Food & Beverage

Melbourne’s Coffee Culture

Australia's second city loves the 'tall white.'


While attending AIME in Australia last week, I learned a surprising fact: An espresso machine restorer and collector named Daniel di Paola calculated that Melbourne has more coffee shops per capita than any Italian city.

The vast Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre is home to several coffee kiosks, but I couldn’t resist trying a new spot each morning. Even though it’s summertime in Oz, my go-to source of caffeine, an iced red eye, was never on the menu. Calatrava, an Italian bakery in the Crown Entertainment Complex across the street from the convention center, serves up a rich, sweet affogato-style iced coffee. Next I tried The Boatbuilders’ Yard, a sprawling indoor/outdoor eatery straddled by both the Centre and the Polly Woodside, a completely restored tall ship that’s available for private events. When I asked for a black iced coffee, I played a round of “Are you sure?” with the barista before walking over to MCEC with a medium-strength cup of hot coffee poured over ice. It wasn’t bad at all.

I don’t want to dwell on the “iced coffee beverage” I bought from a vending machine on the second day of AIME. Suffice it to say, the first ingredient was milk.

I struck gold on my final morning at the conference. Charlie Lovett, a local chain, has an outpost at Melbourne’s South Wharf, a laid-back stretch of restaurants and event spaces on the water five minutes from MCEC. Charlie speaks my language: cold drip coffee as black as my heart! (pictured) It was the perfect counterpoint to the toast with ricotta, strawberry jam, and honey that I ordered for breakfast.

The coffee at Melbourne’s Tullamarine International Airport deserves an honorable mention. A barista at Hudson’s served up a fitting send-off: an Iced Americano with three espresso shots. On a 14-hour flight there are no rules.

Kate Mulcrone

Kate Mulcrone is digital editor of Convene.