn’t a place that I expected to find a good coffee shop, yet Ice N Beans was just that.

Despite its undeniably Caribbean culture I was pleasantly surprised to see that when it came to eating, it wasn’t all jerk chicken and there were a surprising amount of veggie, vegan and gluten-free cafes and restaurants with Ice N Beans by far being my favourite.

With its early opening times, good coffee, gluten-free and veggie options this cafe has really tapped into what people want making it the go to place to chill on the island.

The Location

With its location right on the beachfront of Caye Caulker there couldn’t be a more idealistic setting for a coffee shop. The entire vibe of this paradise like island invites you to chill but If you really have some work to do then the little balcony area in this cafe that overlooks the ocean is the perfect place to go and be productive and if that doesn’t scream ‘life/work balance’ then I don’t know what does.

The Decor 

I don’t think anywhere on Caye Caulker could be described as fancy Ice N Beans is just another place that fits in to the chilled vibe of the island. The main building is essentially a wooden hut and this cafe is tiny inside but it has plenty of seats and benches out the front on the sand. Expect there to be a queue out the door, it’s a popular place but it’s well worth the wait.

The Menu

First and foremost Ice and Beans does great coffee. All their beans are organic and locally grown in Belize and they offer a huge range of hot, iced and blended coffee drinks. What sold it for me was the free hot donut that comes with every drink you order plus the multiple smoothie samples that I got handed while waiting in line: I had to start turning them down as there were so many.

With its early opening time at six in the morning this cafe is a must go for breakfast. They have lots of healthy options including yoghurt bowls that you can build your own by choosing the type of yoghurt, fruit and topping you want. They also do incredible yoghurt smoothies and protein shakes: The peanut butter and banana one was heavenly.

The cafe has a range of bagels on offer too: The Nutty Monkey with Nutella, banana and almonds was my favourite. Ice and beans mini donuts are also available to buy by the bag along with their iconic bubble waffles and rum balls.

The Prices

Caye Caulker is a really expensive island but Ice N Beans is one of the cheaper places with coffees costing around £2 and bagels from £3.