You'll want to go out of your way to get your caffeine fix at these inner-city cafes.
Hardware Lane has lots of things to offer the hungry and thirsty but since the departure of Hardware Societe last year, good coffee has been hard to find. That's changed since Maker turned on its gleaming La Marzocco in Little Bourke Street in November. Serving Richmond locals since 2015 (and South Yarra following that), this cafe and roastery is ready to share the love with city slickers. Snag some bench or stool real estate in the bright corner space, and don't be afraid to ask staff your novice coffee questions. Best seats are at the sunny brew bar with a view of a Madeline Simpson painting of fruit, coffee and pastries.
A change of pace for Carlton, Good Measure is a warm and relaxed cafe that also moonlights as a low-waste cocktail bar after 5pm. Morning people will love what co-owner Mitchell Miller is doing with Code Black beans, whether you want seasonal espresso or a V60 pour-over made to order while records play. The food offer is purposefully minimal: Miller's own cheesecake, cinnamon-pecan babka from microbakery Spitz's and three rotating sandwiches.
Specialty coffee has landed smack-bang on the Swanston Street thoroughfare, with Puzzle offering the prized Ninety Plus Gesha, edible cups that cut down on waste and espresso from ultra-minimal Modbar machines. Coffee is the focus but pastries, crullers and more are delivered by Rustica each day. Recognising that growing coffee comes with environmental responsibility, the bright white cafe also offers fully compostable cups, lids and straws by I Am Not Paper and plants a tree for every bag of coffee sold, and every 100 cups of coffee served.
It's now possible to get coffee from Japan, no passport required. CBD newcomer Hikari, also on Swanston, uses beans from heavy-hitters Onibus, Weekenders and Kurasu, as well as single-origin matcha and hojicha sourced and roasted in Kyoto. Coffee rotates nearly every month, backed up by a tight edit of pastries from locals including Via Porta. The tiny space seats eight but there's room for charming Japanese homewares from the likes of Studio M', 1616/Arita Japan and more, all for sale.
Pourover coffee at Hikari. Photo: Supplied
The prize for Melbourne's best-looking cafe could go to Square & Compass' second location in South Melbourne, where Flack Studio has deployed metres of marble, organic curves and high-contrast colours in the stunning 60-seater that's part of a brand-new office building. Fans of the East Melbourne menu will see the same hearty salads, grab-and-go rolls, eggs and more, joined by Vacation Coffee, the house brand. Bonus: it boasts an attractive outdoor set-up, too.
Maker 387 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, makercoffee.com.au
Good Measure 193 Lygon Street, Carlton, instagram.com/goodmeasuremelbourne
Puzzle 133 Swanston Street, Melbourne, puzzle.coffee
Hikari 317 Swanston Street, Melbourne, hikarilife.com.au/coffee
Square & Compass 31 Chessell Street, South Melbourne, squareandcompass.com.au