While Flinders Street, Federation Square and the trams are all tourist favourites in Melbourne, a visit is never complete without experiencing its world-class coffee.
Here’s a guide to where to escape the tourist crowds and have coffee with locals who know where to find the best coffee in town.
67–69 Collins Place (Corner of Exhibition St & Flinders Ln), Melbourne
Simple, seasonal food with a real focus on sustainable and local produce makes Laneway Greens a great choice for dining in or takeaway. Lunchtimes can get hectic and the seating options are limited so either order ahead, or arrive for an early lunch.
Laneway Greens cooks from the heart
The market bowl (choice of vegies is seasonal), falafels, assorted gourmet salads and delectable smoothies all vie for your attention. There’s also outlets in Flinders Lane and Swan Street, Richmond (an easy tram/train trip from the city).
4/209 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tucked under the beautiful arches of Melbourne’s St Paul’s Cathedral, you’ll find the heavenly (pun intended) Buddha bowls, cakes, coffee and salted caramel lamingtons that make going to church a mouth-watering prospect. Keep in mind the cafe is only open weekdays.
70 Mitchell Street, Northcote
In an otherwise residential street, this milk bar-cum-cafe is beloved of locals but you wouldn’t be likely to find it purely through passing by.
The space is committed to local, traceable and sustainable produce
Make the time to journey from the popular dining and shopping strip of Northcote’s High Street to Red Door for strong, consistently good coffee.
House-made organic wholemeal crumpets; quinoa and millet salad with crispy chickpeas; and dukkah eggs are all on the regular menu.
93 Moor Street, Fitzroy
Off the tourist-friendly Brunswick Street, you’ll find Cafe Louis between a design shop and an apartment building. Not even a year old, this newcomer is sleek with minimal fuss and all the daily newspapers, for those who like to indulge in all the finances, arts, politics and business over coffee.
Try the superfood salad or smashed avocado to really embrace the healthy, hipster feel of Fitzroy.
222 Clarendon Street, East Melbourne
Omelettes, smashed avo on toast, organic ginger beer, or maybe the southern fried chicken burger are all good reasons to wander down Clarendon Street in leafy, lovely East Melbourne.
Square and Compass makes modern brunch fare & specialty coffee
Square & Compass is run by a well-practised team of hospitality professionals. It shows in the savvy, friendly service and varied, but consistently delicious menu. Coffee is a highlight – and the locals know it.
Local workers pile in before work and at lunchtimes but apart from that, you’ll find a table and plenty of newspapers at most times of day. Parking can be a challenge, but there’s ticketed and free one- and two-hour parks in the surrounding streets. If you can tram it, it’s a short trip from the city or work up an appetite by walking from Spring Street through Fitzroy Gardens first.
110 South Parade, Blackburn
If you’re staying centrally in Melbourne, Blackburn is further than most of the other cafes mentioned here.
That said, Black Alchemy is a five-minute walk from Blackburn Station so jumping on a train from Flinders Street is the simplest way to get here. Poached eggs, beetroot hummus, mixed berry muffins and cold-drip coffee await your arrival so you’ll be rewarded for your effort in getting here.
Naked Racer Bar Cafe
1 Grange Road (cnr Grange Road and Voltri Street), Cheltenham
Naked Racer is both a cafe, a bar and also a live music venue. While not hidden from street view at all, it is hidden in terms of being little-known by Melbourne cafe-goers generally.
For coffee and food lovers, as well as motorbike and scooter enthusiasts, a visit is mandatory. Try the coconut and almond milk bircher muesli at any time of day.
12–18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
This warehouse-turned-cafe is home to artisanal coffee and Instagram-friendly food.
The beloved Melbourne cafe and roastery was originally the brainchild of Mark Dundon
Well known in Melbourne for its award-winning coffee, you can dine in and also buy coffee and coffee-making and -serving equipment. Coffee and whisky brownies, a stack of pancakes with coffee-infused maple syrup, white chocolate and blueberry pancakes?
St Ali has come to be known as a Melbourne coffee institution
If you need more reasons to get here, you’ll find them on its Instagram account.
13 Stawell Street, West Melbourne
This cafe is the epitome of what’s great about Melbourne: industrial chic, raw wooden tables and chairs, exposed brickwork, walls that are galleries for local street artists and coffee that puts other cities in the shadows.
Opt for a couple of small plates to share (marinated olives, lemon pepper chicken wings, pan-fried greens with tahini) or choose an all-day breakfast. The acai bowl with granola and fresh fruit or the Portuguese sardines are delectable at any time of day.
Catering to dietary requests, if you’re after vegan, gluten free, vegetarian or nut-free, Roller Door delivers.