For all intents and purposes of title, Collective Espresso has built quite a reputation within a loyal and diverse group of locals. The perfect location near Camberwell station means commuters are satiated, families or smaller groups are welcomed by the extremely obliging staff, and, with a sleek interior, it regularly manages to attract a hip, younger crowd. With this in mind, Collective Espresso is a pleasant slice of the suburban ecosystem.
An unassuming presence is exactly what has Collective Espresso alive and thriving. With a penchant to attract minimal attention to itself, every piece of the cafe experience has been left to do the talking. The narrow space is well-utilised, with the white decor carefully accented by regularly changing artwork on the walls and a thoughtful selection of reading material on offer. An expansive communal table that runs down the centre of the space bustles during peak periods, and, instead of potentially proving a beacon for a dissatisfying visit, actually makes things all the more jovial. Mixed all together, it's a quietly coherent and confident experience.
Service is extremely friendly, comfortable and practiced. Such reliability is accommodating of the seasonal menu changes, which vary from the expected to the thoroughly surprising. A mixture of verbose descriptions and interesting ingredient combinations are assured to make you think for a second or even furrow your brow, but with adventure comes lovely results that will not disappoint.
Despite endless revisions the menu stalwart remains the 'collective sigh of relief', a compilation of scrambled or poached eggs, spinach, mushrooms, tomato chutney, bacon and toast ($23). Locals also continuously dive into the avocado and feta mash ($12) that is simplicity at its best. For the best morning-after cure, the fried chicken, cos and chipotle mayo brioche roll ($12) cannot be overlooked. Wash this down with a BAM: for the uninitiated, that’s a blueberry, apple and mint slushy ($5). Don't miss it.
Collective Espresso really is a bit of a local secret. It's assured to satiate any craving without needing to travel far, and that's even if you do need to come via train. Reliability in a cafe experience all too often equals boring, but this is far from it.