The 12 Best Hidden Cafes In Melbourne
Is there a nook or cranny that Melbourne doesn't fill with a cafe?
Melburnians love their coffee. To be honest, sometimes it’s all they seem to talk about. But it’s fair enough, because very few cities in the world have a coffee culture to rival it.
To feed the city’s love for the bean, Melbourne has spawned cafes out of every nook and cranny, resulting in some of the most innovative, unusual and absolutely unexpected locations for coffee houses. We searched high and low to find some of Melbourne’s most extreme and off-the-beaten-track locations for curing your morning coffee craving.
Just near the cafe-filled Degraves Lane, via a subway to Flinders Street Station, is the underground Campbell Arcade. Lurking in this alley is a coffee-lovers delight. Cup Of Truth is hidden downstairs and around a corner in the dimly lit and poorly ventilated underground retail and arts space.
Serving only take-away coffees, it’s a hole in the wall with a limited menu but fast-paced service. The arcade was opened in 1955 in preparation for the Melbourne Olympic Games and little has changed since. With pink tiled walls and thick roman pillars, there’s no need to add your retro Instagram filter.
#2 In A Convent
Of course you can get coffee in a convent. It’s basically a religion, after all.
The iconic Abbotsford Convent has been transformed into a carefully curated into an arts and entertainment precinct, with event spaces, studios, bars, a live music venue, restaurants and beautiful gardens.
The old Kitchen Annex which would have served the Sisters of Good Shepherd is now The Convent Bakery. Using two masonry wood fire ovens from 1901, it’s no surprise that the Convent Bakery is known for its breads, but we recommend their fair trade and organic coffee which is roasted, ground and brewed in house.
Come for the baked goods, stay for the beans.
#3 In The Sky
Want to get high? At a whopping 297m tall, the Eureka Tower is both Melbourne’s highest vantage point and the highest public viewing deck in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s on the building’s 88th floor at the Skydeck that you can grab a fresh brew amongst the clouds.
Coincidentally, they serve Gravity beans here. And a $11-$19.50 entry free applies.
#4 In Someone’s Back Shed
Looking like nothing more than an inner city garden shed by night, this West Melbourne garage turns into a busy organic cafe by day.
An easy stroll from North Melbourne train station, the aptly named Roller Door Cafe serves ethical coffee with quick brunches and lunches. It has kept its rustic feel with mismatched furniture, milk crate seats, corrugated iron walls and graffiti-covered bricks.
#5 On An Island
You’ve probably been dragged to Ponyfish Island for drinks (or shown it off to your interstate visitors for locals), but what you might not know is that the bar is open from 11am weekdays (10am on weekends) to serve up brunch and coffee.
The venue is accessible only via a set of stairs mid-away along the pedestrian bridge where extreme rain has been known to bring business to a halt due to being three feet underwater. Hot tip – don’t go when it’s underwater, you will be disappointed. And soggy.
#6 From A Literal Cupboard
Switch Board Cafe is small. Really small. And given that it’s located in what was once a switchboard cupboard, it’s totally makes sense. Located on the ground level of the heritage-listed Manchester Unity Building on Collins Street, it offers a couple of seats along with some vintage charm, delivering piping hot espresso, soups, retro cakes and take-away toasties.
#7 On Top Of A Mountain
One hour out of the big smoke and perched at the summit of Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula is Arthurs Hotel. Between 11am and 3pm you can enjoy your long black 55m above sea level with 180-degree views of Port Phillip Bay. Did we mention they do beer and wine, too?
#8 In A Prison
Prentridge Prison in Coburg began taking inmates in 1851, and embedded in its 120-year operational history are some of Melbourne’s most notorious names, like Chopper Read and Squizzy Taylor.
It’s here you’ll find Jury Cafe, inspired by its criminal past but designed with colourful award-winning interiors. It’s well worth a look for the interior alone, listed as #4 in Designcurial‘s “10 Best Designed Cafes In The World”.
#9 On A Tram Platform
If you’re heading to or from St Kilda on the 96 tram, you can’t miss this one. Mart 130 has turned an old station on Canterbury Road – platform and all – into an acclaimed coffee house and lunch spot. Nothing says Melbourne more than your tram pulling up right at the cafe door.
Stay safe and stand behind the yellow line and, to add to the excitement, watch out overhead for flying golf balls from the nearby Albert Park Driving Range.
#10 On A Bike Path
While we’re talking transport, Green Park Dining in Carlton North sits in the middle of a busy – and we mean very busy – bike path, the Capital City Trail, which filters a steady stream of flannelette-wearing fixie-riders through the northern suburbs.
#11 In A Shipping Container
The product of a growing cafe, arts and music culture in the western ‘burbs has seen Rudimentary pop up in Footscray. Although it’s housed in one of the most well-designed shipping container conversions that you’ll ever see, it isn’t the best place to sit down for a business meeting or D&M, though it certainly makes for a lively place to refuel.
Plus, its lead barista has moved across from North Melbourne’s Auction Rooms, meaning the party in your mouth will quickly drown out the party in your ears.
#12 On A Golf Course
Not your average “19th Hole”, Mister Fox is a sleek cafe in the club rooms of Ringwood Golf Course. Enjoy your single-origin while watching golfers attempt to hit balls and then go walking (or buggying) after them. What a sport, hey?!
Mister Fox serves Genovese espresso with daily specials. They also put golf tees in sangas so be sure to indulge in their curated and colourful brunch menu.
(Lead image: Rudimentary)