Northside: Ask the most jittery-with-it barista where they get their fix when they’re off duty, and almost all of them will drop Seven Seeds in Carlton, the Premises in Kensington, and Collingwood’s Proud Mary into the mix. The north boasts a veritable army of hipsters, students, and affluent creatives whose diet often appears to consist exclusively of latte and friands – and the café culture that has sprung up to cater to their needs is mighty indeed. Cupboard-sized cafés are three to a block, plus you’ve got small roasters like Atomica (Fitzroy), Wide Open Road (Brunswick), Social Roasting Company (Kensington) and the Auction Rooms (North Melbourne), which not only draw crowds of loyal drinkers to their premises, but have their beans used and sold by cafés on both sides of the river. Live graffiti art and DJ toting spaces like Juddy Roller and Grizzly Espresso make the upper reaches good for getting your think and drink on.
Southside: “They started it!” may be the most childish excuse of all time, but when it comes down to who got everyone all hysterical about single origins, the temperature of milk and words like ristretto, we’re pointing our fingers at South Melbourne’s St Ali. Sure, there were coffee nerds before Mark Dundon began the business that Salvatore Malatesta has turned into an empire, but back then you were exactly that – a nerd. For making what is essentially a very low-grade simulant into a sexy drug with street cred, we give them a tip of our hat. The South also boasts Fleur Studd from Market Lane (Prahran) whose green bean importing business Melbourne Coffee Merchants made it possible for Melbourne’s micro-roasters to get their blends on. As for cool places to get caffeinated? Dukes, Galleon, Eugenius, Hobba, Three Bags Full and Monk Bodhi Dharma all make a pretty sweet brew and a strong argument in favour of going below the belt.
The champion: South