I guess if you are the best at what you do, you don’t need to shout about it and that’s what we found when visiting the best boutique coffee houses in Melbourne. They have next to no signage and are a little off the beaten track but are filled to the brim with a mix of young hipsters and savvy coffee lovers from all over the world.
No doubt the International Coffee Expo in Melbourne helped to draw crowds to these boutique coffee establishments, creating an extra buzz, but our experience at Proud Mary was so personal and unique we walked away feeling like we’d had a one of a kind coffee experience.
Al was keen to try the El Roble HR61 pour-over from Colombia, so armed with our coffee map, we eventually found Proud Mary. No sign but a line-up of people outside confirming we were definitely in the right place. Only 18kg of this coffee was produced and Proud Mary bought it all. The pour over cup wasn’t cheap, $30, but a once in a lifetime experience for a coffee aficionado.
Al asked a staff member what filter coffees were on offer and was given an iPad with information about each coffee available. Despite the cafe being crazy busy, once the HR61 was ordered, the staff went out of their way to impart as much information as possible, bringing out the grounds to smell and explain why this coffee was so special.
For non coffee lovers, filter coffee or a pour-over is a great introduction to the delights of this brew. In fact, it is almost like a steeped tea. The complexity of flavour develops the longer the brew sits. It’s a very different way to enjoy coffee, experiencing the real taste without the milk. Check out the video on the Proud Mary homepage. It shows the process of a pour-over and the philosophy behind Proud Mary.
This really was just a coffee visit so unfortunately we didn’t get to experience the breakfast menu, although it did look very good. The meals that were coming out were huge. Of particular interest the smokey spiced black beans, cashew sour cream, corn and mint salsa, coriander pistou, poached egg ($16), the roasted mushrooms, chipotle butter, brioche, whipped goats cheese and a poached egg ($16.50) and the bircher muesli with slow braised rhubarb, burnt orange yoghurt and toasted hazelnuts ($11.50).
With our coffee with enjoyed the espresso brownie and the carrot cake, both moist and delicious.
There is definitely a buzz about Proud Mary or maybe it was the fact that we got to chat with the Italian Barista champion, Francesco Sanapo but either way, I’m pretty sure, even on a quiet day, there would be a certain energy created by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff. It certainly was a fun visit and I’m pretty sure we’ll be back next time we are in Melbourne. A must do for serious coffee lovers.
172 Oxford St, Collingwood