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By Concrete Playground
June 06, 2018

Melbourne's Best New Cafes of 2018

These cafes serve up more than just top-notch coffee.
By Concrete Playground
June 06, 2018


These cafes serve up more than just top-notch coffee.

Cafes are no longer just serving great coffee. They're serving great locally roasted coffee in many forms (from cold drip to batch and single origin espresso), great fare that caters to all dietaries, they boast interesting decors and are passionate about sustainability and the ethical sourcing of ingredients.

And our favourite cafes of the year (so far) do an impressive job at covering it all. From vegan shakes and student discounts, to all-day eateries and a cafe serving up some of the best croissants in the city, these five cafes are doing it all.

With so many openings hitting the city in a five-month period, we whittled it down to our favourite newcomers raising the bar for Melbourne's caffeine scene. Well, our favourites so far — there are still another six months to go.

  • 5

    The old stereotype that cops love doughnuts and coffee has been happily embraced at Hawthorn’s new espresso bar Cop Shop. The hole-in-the-wall cafe, located at the entrance to the buzzing Glenferrie Station, is offering free coffee for the men and women in blue. But, it’s catering to the rest of us common folk, too, with its locally roasted coffee and sugary lineup of shakes and sweets.

    The cafe offers Melbourne-roasted Niccolo coffee and an extensive range of vegan shakes and frappes. The vegan shakes ($8) are made using a coconut ice cream base, with an option of either almond or soy milk, and include flavours such as jersey caramel, Oreo, and chocolate mint.  If the drinks menu doesn’t entice you, check out the fresh batch of sugary doughnuts ($4 each) delivered daily by Patisserie by Raf.

    University, the cafe has cleverly decided to offer discounts for students, who only have to pay $3 for a regular coffee (compared to the normal price $3.50). So before a long day of work or uni, start your day with a fresh cup of joe and a sweet treat — and after, head in for a well-deserved whisky-spiked Irish coffee.

  • 4

    On the corner of Tucker and Patterson Roads in Bentleigh there used to be a rundown convenience store. But, in March, it was gutted and transformed into a pink and breezy cafe dubbed Good Times Milk Bar. While the old-school exterior has been left intact, the interior has been refreshed — it has a contemporary and cosy feel with pastel hues of pink and blue, graphic art designed by local creative studio Hours After and lots of leafy plants.

    Breakfast is served all day, and lunch from 11am, and there are daily rotating sandwiches, bite-sized sweets and diner-style shakes. We suggest starting with the cafe’s take on eggs benny, the Pastrami Benedict ($18), which is served with potato waffle and and dill pickle or try the Moroccan eggplant ($19) served with harissa spiced lamb.

    If you’re feeling sweet, however, look to the ricotta hotcakes and and pair them with one of the cafe’s signature shakes — Golden Gaytime, Lamington or Peanut Butter & Chocolate ($8). And no cafe worth its weight functions without a solid coffee program. Here, the beans are from North Melbourne roaster Small Batch and the coffee comes milky or as one of three different filters (including bottomless batch for $5).

    Image: Simon Shiff

  • 3

    The Richmond-based baking duo behind Penny for Pound, Matilda Smith and Ben Wilson, are masters at turning basic household ingredients — flour, butter, sugar — into something special.

    Their goodies, including croissants, tarts, cookies and cruffins, have been popping up in cafes all over Melbourne for a while now. And they don’t hold back on experimental doughnut flavours either. Allowing seasonal produce to guide creativity has resulted in flavour combos including yuzu meringue, rhubarb and ginger and passionfruit cheesecake.

    And it is this combo, which recently won Best Donut at the 2018 Donut Fest, that firmly secured Penny for Pound’s place in our hearts: fig, honeycomb and orange creme brûlée. Fresh off the win, the team opened a retail frontage behind cafe Mayday Coffee and Food in April, 2018. Enter via Lord Street into a space that cleverly uses light marble and timber surfaces, penny marble tiles and large mirrors to mask the relatively minimal square footage.

    Image: Kate Shanasy

  • 2

    Riddik is a pretty spot-on moniker for the gutsy new all-day eatery that’s landed itself in Templestowe. Largely because the menu is downright huge — you’re going to want to leave your indecisiveness at home for this one. The lofty former bank is decked out with statement street art and lots of leafy green touches against a black-and-white colour palette. It’s a hard task to master, but it’s the kind of space that holds up well from early morning Code Black coffees to those after-dinner cocktails.

    By day, you’re faced with a sprawling mix of cafe classics and clever adaptations, with breakfast running until 3pm and lunch on offer from noon. A winner at either meal is the slow-cooked lamb, piled atop thick-cut sourdough and teamed with grilled asparagus and mint-laced hollandaise ($18) — just one of six different varieties of eggs benedict flying from the Riddik kitchen.

    Also in excellent supply here are burgers. The five-strong lineup stars buttermilk-poached fried chicken, coffee-rubbed beef and everything in between. The fish version ($22) ticks all the right boxes, stuffed with a crunchy panko-crumbed fillet, cut through with a pea smash and served with a side of chips you’ll only want more of.

    Image: Phoebe Powell

  • 1

    Fitzroy cafe Bentwood proves a fitting homage to the Thonet furniture showroom that previously occupied its Napier Street home, not only named for the brand’s iconic chairs, but boasting a dining room filled with them. They’re set beautifully against a warm, rust-hued fitout, where soaring ceilings, concrete pillars and walls of exposed brick give another nod to the building’s industrial heritage.

    Here, Julien Moussi (Elsternwick’s Penta and Northcote’s Tinker) is delivering another stand-out cafe, where attention to detail extends well beyond the decor, into the coffee cup and onto the plate. The caffeine offering comes courtesy of Moussi’s own Inglewood Coffee Roasters, with a tidy range of specialty options to satisfy the coffee connoisseurs of Fitzroy.

    Food here packs as much of a punch aesthetically as it does for the tastebuds, across a generous menu of brunch and lunch creations. You’ll spy elevated classic like meringue-loaded hotcakes and an eggs benny with braised beef cheek, sitting alongside contemporary hits like a poke-style assembly that comes atop slices of dark rye. There’s a big emphasis on seasonal produce and a clear love of vibrant veggies — team that with the designer backdrop and you’ve got one seriously Instagrammable experience.

    Image: Kate Shanasy


Top image: Kate Shanasy


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