Degraves Street embodies the cafe culture of Melbourne. You’ll find Australians engaged in lively conversation at the closely packed outdoor tables all day, any time of the week. On the weekends people young and old will take a leisurely meal and coffee while communing with friends.
Melbourne cafe culture dates back to a couple notable influxes of Italian immigration, in the 1930s and post World War II. The Italians brought entire expresso machines with them aboard their ships and introduced espresso bars to the Melbourne area. The first of these was Cafe Florentino. Melbournians became obsessed with coffee and craved something fresher than the infrequent shipments of Italian espresso, which often sat for sixth months or more before consumption. Near the turn of the 20th Century focus began to shift to sourcing beans from developing areas near Australia. Now artisan coffee roasters line the laneways of Melbourne!
Perhaps the most obvious first stop on our coffee tour is Degraves Espresso, named for the famous street on which it sits.
Degraves serves a variety of unique espresso drinks as well as a full, ever-changing food menu. When you’ve finished your morning coffee and brunch, you can enjoy the wide selection of wines, beers and ciders. The food menu is specific to the time of year, when we visited we saw a delicious-looking roasted pumpkin seed soup removed from the menu in favor of more Summer-y items. Each of these cafes offers indoor and outdoor seating as well as a take-away window for those on the go. We watched as early risers grabbed a rich coffee and a flaky croissant to go. We visited later in the day and witnessed a very different scene. People packed into the rows of outdoor tables and filled cosy the interior as well. Laughter and excited voices filled the air in spite of the chilly, dreary Sunday afternoon.
Next up, Cafe Andiamo, serving unique spiced lattes and french-style baguette sandwiches at their take-away window.
I devoured a toasted baguette club sandwich and a delicious dirty Turmeric latte in the early hours of the morning before many people were out and about. I enjoyed the solitude and watched the baristas fire up their machines and prepare the shop for the busy day ahead. From the avocado toast to the beautiful deep brown leather aprons worn by the staff, this entire place exudes hip and modern.
The Quarter is another great example of trendy Melbourne. Delicate Christmas decorations outline the soft glow emanating from within the cafe. The strong aroma of freshly brewed coffee draws you in to the inviting setting where you can enjoy satisfying Mediterranean cuisine. They also offer espresso drinks made with Bonsoy, a healthy, creamy milk alternative that serves as an excellent source for vegetable protein.
Our last spot is more of an honorable mention as it is not actually located on Degraves Street, but sits just around the corner on Flinders St. Dukes Coffee Roasters offers beautifully roasted, ethically sourced coffee as well as any device you may need for brewing the perfect cup of coffee at home. The knowledgeable staff helps you pick the perfect cup of coffee for your individual taste. The stylish interior gives one a sense of the quality craft coffee housed within. These guys are Australian roasters whose sole focus is the craft of carefully roasting the best coffees in the world using innovative and methodic roasting practices.
Reminiscent of San Francisco coffee shops, Duke Coffee Roasters is sure to provide you with a perfect cup of coffee. Whether you prefer single origin, espresso or a blended coffee experience, a bag of their artisan roasted beans makes a great gift to bring back from Australia or to enjoy in your own home for a taste of your journey.