Coffee is a way of life in Melbourne. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked if I’ll ever be able to drink coffee elsewhere in the world. Now that you’ve had the world’s greatest coffee, how will you go back? Or some variation of the like.
Tell you what, coffee here is good. Would I say it’s the best coffee in the world? Nope. Though, to be fair, I wouldn’t say anywhere in the world has the best coffee. Well… Hanoi, Vietnam is certainly a top contender with the incredible egg coffee from Giang Cafe. Truly though, I think you can get delicious coffee all over the world.
But Melbourne has the most consistently good coffee I’ve had of all the cities in all of the countries (33 and counting!) that I’ve visited. You can go into almost any coffee shop (of which there are plenty in Melbourne) and have a delicious cup of Joe. I’ve been to many a café in this great city, especially in my stomping grounds (no pun intended) in the northern suburbs. It can be a bit overwhelming to decide where to go, so I’ve put together a list of my favorite cafés in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. I’ve taken the ambience of the café, availability of food and prices of the food and beverage items into consideration when choosing my favorite spots, since they all have delicious cups of coffee.
How do you like yours? Cappuccino, latte, espresso, flat white? I’m a latte girl myself.
(843 High St, Thornbury VIC 3071)
Northern Soul is my favorite café in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. It is a lovely, tranquil spot with delicious food, tasty coffee and friendly staff. The front room of the café is warmly lit and well laid out. It is a comfortable spot with enough space between tables.
But the true treasure of this place is the courtyard. It is beautiful. The area is a lush oasis in the busy city. It is set back far enough from High Street so you can’t hear any of the traffic—trams, cars, bicyclists or pedestrian. The courtyard offers a peaceful escape, and you will quickly forget that you are in a bustling area.
Basic coffees cost about $3.70. Breakfast is served all day, and lunch and dinner are offered later as well. Meals cost about $13 on average. Northern Soul has a nice selection of food, including toast, pancakes and porridge for breakfast as well as curries, burgers and pies for lunch and dinner. Free wifi is available, but isn’t the strongest signal.
Monday-Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
(115 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC 3056)
Green Refectory is a bit of a labyrinth, which lends to its charm. The café has a few different seating areas, including a long outdoor section. The furniture is a funky collection of tables and chairs, and a few chandeliers help light up the café. Green Refectory has a comfortable ambience that feels a bit like having a meal at a friend’s home… a very busy house with several people coming in and out throughout the day.
It’s the food that really makes Green Refectory stand out. The front counter is filled with a variety of options: cakes, pavlova, croissants, pies, salads, sandwiches and so much more. And there is a comprehensive menu—written in chalk on the blackboards behind the counter—for all day breakfast as well as lunch and dinner items. Basic coffees are $3.30 and meals average about $11. Green Refectory easily has the largest selection of food from the cafés on this list. Wifi is not available.
Weekdays: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Kitchen closes at 7:30 p.m
Weekends: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Kitchen closes at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday
(114 Miller St, Preston VIC 3072)
Pearl Oyster has a funky vibe and a great layout. There are tables outside the front of the café if you like to people watch. Alternatively, you can sit inside near the kitchen or in another room. Or, if you would like a more serene environment, head to the courtyard in the back. I prefer sitting in the courtyard, because it is a lovely area with a variety of plants and a cheerful aura.
The staff at Pearl Oyster is great. They are friendly, efficient and helpful. I always have a good experience when I visit the café. And Pearl Oyster is very family friendly. They have a few books and toys available for use to help keep little ones entertained.
One of my favorite things to order is the toast party, which is best consumed with a friend or partner. You get six pieces of toast (gluten free options are available) and a large variety of sides, including rose honey, peanut butter, Vegemite, hummus, avocado, tomatoes and more. It is an incredible spread, and very filling for two people. But be sure to check out the specials menu to see what they are whipping up for the day. Basic coffees are $3.50. Breakfast is available all day and lunch items have an Asian flair. Meals run about $13 on average. Pearl Oyster has free wifi with a very strong signal.
Monday-Saturday: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(68 High St, Northcote VIC 3070)
Gypsy Hideout is another café with outdoor seating in the front and back of the shop as well as seating inside. The interior section of the café is simple and clean with minimal decoration. The kitchen is out in the open behind the counter, which allows you to see your food as it’s being created.
I really love the back courtyard at the café. It is small, but quaint. Umbrellas and a covered terrace offer plenty of shade, but little protection from rain. It’s another peaceful spot to relax and enjoy a meal and coffee. Breakfast is mostly eggs and toast prepared in a number of different styles. Lunch has a Mediterranean influence. Basic coffees are $3.50, and meals cost about $16 on average. Wifi is not available at Gypsy Hideout.
Weekdays: 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Weekends: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(850 High Street, Thornbury VIC 3071)
Little Henri is a fairly large café with a large selection of food. They offer simple, basic meals as well as higher-end gourmet dishes. You can go in with any budget and find something that you’ll be happy to indulge in. The interior of Little Henri is cozy and spacious.
The back courtyard has several potted plants and trees, which bring color and life into the place. There is a covered terrace section and an open section with umbrellas for the tables. The courtyard suffers from a bit of noise pollution because of its proximity to a busy intersection, so it isn’t quite as serene of an environment as some of the other cafés on this list. But the large wall of potted plants help bring in a peaceful quality.
Basic coffees are $4 and food prices vary widely. There is no wifi available at the café.
Monday-Thursday: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday: 7 a.m. to Close
Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to Close
Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.