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The Foreigner

There’s a cheeky foreigner hiding in Melbourne’s northeast.
By Ellen Seah
October 14, 2015
By Ellen Seah
October 14, 2015

The Foreigner only opened its doors last year, but Sam Elmazi already has plenty of plans.

"We've bought the store next door, so we're hoping to have the expanded cafe ready before Christmas," Elmazi says. "We're also thinking of extending our opening hours on Friday and Saturday nights."

Even though he is the sole owner of The Foreigner, Elmazi has a tendency to talk about the cafe's future plans as a collaborative, team effort. And it's easy to understand why. His waitstaff are obviously a big part of the business; cheeky, genuine and attentive, they manage to keep business humming even during Ivanhoe's quietest suburban hours.

Despite the name, The Foreigner isn't a reference to migration or multiculturalism. Keen to get Ivanhoe and quality coffee a little more acquainted — and give the area somewhere 'personable' to visit — Elmazi says the cafe's namesake is inspired by all the foreign coffee beans he plans to introduce.

When pressed about the choice of suburb, Elmazi admits Ivanhoe wasn't always in the cards. It was a chance visit to the area that sparked his interest. "I was actually picking something up from eBay," he says. "Ivanhoe is such an interesting area. There's lots of food and coffee but there's no strong cafe scene."

Inside, white chairs, inset shelves and a feature mirror make up the French provisional-feel of the cafe. European-styled antiques and old-fashioned pots are endearingly charming, a rarity outside of Melbourne's central hubs.

Breakfast is straightforward. The locals don't seem to mind following the path well travelled and The Foreigner's brunch staples are homely and fresh, if a tad unimaginative. Jars filled with homemade sweets and in-demand muffins are displayed in a glass cabinet. Elmazi plans to change the menu seasonally.

A world map covers the length of The Foreigner's undecorated wall, featuring the single origin of the week, permanent house blends and information on flavour profiles. The house blend is from Code Black, and single origins are from Industry Beans.

While the coffee may be a little foreign, there are few locales in the northeast as inviting as The Foreigner.

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