Melbourne Coffee Diary (ii)

Now that my first internship is over, I'm glad to have time to write and edit pictures again.  I always come out of internships feeling like I should make the most of my last few years as a student, and bake and travel as much as possible. I miss travelling very much - how I wish I could go back to Australia right now, or book a flight to Bali or something for a quick getaway! 

Since work ended, I've been trying to figure out what modules to take and how this whole bidding thing works. While I'm excited to be doing electives, I miss having my modules pre-allocated to me, your schedule simply handed to you. In fact, the law bidding system is already significantly easier than the bidding system used by the rest of nus. Honestly, I think I've gained a deeper appreciation for my faculty in the last week than I have in the last two years. I'm also very thankful to have someone to go through all this information and help me figure out what I want, although this isn't a problem for him (yet). 

Going back to the coffee diaries - part two has both hits and misses. It features my favourite coffee of the entire trip, but also two coffees that I believed to be more chocolate than coffee! I decided to put them together to balance this list out a bit. 

5. Higher Ground

Higher Ground is the sister cafe of The Kettle Black and Top Paddock - I believe everyone knows the latter for its famous ricotta hotcake, which has been recreated in the kitchens of many Singaporean cafes. I would've loved to go to Top Paddock as it's one of those places you should go to at least once when you're in Melbourne, but it wasn't very convenient given our four-day itinerary in Melbourne city. Since all these cafes are by the same people (and all of them have the famous hotcake), we decided to head down to Higher Ground since it was their newest opening and was located in the CBD, right where we were staying. 

The cafe's aesthetics are on point: high ceilings, large windows, lots of natural light. It's got this modern-industrial vibe about it. I liked the music they played:  loud, but not intrusive, and the kind of music that makes you feel good. I didn't expect much from the coffee, knowing that I came here primarily for the hotcake - but boy that latte art is gorgeous. First impressions do count for something, and I went in rather excitedly, only to come taste a mouthful of... chocolate. The coffee isn't strong and wasn't impressionable but the chocolate was really good. There were moments I forgot this was a cappuccino and thought this was a mocha instead. 

650 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Mon - Wed: 7am - 4pm
Thu - Fri: 7am - 12am
Sat: 8am - 12am
Sun: 8am - 4pm 

6. Padre Coffee Roasters

The Padre outlet we visited is located in the South Melbourne Market. It was a crowded Wednesday, and seats were hard to come by. We got our coffee in a to-go cup, but a table came up just in time! Hardware gets their coffee from Padre (see Coffee Diary (i)), but I personally felt that Hardware's coffee is better than their supplier's.

Not that Padre's coffee was bad - it was a simple, standard cup: dark roast, caramel aftertaste, smooth textures. It should definitely be an option when you need a pick-me-up after making your rounds in the market, or when you feel like playing things safe. 

Stall 33 South Melbourne Market
326/322 Coventry Street, South Melbourne VIC 3205
Open Wed; Fri - Sun: 8am - 4pm

7. St Ali's Coffee Roasters

We stopped by St Ali's on our way to the Direct Factory Outlet at South Wharf (btw, not worth the trip - selection is not great and we pretty much left there empty-handed). It was a toss-up between St Ali's and Dead Man Espresso, both of which have 4.3 stars on google maps and look equally cool in their own ways. But St Ali's was just that little bit closer to us, so we headed there instead. Might have been one of the best decisions of the entire trip. 

I didn't know much of St Ali's before coming to Melbourne, not like how I knew some of the bigger names - Market Lane; Proud Mary, etc. It certainly isn't quite as well-known, and I can't think of any reasons why. To say that the coffee was a pleasant surprise would be an understatement, to say the least. I have never enjoyed a light roast as much as I have this! It had a clear mandarin flavour, coupled with hints of chocolate - reminiscent of a chocolate orange. It's sharp without being bitter, and at the same time it's not overly sweet in any way. This coffee spoke to my soul and refreshed me instantly. Definitely a must-try if you'll be in Melbourne! 

12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
Open daily 7am - 6pm

8. Rustica Canteen

First things first: come here for the pastries, not the coffee. Sadly, I couldn't really taste the coffee itself.  There was so much chocolate powder sprinkled atop the (already thin and weak) coffee, resulting in a coffee that felt more like a hot chocolate. It would make for a decent hot chocolate, though it was not what we were hoping for at 8 in the morning. But to be fair, this place isn't known for its coffee. Rustica is famous for its pastries, and I suppose that's why the cafe was so full at such an early hour. The passionfruit cronut that we got to-go was indeed something spectacular, and I really enjoyed it despite eating it a few hours later!

33 Guildford Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
Mon - Fri: 7am - 4pm
Sat - Sun: 8am - 4pm

9. Brother Baba Budan 

Not quite satisfied, we made our way to Brother Baba Budan, which was only a few streets down from Rustica. It just so happened that a friend left a comment on one of my Instagram photos recommending their filter coffee to me, so we happily made our way over and ordered a filter coffee to-go. 

Little did we know that the cup of filter coffee was going to be very expensive. We strolled back to our apartment to pick up our luggage for our flight to Sydney, only to realise that our flight was leaving in 40 minutes and we weren't going to make it to the airport in time. So that's how we missed our flight to Sydney. We tried calling the Jetstar hotline, and they told us that we would have to book an entirely new flight (which would cost us $250 each!). 

Not wanting to completely rebook our flights, we decided to just head to the airport first to see what could be done there - I really hate phone conversations, and I suppose the Jetstar people do too. When we ran to the Jetstar counter at the airport in person, a very kind lady named Andrea allowed us to simply change our flight to a later one for $50 each. That's one-fifth of what we were supposed to pay at first! Lesson learnt: always head down to the airport anyway, don't bother with the telephone, or simply get your flight timing right and make it to the airport at the correct time...

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Anyway, I didn't actually manage to taste BBB's coffee properly, all I remember is that it was still pretty hot and I burnt my throat trying to finish it as quickly as I could while trying to get to the skybus terminal. But at least I did get to try it, I guess! I'm definitely coming back for you on my next trip :_) 

359 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Mon - Sat: 7am - 5pm
Sun: 9am - 5pm

If you can only go to one place on this list, 

You probably saw this coming: St Ali's Coffee Roasters! I can't speak much for the cafe's atmosphere because we got this cup to-go, but the ten minutes I spent there was pleasant enough. It was busy (and with coffee so good, I can definitely see why) and there was a hip industrial vibe about the place. But the star is definitely the coffee. So, so good. 

See you in part three! x