‘Coffee Wars’

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So the battle for the foremost cup of coffee in St Kilda continues!

For those many caffeine addicts in our region, the monthly St Kilda Bites food feature is proud to present another instalment of Coffee Wars; our regular coffee review section of the ever expanding database of restaurants, cafes, coffee lounges, bakeries and other breakfast and snack outlets that have a reputation for producing and serving excellent coffee in the greater St Kilda area.

Our new discerning coffee critic, Oakley Hunter, will be continually searching for and uncovering new coffee houses, and revealing her findings in each monthly issue of the St Kilda Bites food feature. She is on a relentless quest to discover that quintessential cup of Espresso for our coffee loving readers. Not only in traditional St Kilda central’s, Acland and Fitzroy streets, but under her stewardship, it now embraces St Kilda East, Middle Park, Elwood, Ripponlea, Elsternwick, Prahran,  Balaclava and even Brighton and Caulfield Park.

This continues to be a fascinating journey of coffee appreciation. Her assessment will be based on flavour, body, texture, strength and presentation, and each place’s example will be rated out of ‘5 Beans’.

The Coffee Wars battle will continue for 12 months and in November, there will be a ‘taste off’ of all venues reviewed and a gruelling assessment conducted narrowed down to the 12 best coffee makers (baristas), who will then compete to achieve the crown of our best coffee maker, at a venue to be announced, and be awarded the St Kilda Bites Golden Bean!

This issue we also take much pleasure in introducing our first ‘Barista of the Month’ feature, where we search for and profile some of the best coffee makers in our area.

If you would like St Kilda Bites to critique your favourite coffee spot, please phone our head food writer, the Food Dude, on 0427 382 772 or Email: fooddude@stkildanews.com.



223 Carlisle St, St Kilda East

4/5 Beans

Gattica has all your choices when it comes to what you want. Want to sit out in the sunshine? Sure. Sit inside away from the freezing cold that makes me wrap myself in all of the clothes in my wardrobe? Sure. In-a-hurry-and-I’m-already-late-for-work? Their café window/bar has a gorgeous Barista waiting to give you any coffee you need, quick as a flash. Their blend is a mix of Peruvian, Ethiopian and Brazilian beans, giving my short macchiato a caramel smoothness and a dark, cherry flavor.

Little Westbury Café

Carlisle St, St Kilda East

3.5/5 Beans

Just next to Westbury Rd is one of those little gems that looks like it would be that place in a movie where the main character falls in love with a tall-dark-handsome. Even if you visit, and you’re the only person apart from the barrister, you will find yourself falling in love with their gorgeous colorful coffee cups, funky music and delicious local Dukes coffee. I really enjoyed the openness of this little café and my short mac reminded me of a good pinot noir, light and fruity.


Carlisle St, St Kilda East

4.5/5 Beans

My friend and I were told to venture to Batch by another friend, who is the kind of guy who would drive across Melbourne for a good brew despite living next door to a coffee house. So we perched ourselves at their window bar on a late afternoon and soon had a soy latte and short macchiato in front of us. My friend was delighted to have found a barista that could actually heat soy milk properly and my macchiato was one of the best I’ve ever had; sweet, smooth, delicious, I didn’t even have to put any sugar in like a usually do.

Squares on Fitzroy

157 Fitzroy St, St Kilda East

3.5/5 Beans

A very clean and modern coffee house, it felt nice to watch the patrons tap away on their computers or enjoy their lunch by the large windows on the street front. This open spaced café and restaurant uses Organic Espresso coffee, and I was excited to try this blend. My short macchiato had quite a heavy body and high acidity, and I could only pick a ‘generic coffee’ flavour – but overall, a good coffee for a cold day.

GB Espresso

135 Fitzroy St, St Kilda

4.5/5 Beans

GB Espresso’s sophisticated interior and leather couch is a wonderful place to relax on a Sunday afternoon. With my newly delivered book and Jack Johnson’s ‘Banana Pancakes’ playing to the rain outside, I once again ordered my usual short macchiato. Using their chosen boutique Harvest Blend of Five Senses, the barista crafted me a sweet, almost sparkling coffee with a lighter body and berry undertone –it’s very pleasing to find a barista who knows how to make a great coffee.


Barista of the Month

One St Kilda trend that sets this vibrant village apart is its love of fresh talent. The abundance of young guns making our coffee and cooking our food has led to St Kilda being synonymous with vitality and fresh ideas, and the place to kick-start your summer.

Lava in Balaclava is no different, with their fabulous young barista Georgia, leading ranks and striding forward with the recent acquisition of a coffee window on Carlisle Street.

The four months since becoming head barista have flown by for Kiwi Georgia, a self-confessed coffee nerd and a more reluctant coffee snob. Starting her coffee training at 15, Melbourne’s favourite brew was love at first sip for Georgia. Years of training and expanding her skills have led to a palpable passion for coffee that is a true delight to see. She takes time out of her day to brush up on her knowledge of new blends and roasts, but as coffee for Georgia is a personal hobby as well as a professional skill, it doesn’t sound too much like hard work. Her move to Melbourne was the perfect lifestyle choice for such a coffee obsessive. She loves the excellent standard of coffee the city has to offer, made by people who truly love what they do.

Lava in Balaclava and Georgia seem like a match made in heaven. Valenciano’s coffee, another new addition to this rapidly expanding business, appears to be the perfect choice. With a great selection of single origins and blends, Valenciano’s allows Lava in Balaclava and Georgia and her team to offer their customers an all-round coffee experience. At the time of writing, the Brazil Rainha was the single origin of choice. A Brazil Cup of Excellence confirms the high standards we’ve come to expect of our coffee, and this single origin comes highly recommended by Georgia in the form of a flat white. Lava in Balaclava will now feature a regularly changing series of exciting single origins, characterised by seasonal beans. Georgia in particular loves the introduction of a single origin, as while it gives her the chance to try something new, it also allows her to really connect with her customers and make some recommendations that could turn into a new favourite.

As with any expert, Georgia is eager to impart her knowledge and enthusiasm to others. Eternally patient with my own coffee ignorance, she was more than happy to answer my (absolutely stupid) questions and chat about her favourites. I was amazed more than once with the knowledge she holds about just every kind of coffee one can buy. After the introduction of the single origin, for example, she went home and boned up on the catalogue; “I knew everything, and then no-one asked me so I forgot!” she jokes, before advising me on how to make the perfect decaf. The secret is freshly ground beans, something Lava in Balaclava has in abundance.

I loved meeting Georgia, with the infectious enthusiasm and enviable skill coupled with encyclopedic knowledge. It was wonderful to see someone so confident and passionate, and in a business that appreciates and encourages her love of coffee.



Barista Profile Presented by Raechel Beaumont (Peckish Pom)

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