Best coffee in the Melbourne CBD

The Age Good Cafe Guide 2014 launches on Monday.
The Age Good Cafe Guide 2014 launches on Monday. 


Seven Seeds is one of Melbourne's premier third-wave roasters, and Traveller joins Brother Baba Budan as a hip city showcase for its coffee. Expect the tangy seasonal blend for espresso, plus a single origin batch-brew for filter fans. We love the informal coffee school that gathers in Crossley Street each morning – so Melbourne.
Good for ... A batch filter brew and a Cobb Lane cake
Beans: Seven Seeds
Shop 2, 14 Crossley Street, Melbourne, no phone

The Hawthorn specialty roaster and mega-cafe finally has a city presence. This tight space is meant for takeaways and quick standups of Axil's seasonal blends and single origins – via the Spirit espresso machine or the Clever Dripper for filter fans. A giant photo-realistic piece of spraycan art by local hero Adnate keeps watch over the morning rush.
Good for ... A milky takeaway and an office catch up
Beans: Axil
76 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, no phone


This white-tiled bar serves espresso and filter brews from Melbourne's best specialty roasters – Seven Seeds, Market Lane et al – to a suity crowd from a tight space behind the Supreme Court. Don't miss the Patricia single origins roasted by none other than Tim Varney: "the other Tim'' in specialty coffee circles (he roasted for Tim Wendelboe in Oslo; that's coffee royalty).
Good for ... Tasting a selection of Melbourne's best coffee
Beans: Patricia, Seven Seeds
493–495 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, no phone

Sbriga is a new-school-old-school Roman-style bar that brews a classic Allpress blend for tangy, toasty short blacks. It's an Italian-ish coffee experience with a contemporary Melbourne twist. Breakfast, brunch and lunch on panini and pizza made on site.
Good for ... Bomba Thursdays: coffee and a custard doughnut
Beans: Allpress
Shop 3, 280 King Street, Melbourne, 9077 7653


The fitout is coolly post-modern in its use of perspex display boxes, white composite benchtops and lime-washed timber, while the coffee is brewed by pourover, Aeropress and plunger to produce subtle Scandinavian-style filter cups. The food is similarly subtle: a range of smorrebrod, slices of dark rye with cured meats and fish and pickled vegies, all made from scratch. Don't sweat it, though: there's good espresso coffee, too, and pastries from Tivoli Road.
Good for ... Scandi-themed coffee and brunch
Beans: Small Batch
555 Collins Street, Melbourne, 9620 1211

Eclipse Specialty Coffee
Tucked away at the back of the Rialto building is this specialty coffee den that features single origin beans from Brunswick roaster Code Black Coffee for a range of rich, tangy espressos and tasty filter-style brews.
Good for ... A specialty coffee hidey-hole
Beans: Code Black Coffee
495 Collins Street, Melbourne, 9629 7703


Brother Thomas
This bright, airy cafe features a user-friendly menu, views of Flagstaff Gardens (you could do a takeaway on a sunny day), a nutty, chocolatey house-roasted espresso blend that goes a treat in milk, and regular house-roasted single origins for filter coffee fans.
Good for ... House-roasted single origins
Beans: Brother Thomas
350 William Street, Melbourne, 9328 7535

Market Lane Coffee
Market Lane source their beans at origin through Melbourne Coffee Merchants and specialise in coffee from east Africa and Latin America roasted lightly for maximum fruity appeal. These really are beans to appreciate in a carefully made pourover. Their seasonal blends and single origins produce bright, fruity espresso in a third-wave style.
Good for ... Hand-made filter brews
Beans: Market Lane
109–111 Therry Street, Melbourne, no phone


Dukes Coffee Roasters
Dukes is a lovely coffee bar in Melbourne's downtown lane-way epicentre with a fitout that features antique French floor tiles and lustrous timber: the perfect ambience for enjoying a Dukes single origin filter brew, or maybe a quick espresso of their Ross House blend; some of the profits go to organisations doing good work in host building Ross House.
Good for ... An afternoon coffee in Melbourne's laneway heart
Beans: Dukes Coffee Roasters
247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, no phone

Sensory Lab
When you've traipsed from one end of the Melbourne shopping hive to the other – starting at Melbourne Central on Latrobe Street, winding through Emporium, Myer, DJs and the mall – this is where you'll pitch up for a hard-earned break over a short black of something dark, fruity and Colombian, a delicious flat white of the Sensory Seamless blend, or a single origin syphon brew.
Good for ... Downtown shopping coffee break
Beans: Sensory Lab, St Ali
297 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, 9645 0065


League of Honest Coffee
So good it's cruel – that was the verdict of The Age Good Cafe Guide reviewer on League's flat whites this year. We know what he means: Brunswick East roaster Padre's beans are on show here, whether the Daddy's Girl blend (the culprit in that flat white) or singles from Africa, Latin America and beyond, brewed espresso or filter style: you choose.
Good for ... Near-perfect milky coffee
Beans: Padre
8 Exploration Lane, Melbourne, 9654 0169

This is a quirky use of a bit of disused space at the back of Bennetts Lane Jazz Club: a narrow, woody upstairs-downstairs hidey hole where beans roasted by Joshua Bailey feature in new-wave but old-school espressos that are toasty, nutty and just a little fruit-tinged.
Good for ... A short black in a kooky space
Beans: Joshua Bailey
141–149 Latrobe Street, Melbourne, no phone


Long Shot
A cute, open space in a new Docklands office building where the focus is on quality breakfast and brunch snacks to feed the lanyard-swinging crowds, plus excellent brews of St Ali coffee – maybe a quick short black of the tangy, berry-fruited Sterling blend.
Good for ... A 21st-century atrium brunch break
Beans: St Ali
727 Collins Street, Docklands, 9525 7979

The Docklands waterfront needed some soul, they said. Who better to provide that than Seven Seeds in collaboration with Utopian Slumps and Folk Architects, and what better form than a pop-up glasshouse with an artist-inspired garden and artisan coffee from Melbourne's leading specialty roaster. Rustica Bakery (Fitzroy) and Cobb Lane (Yarraville) chip in with brunch snacks.
Good for ... Great coffee with a Docklands view
Beans: Seven Seeds
131–141 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, no phone

Matt Holden is editor of The Age Good Cafe Guide 2014, which launches on Monday, June 16. Follow the awards as they happen via the @goodfoodAU Twitter account, or the hashtag #AgeGoodCafeGuide, from about 6.30pm.

**The Age Good Cafe Guide 2014 will be available for $5 with The Age on Saturday, June 21 from participating newsagents, while stocks last. It will also be available in selected bookshops and online at for $9.99.