Exploring Melbourne's Specialty Coffee Scene

Photo of Dee Ludd
8 November 2016

Cappuccino, latte, flat white, long black and espresso are common knowledge to most coffee consumers; now there’s cold drip, batch brew, filter and magic to contend with. Introduce to the mix alternative brewing techniques such as the V60, Aero Press and Stovetop and many eyes would glaze over. Here, we sort out all of this and more in Melbourne‘s coffee culture.

Manchester Press Specialty Coffee | SpecialtyCoffeeHighlights

Speciality coffee culture is all about love for the produce and associated techniques used to brew. Everything is treated with care and precision from sourcing coffee beans, to roasting and perfecting the water-to-grind ratio. Living in Melbourne exposes you to the heart of speciality coffee, given the sheer number of cafés valuing coffee as an artisan product.

The social importance of speciality coffee is growing exponentially across Melbourne. There seems to be a correlation in house prices and number of specialty coffee offerings nearby in the area. Furthermore, the gentrification of the suburbs is being kicked off with the introduction of cafés that supply artisan coffee.

The coffee experience has also changed over the years with most consumers now lingering in the café to read a book, complete some work or to socialise. It wasn’t long ago that coffee in the city seemed as though it was only consumed for its practical benefits such as waking up. People still want that ‘coffee buzz’ but are now expect a certain lifestyle and experience. This has a lot to do with the care that is put into preparing each cup and the amazing taste of specialty coffee that consumers want to enjoy over and over again.

Admiral Cheng-Ho Specialty Coffee | SpecialtyCoffeeHighlights

Instagram’s Specialty Coffee Highlights, went on a journey to do exactly that by setting themself the task of proving that you could consume a specialty coffee at a different Melbourne café every day for 100 consecutive days. There really are no excuses not to find good coffee in Melbourne and the surrounding areas. Specialty Coffee Highlights sampled the very best caffeine Melbourne has to offer, from as far west as Caroline Springs to the far east in Canterbury and everywhere in between. Coffee is no longer just reserved for the bristling city streets but the sprawling suburbs, too.

The passion on display across the city is incredible, with most baristas happy to talk you through all the options available, from where the beans were sourced, to the brewing technique used and the accompanying tasting notes. In some instances an information card outlining these details will be provided so you can self-educate. Cupping sessions are held regularly by roasters who allow the public to come and sample their produce and improve their knowledge of the roasting process and tasting notes.

So how do you identify a Melbourne café that has speciality coffee on the menu? There are few signs that could potentially help:

Wide Open Road Coffee Roasters | SpecialtyCoffeeHighlights

It is located in an obscure location with minimal signage. Branding is not clearly or immediately apparent. There are milk crates scattered around the place. Coffee menus are offered or written on boards. Fashionable people are congregating around the place and of course, evidence of selfie culture.

Specialty Coffee Highlights has now concluded the 100-day journey and is set to keep exploring this fascinating sub-culture that is constantly evolving. The next phase will be to uncover the numerous brewing techniques. Equipment such as the V60 and Aero Press are relatively inexpensive and come with benefit of being able to brew specialty coffee at any location. Specialty Coffee Highlights plans to showcase these techniques across Melbourne landscapes as well as continue to highlight unique and high quality cafés.

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