Is there no spot left in inner Melbourne from which coffee is not dispensed? If alleyways, laneways, urban lounge rooms, former laundromats, barber shops, tyre factories and bakeries arent imaginative enough, how about a builders workshop, behind its original roller door?
Matt Millen and his business partners saw the potential in the location near North Melbourne railway station, beside the recently sold Railway Hotel and in an industrial-meets-residential zone.
The renovation was a joint effort, with Millen and friends converting the space into a quirky café in November 2010. With the builders blessing, the team expanded into the workshed beside it late last year.
Initially the space seated just three people, and appealed to passing commuters. Now it boasts two rooms and a courtyard area and theres room for 35.
Theres a strong organic and ethical focus to the coffee and the menu. The organic coffee is good, if not worth crossing town for. My long black was evenly extracted, rich and bright. A short macchiato wasnt as pleasing.
Millen does most of the food himself and says weekday lunches are frantic and the call for his ciabiatta rolls, which include fillings such as parmesan-and-panko-crusted eggplant and chorizo or caponata, manchego and spinach, is constant.
On weekends, the crowd is mostly locals with kids and dogs, who enjoy a sit-down breakfast.
There are four baristas who operate the compact two-group San Marco espresso machine in Roller Doors modest coffee station.
Owner, barista and trainer Matt Millen, ex-Kinfolk Café in Bourke Street, has employed old friend and part-time musician Jim Laurie a couple of days a week. Charlotte Yardley and Lucy Rash, who both worked at Grigons and Orr in North Melbourne, make up the balance of the team. The space only accommodates two staff at a time.
Millen chose the Coffee Supreme organic blend the café serves as its his favourite and the one I wanted to drink every day.
He starts each day with a double espresso or a long black, then tops up with a caffe latte or two.
Millen has worked in bands, trained as a counsellor and says most of his coffee expertise is an assembly of things he picked up along the way.
13 Stawell Street, West Melbourne
0449 208 681
Tuesday-Friday 7am-3pm; Saturday 8am-3pm; Sunday 9am-3pm
Surrounded by offices and factories and away from the city traffic, this low-walled, quaint side-street café opens in three distinct sections. Theres the slick timber and tiled baristas room behind the cafés namesake, where caffeine and conversation are dispensed and Scrabble participants are invited. Theres a quiet room with fresh white walls and tables for newspapers, laptops, colouring books and breakfast plates. Its the most recent addition, with recycled 1970s kitchen chairs, floating timber floors and windows on three sides. Outside, theres an inner-urban garden oasis with graffiti, recycled garden furniture, collectibles, a shady market umbrella and potted plants.