Coffee Wars – September

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Dukes Coffee Roaster

169 Chapel St, Windsor

4.5 / 5 Beans

There is no doubt that Dukes Coffee is the reigning ‘cool’ place for breakfast in Windsor as anyone worth their salt in the ‘brunch set’ would testify. Heaving at the seams on weekends, there isn’t much option left without hoards of punters queuing inside and out. While this ‘human corral’ is inevitable when you’re this good, I must say this is actually a major issue in winter, especially with the front door being left open far too long, consequently freezing all the nearby customers at such a welcoming communal table. Nonetheless, the staff does an outstanding job of dealing with the hordes. Breakfast is of a high quality and the coffee is even more magnificent. With Dukes roasting their own coffee, you can expect nothing but 30mls of the best deep, rich, nutty espresso you have ever wrapped your lips around… In fact, I’d say it’s almost like kissing God, only sweeter. Just make sure you are time rich. Oh, and bring a coat.

 

 

Lava in Balaclava

219 Carlisle St, Balaclava

4/5 Beans

 

For those familiar with the old Lava in Balaclava, it was no secret that the coffee left a lasting impression… just for all the wrong reasons. That was, however, until a recent major overhaul with their brand-new Synchro machines and rich, full bodied blend by Veneziano of Abbotsford. Now pouring rich, well-rounded espresso with deep chocolate notes and a low acidity, Lava’s coffee is finally a hot cup of love. While the menu remains decidedly bloated, there truly are some delicious options to find if you can wade though the ‘design your own pasta’ offerings and the rainbow of different schnitzel configurations. Boasting a new coffee window complete with freshly toasted sandwiches for those in a rush (the pumpkin sandwich can’t be missed) Lava is finding its flow. Just like an old pair of Ugg boots, Lava might not be the most glamorous but it sure is redeemingly comfy and consistent.

 

La Cafe on Nelson

28 Nelson St, Balaclava

4/5 Beans

 

Just a hop, skip and jump from the hustle and bustle of busy Carlisle Street, lies La Cafe on Nelson, a favourite amongst the locals, with Israeli inspired dining, a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and great coffee to boot! A small brick house establishment, with outside front patio and side courtyard, this place feels like home from the moment you enter. With a warm cottage like feel and blistering cold outside, I settled in nicely to my hot skinny cappuccino (small for $3.50) that had been made to perfection. A great medium roast blend, with a selection of five of the finest beans, La Cafe’s ‘Hook Turn’ coffee is warm and rich with delectable chocolate and caramel undertones, medium acidity and a velvety consistency that will have you coming back for more! Also recently on offer is their delightful single origin blend from Atomica, called ‘Sumatra Wahara’ – mildly acidic with medium body, showcasing hints of strawberry, mandarin and spice. So if it’s more than a caffeine hit that you’re after, these people know one or two things about coffee!

 

 

Monkey

157 Chapel St, St Kilda

4/5 Beans

 

Small, ‘cutesy’ and recently renovated, with signage you can’t miss from the corner of Carlisle and Chapel Street, this is a little gem not to be walked by. Greeted warmly by owner, manager and barista Harry, alongside his lovely staff, it is not only the good coffee, but the quick, friendly and reliable service that makes this place a hit. More of a takeaway establishment with only limited seating, this is the sort of the cafe that you can duck out of as quickly as you ducked in and get that morning fix or much anticipated caffeine hit on the run. Ordering a small hot skinny cappuccino ($3.50) made with Red Star Organic Blend; the coffee had a taste unique to what I’ve been accustomed to before. Supporting the highest possible ethical and environmental standards, the double blend exuded a sweet and yet tangy acidity with a medium body and undertone of citrus. An enjoyable cup of coffee if you’re looking for something a little bit different.

 

Miletos

132 Chapel St, Windsor

2.5/5 Beans


Re-emerging from its old face as a deli and bakery, Miletos new café style gives their customers that wholesome, authentic Italian style and service as well as a menu with hearty, filling food. My friend and I, wearied from shopping for a new outfit for her birthday, wandered into the café trying to get away from the afternoon wind. I ordered my usual short macchiato, and she decided upon a soy latte. The coffees were in front of us in no time at all. Mileto’s chosen blend is the vibrant red organic Rosso; this blend gives a sophisticated taste, with a very heavy body and a thick wine feel. The barista had created a beautiful coffee, despite the ‘fortunato’ bean of choice. My friend’s latte was quite weak, but it’s always pleasing when a barista can use soy milk properly! A gorgeous spot, we plan to return for the food and service.

 

IL Fornaio

2c Acland St, St Kilda

4/5 Beans
Just off the beaten path that is Fitzroy Street, down near the Esplanade is a gorgeous little café that I had been wanting to experience every time I drove past it. I finally had a morning where I could and ventured in to this enigmatic little spot. I ordered a short macchiato using their house blend, a mix of Brazillian and El Salvador beans that they called ‘Agent Smith’, and then another after my meal after one of the attentive staff suggested I try their flavor of the week, a single origin bean from Costa Rica. The first short macchiato was a light bodied coffee with a mild aftertaste, a very enjoyable blend. The single origin short macchiato was equally enjoyable, medium bodied with a round citric juiciness to give it a little more kick, with notes of papaya and lime. I love that they give you a choice of bean, it makes it more adventurous! Beautiful coffee and a humorous and diverse menu, IL Fornaio’s is now going to be one of my regular spots.

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