Melbourne’s Secret Coffee Spots

This year, Fakegf and I embarked on a mission to uncover some of the secret coffee spots in Melbourne’s CBD. It took awhile, simply because we both don’t work in the city. But over the past 7 months, we’ve charted a hidden coffee trail of sorts and for the most part, I just relied on my phone camera to snap my photos so as to remain as anonymous as the cafes.

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots
Windowsill, at Patricia Coffee Brewers (Instagram snap)

The cafés and brew bars that qualified had to be difficult to find or be at quirky locations. They’re often tucked into a laneway off another laneway, or are so unmarked that you’d walk right past it without knowing. Finding these cafes usually involved some backtracking and map referencing, it was really fun!

Our second requirement was how the coffees served had to be of a certain standard, and I’m glad to say that most were pretty good. And guess what? Fakegf has hand-drawn a coffee trail map, complete with footprints! Ha ha ha!

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

I hope you’ll enjoy our Melbourne CBD hidden coffee trail. Special thanks to Lachy, who gave me most of the venue suggestions in this post, and to Fakegf, who joined me in uncovering all of these spots.

Also, someone who loved this post has created a Foursquare Map based on it, you may find that useful when navigating.

Cup of Truth

12 Campbell Arcade
Degraves St Subway
Melbourne, VIC 3000
cupoftruth.com.au
GoogleMap
Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

There’s a secret inside Flinders St station…

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

And no, it isn’t this!

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

How do you get to this secret place?

Well, first get to Degraves St and find Grill’d burgers. Opposite Grill’d lies the entrance to the subway arcade. Our hidden coffee spot is in that arcade below.

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

On first pass, Fakegf and I walked right past the coffee stand without noticing it. We backtracked, then saw the words “Where Do You Look For The Truth?”.

Aha… found ya!

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Beans are from Axil Coffee Roasters, a sleek Synesso machine to work with, and Jonesy’s milk to finish the song. We grabbed two piccolos and sat on a subway bench to enjoy them. My houseblend was quite simply delicious, as was Fakegf’s single origin Rwandan Musasa, which had hints of stewed apricot, giving an almost perfumed sweetness to the drink!

What a surprise find… great coffee in the bowels of one of Melbourne’s oldest railway stations…

De Alleyway Espresso

Shop 1A
318-322 Little Collins St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Facebook Page
GoogleMap
Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Once again, we walked up and down Little Collins St before we found the correct arcade where De Alleyway resides.
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Melbournes Secret Coffee SpotsMelbournes Secret Coffee Spots

On the lead-up, we saw astroturf, checkered floors, red stools and street art scrawled on walls.

Better yet, we learnt that the beans are from The Maling Room, a roastery that we approve of. Fakegf’s South African Nyeri Kyjiji piccolo was full of fruity leafy acidity, just gorgeous. I went with Honduras Barrios Estate, which came robust and chocolatey. In retrospect, we should’ve swapped drinks. Fakegf likes strong robust coffees, while I really love the bright botanical fruitiness of African beans.

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

De Alleyway is manned by two friendly dudes, David and Nick. David does the cakes while Nick mans the Synesso machine. I’m quite happy to have found this place, now I know where to go when I want to buy Maling Room beans!

Eclipse Coffee

7A/495 Collins St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9629 7703
eclipsecoffee.com.au
GoogleMap
Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Technically, I shouldn’t include this cafe in the list, it’s located on a main road. Collins St, in fact.

But how many of you know of this place? There’s aren’t signages at all, just dark glass doors against a red-bricked building, and an endless stream of CBD power suits walking in and out.

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

But enter those doors and you’d find yourself in an oasis of coffee seriousness. The suited up crowd sit on on wood tables, which are littered with copies of Financial Review and The Age Business Section.
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Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots
COD Kenya Mukangu 4.2 | Eclipse blend (by Veneziano) 3.5

Not that I was bothered by the important looking patrons. Once we got into the business of our coffees, I was kinda dancing in the clouds!

Even with a blocked nose that morning, I detected hints of spice in my Kenyan piccolo, it tasted sweet with a butterscotchy finish. Delicious! Fakegf’s Eclipse blend magic was well made too, with berry hints in its crema.

Little Bean Blue

15 Little Collins St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9650 0046
littlebeanblue.com.au
GoogleMap
Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

On to our next charming find. This brew bar borders on not qualifying as ‘hidden’ because it sits right on Little Collins St. But I decided to include it because it’s located at the outskirts of the CBD, the entrance was a little bit recessed, and their coffees were good.

Melbournes Secret Coffee SpotsMelbournes Secret Coffee Spots

It’s a narrow but inviting space, and the coffee machine’s one that I’ve never laid eyes on before – a custom La Marzocco Mistral. While the beans are sourced from Veneziano and Proud Mary, they’re hand roasted by the crew themselves.

Fakegf’s house blend magic was rich with bubble gum and cherry hints, with quite an astringent bite. My Costa Rican (San Juanillo) piccolo was smooth with a sharp acidity of blueberries. They were nice coffees to have along with sweets.

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Sometimes I wish I have better caffeine tolerance, then I can down more than two hits of coffee a day. I love coffee, but am also sensitive to caffeine!

Little Wish

Shop 10
530 Little Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9621 1013
www.littlewish.com.au
GoogleMap
Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Now here’s a truly hidden brew bar. To get there, you have to go right through the building into the back alleyway. I can’t explain it any further, but the GoogleMap link provided above might give you a better idea of where to head towards.

Fakegf’s skinny magic had a fresh zing with dark berry hints, but she thought it was on the thin side. My piccolo came full bodied with nice notes of dark chocolate. Love the cute dainty spoons provided.

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

I really love Little Wish’s location. It isn’t overly hyped, and you are incredibly unlikely to stumble upon this place unless you actually set out to look for it.

Patricia Coffee Brewers

Cnr Little Bourke & Little William St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
patriciacoffee.com.au
GoogleMap
Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Patricia fully qualifies as a hidden brew bar in terms of location and unmarked entrances. But anybody who’s into coffee would already know about this place. Still, I think this place deserves inclusion simply because the coffees are delicious!

It’s on Little William St, really close to EARL Canteen and Pacos Tacos. Before visiting Patricia, I never knew a Little William St existed!

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

And if you’re drinking in the bar, you get a glass of sparkling to help cleanse the palate.

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Fakegf had a chocolatey Seven Seeds magic while I had a fruity Proud Mary Ghost Rider piccolo. Both coffees were smooth, fresh, and absolutely hit the spot!

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

I love the stark windowsills overlooking a nondescript laneway, such a Melbourne thing… Patricia also uses beans from my favourite roasters: Proud Mary, Seven Seeds, Market Lane and Small Batch. Too easy to come back!

Dancing Goat

Shop 4 280 King St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9670 4002
GoogleMap
Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

I came here with the intention of making it a brunch post, hence the non-Instagram snaps. The cafe was awarded two cups in 2012’s The Age Good Cafe Guide, but I found the menu mainly covered just sandwiches and jaffles.

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots
Jaffle with egg, spinach & mushroom $5

However, the coffees were well made, and with its rather isolated location in Melbourne CBD’s west end, I think Dancing Goat deserves inclusion here.

Melbournes Secret Coffee SpotsMelbournes Secret Coffee Spots
Honduras ‘El Naranjo’ piccolo | Seven Seeds piccolo

I couldn’t taste much notes in our coffees (from Seven Seeds), but they were smooth and delicious enough.

PS: For those of you who enjoy Seven Seeds coffee, don’t forget Brother Baba Budan on Little Bourke St, another hidden(ish) brew bar that I’ve already blogged about previously.

PPS: The next final two cafés in this list have been included as honourable mentions. The coffees are of the old-school, harsher style (as piccolos anyway) and they weren’t that enjoyable to our palates. However, their quirky, hidden locations makes them worth mentioning as part of Melbourne’s secret coffee world.

Switchboard Cafe

11 & 12 Manchester Unity Arcade
220 Collins St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
GoogleMap
Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Melbournes Secret Coffee SpotsMelbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Fakegf and I were so excited when we found this place. We got there by walking right through Manchester Unity Arcade from its Collins St entrance, and then bearing left when we reached the elevators.

Melbournes Secret Coffee SpotsMelbournes Secret Coffee Spots

The coffee stand is literally a hole-in-the-wall, with barely enough space to house the La Marzocco machine. But what’s cuter still is the narrow alcove-like nook opposite where you can sit and have your coffees. The Coffee Supreme piccolo we had was very strong, almost like a macchiato.

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

There’s more seating in Howeys Place right next to Switchboard. It’s quite thrilling to know that such hidden places can be found right in the heart of the CBD, near Swanston St.

T’Roy Browns

Vault 1 Banana Alley, Flinders St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Facebook Page
GoogleMap
Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

We’ll end this post near where we began, near Flinders St station… in Banana Alley Vaults and right next to the 24 hr gym located under the railway.

It’s a somewhat iconic hole-in-the-wall coffee stand that’s been around for a long time. I’ve walked past this area so many times but never noticed there’s a coffee stop here until I actively searched it out.

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

Coffees (by Atomica) at T’Roy were very very strong, punchy and astringent when they’re taken as piccolos. Again not unlike a macchiato. A decent place if you like your coffees strong. I hear all shots the friendly guy pulls are made as double ristrettos.

Melbournes Secret Coffee Spots

This spot marked the perfect end point for our hidden coffee discovery trail…

Out in the open… at a coffee stand that you’d never knew existed. Feeling the relaxed pulse of Melbourne on a work day… and knowing that home is but a happy stroll away.