Brother Baba Budan

359 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

When it comes to coffee places, I’ve got a typically fatboo-esque saying. And it’s about how coffee alchemist, Mark Dundon, has erected a “Holy Trinity” of cafés: Seven Seeds in Carlton,  De Clieu in Fitzroy, and in the CBD itself, we got Brother Baba Budan.

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There’s a story behind why all three places were named so, it’s all linked to the histories behind coffee, along with possible mythological aspects towards my favourite bean. All that said, I still think ‘Brother Baba Budan’ is quite a monkish, clunky name for a café. This little caffeine nook sits in a tight corner space on Little Bourke St… right beside that wandersome, graffitti’ed alley called Rankins Ln where the white stark walls and ‘coffee-faces’ of Manchester Press resides.

Pictured below, a lovely cappuccino from the Brother’s BB… as ordered and enjoyed by my friend, Castletime. That was a long time ago, when I had only just started blogging. I had a very very lovely flat white at Seven Seeds a month before, and was hoping it’d be as great here.

Brother Baba Budan  7 Seeds Blend  2Castletime’s Cappuccino

These days, I prefer having magics and piccolos in Melbourne’s cafés, causing confusion to some waiting staff who’d never heard of a drink as wankily named as a “Magic!”. But I’ve now learnt that I could always specify for a “double ristretto three quarter flat white” and the barista would generally know exactly what it is I’m after and happily have a crack at it.

Whatever it is, I know I am in good hands when I’m visiting a specialty coffee café. I-Hua and I popped in here for coffees after our rich rich visit to EARL Canteen nearby. I wish I worked in the CBD, so many wonderful places so close at hand that you can stroll into! I-Hua tells me they rotate the baristas between here and Seven Seeds, so after some scrutiny, I did notice a familiar face or two.

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Here’s my piccolo (top left), using Seven Seed’s new season’s beans for 2012, It wasn’t too bad, with a slightly broken milk cap, and a mild but noticeable chemical-ish aftertaste during the last few sips. So this cup wasn’t quite as smoothly made and served as I’d have liked.

And here’s I-Hua’s skinny latte (bottom right), which looked a little anemic, if I may point out. She said it was milky but liked how smooth it was. My palate now prefers my coffees strong, so the sip I took from her cup basically tasted like milk, ha ha! Doubt I can ever order lattes or flat whites anymore!

In short, I wasn’t too impressed with BBB’s coffees that day. I thought Brother Baba Budan had fallen a little short off the mark for a café with Mark Dundon’s cred behind it. Granted, it was busy that afternoon… and yes, that piccolo was still pretty good… but for me, it didn’t hit the spot..

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BBB, a fortnight later…

Looking back, I certainly have come quite a long way, going from bowlish cups of milky flat whites to the now smaller and punchier servings of piccolos. A good piccolo or magic isn’t easy to make well, so I hold a profound respect for baristas and cafés who can serve up a good one consistently… at any time, and to anyone.

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Fortunately, I revisited the Bros a fortnight later. It’s a different team behind the machines this time, and their coffees tasted better. I grabbed a single origin piccolo (top right) and from the foam cap, you can already tell it’s a much better offering. I could taste the zest behind the bean, with teasing hints in the crema. That’s what I was looking for… PixelAnt’s house blend magic (bottom left) also deliciously hit the spot.

I know I shouldn’t cast judgement on a café just from three visits, but I think BBB usually serves good coffees, but they can occasionally be inconsistent. I’d still come back if I’m in the vicinity as long as I get more hits than misses.

Care to know what I think about Mark Dundon’s other two cafes? Then read —-> Seven Seeds & De Clieu

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