A plug nickel is a five cent coin where the "plug", or centre disk, has been removed to decrease its value. The guys from Dr Morse may have named their new hole-in-the-wall café after one of them because, well, it's not much more than a hole punched into the wall — but while Plug Nickel is definitely small, it's by no means short of value.
Located just off Smith Street a few doors up from Lazerpig, Plug Nickel only has ten seats. The reasoning behind this bare bones layout is that this pocket of Collingwood already has Proud Mary and Major Major; it didn't need another sit-down speciality coffee café. Plug Nickel instead focuses on takeaway food and coffee — and you don't need many seats for that.
So how do they produce edibles in a space so small? Well, food is prepared at Dr Morse on Johnston Street every morning and brought over to the Peel Street space. It's then placed, on request, into their high-tech Turbo Chef oven, which heats up food in three minutes and takes it from cold, to hot, to crispy.
"Our whole thing is to have food and coffee out the door within three minutes," says Lucien Kolff, one of Plug Nickel's owners. "It fits with our whole ethos of getting things out as fast and efficiently as possible. But it's not like we're just chucking it in the microwave. It's good food."
A small takeaway menu features breakfast roti, pork sandwiches, sausage rolls, pies, noodle salads and soup. They also have two cold coffee taps installed on the back bar. One pours Nitro Black, a single origin espresso infused with nitrogen that tastes like a creamy, fizzy cold coffee. The other serves Sparkling Cascara, which sees dried berries from the coffee plant brewed like tea for 48 hours. It tastes like iced tea, but is still highly caffeinated.
There might not be a kitchen at Plug Nickel, but there is a hairdresser and a bike shop. After acquiring the heritage space, the owners decided it would be too disjointed to have seating in the other rooms. So they rented it out to their hairdresser friend Ginger Light, who has opened her one-seat salon Ginger Hair. Bike shop Northside Wheelers plan to be open and running in the next room soon.