Aside from the AFL, the bustling nightlife and riotous street art, Melbourne is primarily known for its incredible coffee scene.
And what better way to experience this love for coffee than by visiting the cafes that do it serious justice. Not just the ones pouring great brews, but those that offer a range of delicious food, ambience, atmosphere and impeccable design to have you feeling welcomed and relaxed from the moment you walk in.
But, which ones should you really be visiting, especially if you only have a weekend to spend in the city?
From CBD hidden gems to speciality coffee roasters, here are some of the best cafes in Melbourne with brews that pack a flavoursome punch and unexpected, seasonal menus that are bound to keep you on your toes.
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169 Chapel St, Windsor VIC 3181
Originally known as Duke’s Coffee Roasters, this iconic Chapel Street venue located on the Windsor end is precisely what you need to kickstart your weekend. Journeyman is set inside a sophisticated warehouse with timber panelling and interiors designed by renowned Melbourne architect Chris Connell, creating an incredibly chic and industrial aesthetic.
Journeyman is an absolute must for those in the southside area. From their chilli scrambled eggs, eggs benedict with crispy pork belly to their delicious coffee, it’s the perfect place if you’re looking for a cafe with a little extra flair.
22 Ovens St, Brunswick VIC 3056
If you’re looking for a place that makes some of the best coffee north of the river, look no further than Ona Coffee. This trendy Brunswick establishment is often considered Melbourne’s coffee mecca and was founded in 2008 by world Barista Champion Saša Šestic. With restaurants all around Australia and now Melbourne, Ona Coffee is committed to making your coffee-drinking experience a memorable one while championing those who grow it.
While you’re here, check out their range of speciality blends, brewing options, exotic coffees and an extensive ‘reserve menu’ of frozen coffee beans.
Jerry’s Milk Bar
345 Barkly St, Elwood VIC 3184
This Elwood cafe pays homage to the old school milk bars, perfect for capturing a little nostalgia in your brunch date. Despite Jerry’s Milk Bar closing during Melbourne’s second lockdown, it quickly bounced back when Nick Forge and Oliver Gualano (owners of backstreet Kupid Espresso in Kew) and their friend Jordy Catalano revamped the space.
Now, this two-storey corner Edwardian venue is back in a big way serving some of the most delicious breakfast and lunch menus. If you’re after something hearty, make sure to try their corn and coriander fritters; otherwise, their french toast always hits the spot.
7 Peel St, Collingwood VIC 3066
Along with Ona Coffee, Plug Nickel is another exquisite cafe known for its speciality coffee. Situated in Collingwood, this trendy little space prides itself as one of the best in the industry, as it uses Sanremo Opera – an espresso machine Saša Šestic and several other World Champion baristas helped design, to brew their superb coffee.
They also serve Cascara, a tea made from coffee cherries and cold nitrogen brew, both available on tap. However, aside from this being one of the best places to grab your early morning coffee, Plug Nickel also has an assortment of delicious exotic toasties on offer, from a spicy tuna melt to a vegan mushroom toastie, the choice is yours!
50 Rose St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Lune’s sibling cafe Moon Cruller landed in Fitzroy in early 2021, serving up the most incredible pastries Melbourne has ever seen. The founder of Moon Cruller, Kate Reid, first fell in love with cruller pastries when she visited New York back in 2016 and, upon returning to Melbourne decided to recreate this deep-fried doughnut-like treat. Once she had perfected the recipe, she opened her store right outside Lune’s head office, becoming a hit almost instantly.
At Moon Cruller, they have six flavours – cinnamon sugar, vanilla, chocolate, passionfruit, raspberry and a special wild card cruller change weekly.
650 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Situated in a heritage-listed powerhouse along Little Bourke Street is one of the Melbourne CBD’s biggest institutions, Higher Ground. Inspired by boutique hotel lobbies, from the minute you step foot into this space, you’ll be enamoured by the beautiful high ceilings drawing in natural lighting, exposed brick walls and intimate tiered platforms.
This breakfast, lunch and dinner spot is the perfect choice if you’re looking for something a little more experimental than your usual eggs benedict, as their breakfast menu includes whipped trout on sourdough, ricotta hotcakes, and spiced cauliflower scrambled eggs, just to name a few. Make a booking before walking in, as this place is always busy.
The Kettle Black
50 Albert Rd, South Melbourne VIC 3205
Aside from owning Higher Ground, The Darling Group also founded one of the more sophisticated refined Melbourne cafes known as The Kettle Black. Housed in an old Victorian building along Albert Road, The Kettle Black is one of South Melbourne’s best places to kick back and enjoy a coffee.
Its tranquil atmosphere is complemented by the fusion of old and new styles, complete with soft green chairs and marble tabletops.
Their seasonal all-day breakfast menu showcase’s some of the best local produce and changes monthly too.
214 Union Rd, Ascot Vale VIC 3032
Though No. 19 may be relatively new, it’s already made its mark on Melbourne’s cafe scene. Founded by the husband and wife team of Domenic and Diana Caruso – the dynamic pair behind the much-beloved Essendon outpost, St Rose – No. 19 simply has to make your list of places to try.
No. 19 has an extensive menu curated to satisfy every palette. If you’re in the mood for something a little clean, try their acai bowl made with seasonal circus fruits. Otherwise, their soft shell crab burger is incredible if you’re after something a bit more hearty.
Stan’s Deli and Sandwiches
248b Glenferrie Rd, Malvern VIC 3144
Inspired by New York’s old school delis, this Malvern sandwich shop is the ultimate place to grab a humble sandwich and is the brainchild of Guy Bentley (Leonardo’s Pizza Palace, Leonard’s House of Love), Todd Vanneste, Alex Gavioli (former manager of Moby) and Aaron Trotman.
The concept first came to Gavoli and Trotman, as they were looking for a simple yet incredible cafe that was modest in its approach, and we reckon they’ve certainly hit the nail on the head with Stan’s. The deli has cultivated a sense of community in Malvern while supplying some of Melbourne’s best-loaded sandwiches, an absolute must-try for this year.
658 Church St, Richmond VIC 3121
Top Paddock has been at the cornerstone of Melbourne’s cafe scene ever since its launch in 2012. Situated on Church Street, surrounded by rich dark timber and detailed windows, this Richmond institution has a delicious breakfast menu that changes with the season. Here, they serve all the classics, including poached eggs, chilli scrambled eggs, and oats. However, if you’re after something a little sweeter, try their blueberry and ricotta hotcakes.
On weekends, this multi-award-winning joint usually has a line that extends across the street, so we seriously suggest booking well in advance.
Le Bajo Milkbar
8-14 Howard St, North Melbourne VIC 3051
Jason Gunawan, the restauranter behind Bali’s famous Potato Head Beach Club, was due to start working on his next project in 2020. However, when the pandemic hit and forced him to stay in Melbourne, he turned a spacious industrial North Melbourne venue into a retro Japanese eatery.
Named after a fishing island in Indonesia, Le Bajo’s menu is curated by renowned chef and 279 owner Kantaro Okada, who seamlessly and uniquely combines Australian and Japanese cuisine. Whether you’re after their Chicken Katsu Sandos or one of their dirty fries with miso mayo, Le Bajo is a fine example of how to do food fusion right.
2 Darling St, South Yarra VIC 3141
This South Yarra establishment is conveniently located around the corner from the station and sits at the top of Darling Street. Elegant yet simple, Darling Cafe does classic well, as they serve all the staple breakfast and brunch options, but with a slight twist.
The menu has surprises at every turn, from their crushed avocado with salsa to their sticky date pancakes; there are a whole heap of unique dishes to choose from, accompanied by a wide selection of coffee, pastries, sweet treats and juices. You’ll also find a generous selection of nourishing smoothies, just in case you’re looking for something to grab on the go.
Pillar of Salt
541 Church St, Richmond VIC 3121
Further along Church Street, past Top Paddock, you’ll find Pillar of Salt. Known for their speciality coffee and impressive all-day breakfast menu, it’s easy to see why this Richmond gem is a Melbourne food hotspot. Pillar of Salt owner Kostas Zervoudak bought this space from Kael, Matthew and Elias Sahely back in 2014 and expanded the menu offering traditional Australian plates prepared by skilled chefs that will have you leaving and wanting more.
They also have a beautiful courtyard filled with upcycled colander light fittings and plywood tables, making it one of the best places to unwind on a Sunday Morning.
36 Derby St, Pascoe Vale VIC 3044
This is hands down one of the best places to snatch up your morning bagel and smear. This reborn butcher shop has transformed into a 20-seat corner cafe, with husband and wife team Claudia and Anthony Carnovale completely reinventing the space. Bagels Baby quickly developed a reputation for creating the best bagels in the city, and managed to sling more than 300 before lunchtime every day in the first week of launching.
Bagels Baby offers up to nine different bagel options, including a miso mushroom with vegetable slaw and a salmon lox bagel. When you dine in, you’ll also get a side of pickles and crisps with your meal.
70-76 Westgarth St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
In 2013, Industry Beans opened, offering Fitzroy an all-under-one-roof coffee roastery and brew bar, instantly winning over coffee lovers and brunch go-ers. This cafe prides itself on having some of the best speciality coffee and is home to the bubble cup, a cold brew coffee with coffee-soaked tapioca pearls.
However, aside from serving quality coffee, Industry Bean has an unpretentious, simple and delicious menu that offers seasonal fruits and vegetables, local meats, edible flowers and freshly baked bread. All of these ingredients make Industry Beans the ultimate Fitzroy brunch hotspot.