The Best Cafés in Brunswick, Melbourne

Wide Open Coffee cappuccino
Wide Open Coffee cappuccino | © Wide Open Coffee
Photo of Tom Smith
2 January 2019

Melbourne is a city obsessed by coffee, and nowhere is that caffeine addiction more obvious than the hipster heartland of Brunswick.

There are two things that hipsters require for fuel – smashed avocado and speciality coffee – and they’ll find both in abundance around the streets of Brunswick. From chic boutique roasteries to charming hole-in-the-wall brunch spots, these are the top 10 places for a caffeine hit in the trendy inner-north neighbourhood of Brunswick, Melbourne.

Wide Open Road

Cafe, Australian, $$$
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Wide Open Coffee bar © Wide Open Coffee
Wide Open Coffee bar | © Wide Open Coffee

This spacious converted warehouse oozes Scandinavian cool, and the house-roasted coffee is both delicious and responsible, with beans sourced ethically and transparently. Wide Open Road’s all-day brunch menu is just as wholesome as the beans – choose from dishes like cauliflower and quinoa salad, harissa chickpeas, and a nourish bowl loaded with seared tuna, pickled cabbage and ginger greens.

Ray’s Cafe

Cafe, Australian, $$$
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Cup of coffee © margaretglin / Flickr
Cup of coffee | © margaretglin / Flickr

Before Mark Dundon opened iconic Melbourne cafés Seven Seeds and Brother Baba Budan – as well as Sydney speciality coffee giants Reuben Hills and Paramount Coffee Project – he started out with this charming Brunswick institution. Ray’s buzzes with a diverse crowd who flock to this rustic Victoria Street institution for the top-notch coffee by Northcote roasters Atomica, and the beer, cider and Bloody Marys later in the day.

Miss Marmalade

Cafe, Australian, $$$
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Miss Marmalade exterior sign © Miss Marmalade
Miss Marmalade exterior sign | © Miss Marmalade

This family-friendly café isn’t just great for children – there are plenty of decadent dishes on offer for grown-ups, too. The homely Miss Marmalade dishes up all the delicious brunch classics, brews coffee by Richmond’s Clark Street Roasters, and even has a special back room with kid-sized furniture, children’s books and a colourful toy box to entertain the little ones.

East Elevation

Cafe, Healthy, $$$
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East Elevation interior © East Elevation
East Elevation interior | © East Elevation

Step through the mysterious unsigned red door to discover one of Brunswick East’s best-hidden brunch spots, pumping out house-roasted coffee, freshly baked pastries, and seasonal brekky dishes. East Elevation shares its stylish space with artisan chocolatier Monsieur Truffle, so you can marvel at those confectionary creations while you’re sipping on your cappuccino. The café also curates an alley garden around the corner to grow fresh ingredients for the kitchen.

Foxtrot Charlie

Cafe, Australian, $$$
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Foxtrot Charlie interior © Foxtrot Charlie
Foxtrot Charlie interior | © Foxtrot Charlie

F stands for food, C stands for coffee, and Foxtrot Charlie stands for quality. This Sydney Road boutique roaster produces its own house blend as well as a range of single origins including a number of organics. The house-roasted coffee goes beautifully with the very modern brunch menu – think spinach and coconut milk pancakes, salmon gravlax on sprouted rye bread, and plenty of vegan options.

Cafe, Australian
Map View cafe in Brunswick © cafe in Brunswick | ©

This social enterprise café serves more than just porridge in the morning and bagels in the afternoon – 100 per cent of the profits go towards fighting youth homelessness and hunger in Victoria. Dishing out coffee and brunch from a hole-in-the-wall near Anstey railway station, donates its lunch profits to Eat Up Australia and its coffee and bagel proceeds to organisations helping young homeless people, meaning your morning cuppa really makes a difference to the community.

Code Black Coffee

Cafe, Australian, $$$
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Cup of coffee © Steve Corey / Flickr
Cup of coffee | © Steve Corey / Flickr

Code Black’s decor is – predictably – jet black, a suitable setting for one of Brunswick’s coolest coffee joints. Sitting just off Sydney Road, this Weston Street café serves a seasonal blend plus a rotating single origin roasted in-house, as well as a tasty food menu. This impressive roastery is spearheaded by Joseph Haddad, the brains behind the chain of Cafenatics stores sprinkled throughout inner-city Melbourne.

Small Axe

Cafe, Australian, $$$
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Filter coffee © Graeme Anderson / Flickr
Filter coffee | © Graeme Anderson / Flickr

Small Axe, big flavours. Former Code Black chef Adam Pruckner opened his own place just off Sydney Road in 2016, combining modern brunch classics with traditional Sicilian flavours in a sunny 100-year-old building on Victoria Street. The coffee, of course, comes from Code Black – the lightly roasted house blend is used for black coffees, while milk coffees employ the medium-dark ‘ex-wife’ blend.

A1 Bakery

Bakery, Lebanese
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Fresh bread © Marco Verch / Flickr
Fresh bread | © Marco Verch / Flickr

This Lebanese bakery, grocer and café has been an institution in the heart of Sydney Road since way back in 1992. The decor is old-school, the welcome is warm, and the coffee is best enjoyed with A1’s signature baklava. This family business also serves a hearty dinner, bakes an array of bread, and also supplies Middle Eastern groceries and specialities to take home.

Padre Coffee

Cafe, Coffee Shop, Australian, $$$
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Padre baristas Sam and Rob © Padre
Padre baristas Sam and Rob | © Padre

Padre boasts locations in South Melbourne and Noosa, but Brunswick East is where it all began. This sleek Lygon Street café roasts a number of single origins and house blends from dozens of different estates around the globe, accompanied by a punchy selection of takeaway sweet and savoury snacks. Padre also hosts roasting and cupping courses, and features a retail space brimming with everything a budding brewer could ever need.

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