#navbar-iframe { display: none; }

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Seven of Melbourne's best cafes

Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne

If coffee is your drug of choice, Melbourne will have you wired in no time. There are so many great cafes spread throughout the city you're spoilt for choice, and while Sydney's coffee playground tends to be dominated by a handful of major players, there's an enviable proliferation of small but successful roasters down south.

This isn't a definitive list of Melbourne's best cafes, but it's a head start on where you can get your next caffeine fix, whether you prefer a shot or a pour over.

Patricia Coffee Brewers

Entrance to Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne
The hidden entrance to Patricia Coffee Brewers

Finding Patricia Coffee Brewers is half the challenge, but keep an eye out for young hipsters sipping coffee while sitting on milk crates and you're almost there. The entrance is a sharp right off Little William Street, the doorway facing a row of commercial rubbish bins.

Coffee counter at Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne
Coffee counter at Patricia Coffee Brewers, with a brogue shoe of course

There are no seats inside Patricia (hence the people sitting in the alleyway outside) but there's a European sense of charm about the place with its white tiles, marble counter-tops and deep stained timbers. The sharp looking brogue sitting at the counter blends in like it's part of the scenery. Make sure you look up at the ceiling too, for a little neon-tubed sunshine.

Short black coffee at Patricia Coffee Brewers in Melbourne
Short black coffee $3.70

The coffee menu is deliberately short and sweet. There are only three options: black, white or filter, using beans sourced from Seven Seeds, Market Lane and Proud Mary. A complimentary glass of sparkling water is a lovely touch.

Market Lane Coffee

Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne

Market Lane Coffee is one of the bigger cafes in Melbourne, with four outlets dotted around the city. The Carlton branch is tiny, with most people placing orders directly through the window. If you do venture inside, there's a narrow corridor just outside the shop to stand-up and have your coffee.

Illimani Espresso coffee beans at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne
Illimani Espresso coffee beans

Market Lane source their own beans direct from the farm, and have a particular focus on beans from east African and Latin America. These are lightly roasted, making them ideal for filter coffees and pour overs. They also do darker roasts that suit espresso machines and stove top coffee makers.

Pour over coffee at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne
Making a pour over

Their distinctive uniform of long grey aprons over blue shirts are so hip it hurts, but the staff always seem genuinely excited about each cup of coffee they make.

Juan Ticona pour over coffee at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne
Juan Ticona pour over 

They take their pour overs seriously, using scales and times to get the perfect brew. Printed tasting notes earn bonus points too.

Coffee cup quote at Market Lane Coffee in Carlton, Melbourne

Hardware Societe

Outdoor seating at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Outdoor seating at Hardware Societe

At Hardware Societe, they use the Daddy's Girl blend by Padre coffee. The milk comes from St David Dairy in Fitzroy, a small batch micro-dairy using milk from Victorian farms.

Fried brioche with creme Catalan curd at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Fried brioche $18
Creme Catalan curd, fresh berries and sweet migas

There's as much of an emphasis on the food as the coffee here. The cafe gets ridiculously busy, especially on weekends. The menu has some lighter options, like bircher muesli ($13) and a Continental breakfast of granola with yoghurt, fruit and a croissant ($16) but much of it is unapologetically rich, like the fried brioche ($18) that comes with a rich and eggy Catalan curd. At lunch the weekday menu clicks over to hearty renditions of twice cooked pork belly ($21) and confit duck ($21).

Double shot flat white coffee at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Double shot flat white $4

In addition to the usual espresso mix, you can order cold drips ($4.50) and Clover coffee ($5). 

Clover coffee maker at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Clover coffee maker

Catalan custard inside the fried brioche at Hardware Societe in Melbourne
Catalan custard inside the fried brioche

Proud Mary

Entrance to Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne

You have to get off the main drag of Smith Street to find Proud Mary, nestled in the side streets of Collingwood.

Six-group customised Synesso espresso machine at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Six-group customised Synesso Hydra espresso machine

Taking pride of place behind the counter is their custom-made beast of an espresso machine, two three-group Synessos that have been melded together to create one helluva coffee engine. The gleaming chrome finish is flawless. It's the only six-group Synesso in the world.

Macchiato at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Macchiato $3.50

The macchiato comes in a double-walled espresso glass with measurements on the side. They do every kind of filter coffee here too, including pour overs, syphon, Aeropress and cold drip.

V60 pour over vessels at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
V60 pour over vessels

There are tables littered throughout the cafe, but if you pull up a stool at the counter, you get to enjoy a free pour over show as you sip your coffee.

Making V60 pour over coffee at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Stirring the wet coffee grounds 

Making V60 pour over coffee at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
Adding the final stage of water

If you want a little Proud Mary to take home, they have an impressive selection of beans too, sorted into blends, espresso or filter. Many of them will have have been freshly roasted in the last couple of days.

Macchiato at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne

Dukes Coffee Roasters

Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne

You could easily walk past Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, based at the bottom of Ross House.

La Marzocco espresso machine at Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne
La Marzocco espresso machine

The narrow cafe has limited seating but there's still a sense of space in here. Reclaimed timber runs the length of the coffee counter with recycled tiles used on the floor. A La Marzocco espresso machine sits bright and shiny on the counter.

Short black at Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Short black 

Dukes roast their own coffee, buying from individual farms or small cooperatives. Their roastery is based in Collingwood, with beans available in either espresso or filter roasts.

Coffee bar counter at Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Coffee bar counter

The League of Honest Coffee

The League of Honest Coffee by Padre, Melbourne

I'd like to imagine The League of Honest Coffee is really the cover for a group of caffeine-fuelled superheroes but given the number of customers that flock here each morning, maybe that's not too far from the truth anyway.

Padre Coffee beans at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Filter coffee beans by Padre Coffee

The League of Honest Coffee is one of four cafes run by Padre Coffee, a roastery that originally started as the Brunswick East Project. They still roast all their coffee beans in Brunswick with a lighter roast available for filter coffees.

Clover coffee machine at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Clover coffee machine

They're been quietly collecting Clover machines too, an automated digitally programmable drip coffee machine that brews coffee one cup at a time. It means that variables can be adjusted with scientific precision and leads to consistency once the ideal parameters have been set.

Extracting coffee from the Clover at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Extracting coffee from the Clover

There are only 11 Clovers in Australia and Padre now has seven of them. Supply has diminished ever since Starbucks bought the company in 2008 with exclusive rights to all subsequent production and programming software.

Ethiopian Clover coffee at The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne
Ethiopian Clover coffee served in an American-style diner mug

Inside The League of Honest Coffee, Melbourne

St Ali 

St Ali in South Melbourne

On the other side of the Yarra is St Ali, hidden in a massive warehouse among the back streets of South Melbourne. Started up in 2005 by Mark Dundon in 2005, the business was sold to Salvatore Malatesta in 2008. A second cafe, St Ali North, opened in North Carlton in 2012.

Entrance to St Ali in South Melbourne
Entrance to St Ali in South Melbourne

Seating inside St Ali in South Melbourne
Seating inside St Ali

The cafe is huge, with a series of nooks and crannies holding an eclectic mix of chairs and tables.

Coffee shot brewed on the espresso machine at St Ali in South Melbourne
Coffee shot $6

The dine-in coffee menu branches out into an extended remix of caffeine hits. It includes tracks like the St Ali tasting plate of brews ($18), Espresso 3 ways ($11) and the iced coffee shot ($6.50) which adds ice to a double strength shot of coffee.

The coffee shot is worth a look too, a filter brew that has the body and flavour of a pour over but ingeniously brewed on an espresso machine.

The Elvis Jelly-Jam on Dr Marty's crumpets at St Ali in South Melbourne
The Elvis Jelly-Jam $16
Dr Marty's crumpet stack with whipped peanut butter, jelly and chocolate

There's a whimsical sense of humour in the food menu as well. Confit duck salad becomes A Box of Quackers ($19), slow roasted Middle Eastern spiced lamb shoulder is rebadged as My Mutton-in-Law ($19) and Fat Tuesday marries Pepe Saya buttermilk pancakes with lemon curd creme fraiche.

The Elvis Jelly-Jam on Dr Marty's crumpets at St Ali in South Melbourne

But how could you go past the Elvis Jelly-Jam? It's a pair of handmade Dr Marty crumpets garnished with dollops of raspberry jelly, chocolate sauce drizzles and puddles of whipped peanut butter. Coffee and crumpets never tasted so good.

Dukes Coffee Roasters
247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
No telephone
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 4.30pm and Saturday 9am - 5pm
Also open at Windsor, Docklands and Collingwood
Dukes Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon

Hardware Societe
120 Hardware Street, Melboure
Tel: +61 (03) 9078 5992
Open Monday to Friday 7.30am - 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am - 2.30pm
The Hardware Société on Urbanspoon

Market Lane Coffee
176 Faraday Street, Carlton, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9804 7434
Open Monday to Saturday 7am - 4pm and Sunday 8am - 4pm
Also open at Prahran Market, Queen Vic Market and Therry Street
Market Lane Coffee Pop-Up Store on Urbanspoon

Patricia Coffee Brewers
495-495 Little Bourke Street (corner Little Bourke and Little William Street), Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9642 2237
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 4pm
Patricia Coffee Brewers on Urbanspoon

Proud Mary 
172 Oxford Street, Collingwood, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9417 5930
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 4pm and Saturday to Sunday 8am - 4pm
Proud Mary on Urbanspoon

St Ali
12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9686 2990
Open daily 7am - 6pm
Also open at Carlton North
St Ali on Urbanspoon

The League of Honest Coffee by Padre Coffee
8 Exploration Lane, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9654 0169
Open Monday to Friday 7am - 5pm and Saturday 8am - 3pm
Also open at Brunswick East, South Melbourne Market and Queen Victoria Market
The League of Honest Coffee on Urbanspoon

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Melbourne - Lee Ho Food, Collingwood
Melbourne - Rockwell and Sons, Collingwood
Melbourne - The Town Mouse, Carlton

23 comments - Add some comment love

Bookmark and Share
posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/17/2014 01:23:00 am

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Recipe: Pink ombre cake with lychee jasmine cream

Lychee jasmine pink ombre cake

Ombre cake. This cake took me seven hours to make but the look on my friends' faces was easily worth the effort. Everybody loves cake but everyone loves a decorated cake even more.

Our Stomachs Eleven dinner party group recently held a surprise baby shower for J-girl and I'd volunteered to bring dessert. Sure I could have brought along a dozen cupcakes or a plate of cookies, but if ever there was a time to indulge in a pink buttercream frenzy, this was it.

But first, there was lunch. We had steamboat, or hot pot at M&L's place, a DIY affair of vegetables, meats and seafood cooked in pots of soup at the table. This is one of the easiest meals you can have with friends, and fighting with everyone else for the last fish ball is half the fun.

Steamboat hot pot soup with tofu puffs, pork crackling and chilli
Twin-walled steamboat pot - chilli on one side, no chilli on the other

Fish balls with fish roe at steamboat hot pot
Fish balls filled with fish roe 

If you haven't had these fish balls before, you must rectify this immediately. Bite into these spongy tear drops and you'll get an explosion of salty and sweet fish roe that bursts in the mouth. You can get these from the frozen section in large Asian groceries.

Dipping meat and scooping soup during steamboat hot pot
Cook your own as you go

Dried tofu puffs and pork crackling for steamboat hot pot
Tofu puffs and dried pork crackling

The dried pork crackling rehydrates into a soggy water-logged sponge but the taste of crackling (or crispy pork fat) is unmistakeable. It's strangely addictive.

Shiitake, shimeji and bailing mushrooms for steamboat hot pot
Shiitake, shimeji and bailing mushrooms

Vermicelli noodles, udon noodles and bean curd sheets for steamboat hotpot
Vermicelli noodles, udon noodles and dried bean curd sheets

The unspoken rule of steamboat is that noodles should go in towards the end as the starch will affect the taste of your soup.

Dumplings and fish balls for steamboat hotpot
Dumplings and fish balls

Everybody's fishing

And then it was time for dessert!

This was my first time making an ombre cake, including the petal buttercream icing technique used across the top. It's not perfect but I was just glad it didn't turn out to be a total disaster!

Recipe: Lychee jasmine pink ombre cake

Lychee jasmine pink ombre cake

I flavoured my cake with lychee and jasmine but you could easily modify this to flavourings of your own choosing. I used Steph's ombre cake recipe and Billy's ombre icing with my own adjustments as detailed below.


355g plain flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
200ml milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
225 unsalted butter, softened
400g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
Pink food colouring (you can also use red)

500ml thickened cream
425g tin of lychees, drained
jasmine essence to taste

600g icing sugar, sifted
300g salted butter
2.5 Tablespoons milk
Pink food colour (you can also use red)

Specific tools and utensils
20cm baking tins
Electronic scales
Separate piping bags for each icing colour


Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line 4 x 20cm round cake tins (if you have less, you will simply need to wash and dry however many tins you have between each use).

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, mix well and set aside. In a separate jug or mug, mix together the milk and vanilla extract.

Cream the butter and caster sugar using an electric mixer, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high. The mix should be soft and creamy with no graininess between the fingers. This should take at least four minutes and up to ten.

Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, beating each one well before the next addition. Add in 1/4 of the flour mixture and mix in at medium speed. Add in 1/3 of the milk mixture and mix in at medium speed. Continue adding the flour and milk at these ratios, ending with the final 1/4 of flour.

Divide mixture between four bowls, using electronic scales for accuracy. Leave one portion of batter plain. Add increasing amounts of pink food colouring to the others until you get the gradient of shading you prefer.

Transfer the batter to the lined cake tins and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool.

Making the lychee jasmine cream

Trim as much membrane from the lychee fruits as you can, but do not throw away. Place the cleaned lychee pieces in a bowl to one side. Place the membrane-lined flesh into a blender and blitz until pulverised.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form, adding in several drops of jasmine essence to taste. You want it reasonably strong in flavour as you want to be able to taste it when it's sandwiched between the layers of cake. Fold in the blitzed lychees. Keep the lychee cream in the fridge until you're ready the assemble the cake.

(Note: you can skip the trimming and blending part if it's too much hassle, but I find the membrane does have an unpleasant texture if you simply fold the untrimmed lychees into the cream).

Petal buttercream icing on the lychee jasmine pink ombre cake

Making the icing

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add a small amount of icing sugar and whip on low speed until incorporated. Use a mixing bowl cover if you have one, to prevent the icing sugar flying everywhere. Continue adding the icing sugar in small amounts until it has all been incorporated. Add the milk. Beat the icing for longer than you think is required. The longer you beat it, the whiter it will become.

Divide the icing into bowls according to the number of shades you prefer. If you are going to dirty ice your cake (adding a thin layer of icing between the cake and the final icing on top), then make sure you set this aside. I had five colours so divided my icing into 1/3 white, then 1/6 for each shade of pink. Add increasing amounts of pink food colouring to each bowl until you're happy with the gradient of shading.

Assembling the cake

Trim the tops of the cakes if necessary, otherwise work out which way you are going to lay down each cake layer so they lay as flat as possible. Place the darkest shade of cake on the bottom and slather generously with your cream mixture. Dot with the fresh trimmed lychee pieces. Continue stacking the cake with cream and lychee until complete.

Use a spatular to dirty ice the top and sides of the cake with un-tinted icing. This will create an even surface for your final icing (especially between the layers of cake) and will stop loose cake crumbs spoiling your icing. It will also stop the yellow cake showing through if you have any gaps in your piped icing. You only need a thin layer of dirty icing and it doesn't have to be perfect. Noone will see it.

Transfer each shade of icing into a separate piping bag. Warning: I tried using ziplock bags but they kept bursting on me. Then I remembered I did have a stash of disposable icing bags. Doh! Skip the heartache and transfer them straight into proper piping bags - either disposable or cloth.

Start from the sides and pipe one dollop of icing. Find the smallest teaspoon you have, and use this to depress the centre of the dollop and then drag until you get what looks like a tongue or smear. Wipe the spoon clean with a tissue so you don't taint your next colour. Pipe the next colour along your vertical line and smear it with your spoon. I started at the top and went downwards, but in hindsight, maybe I should have gone bottom-up (you can see I ran out of room at the bottom, even though I tried marking out my horizontal rows).

When you are ready for your next row, pipe over the existing tongue/smear at the position where you want your next petal to start. It helps to practise on a piece of baking first so you can work out the petal length you prefer. I also watched lots of YouTube videos beforehand to see how other people did it. The top of the cake is particularly tricky as you have to make sure you're piping in even circles. Stop and stand back every now and then to check your concentric evenness.

Add bunting flags on top (thanks Silvrlily!) if you like. I found they did help to create height for the cake, and a great sense of occasion. You can do all kinds of petal icing variations, including vertically aligned petals, or diagonally alternating shades of colours. Do an image search of "ombre petal icing" and choose your favourite :)

Pink ombre cake layers inside the lychee jasmine cake

But enough talk. Give me the cake! Everyone was dying to see what it looked like inside and there was a room full of oohs and aahs when the first slice was cut. After making a cake like that, I reckon you deserve at least three slices to yourself. I know I did. I should have had more :)

23 comments - Add some comment love

Bookmark and Share
posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/13/2014 07:54:00 pm

      << Read Older Posts       |       >> Read Newer Posts