Look, I’m going to be honest with you. I’m not that into coffee.
I know, I know. Shock, horror — a Melbournite who isn’t obsessed with discussing cafes and beans and temperature and strength. Only a few days ago, while I was sitting in a cafe, I overheard a girl say to her friends, ‘I find it really weird when people don’t drink coffee. I don’t think they’re real humans.’ (That’s a direct quote.)
Dare I say it, it’s just a drink. There. I dared.
Don’t get me wrong. I like coffee. I drink it from time to time. And I do appreciate a good coffee, just as I’d appreciate a nice glass of wine. But in this city, the word ‘like’ often just doesn’t cut it where coffee’s concerned.
Despite my dispassion for this particular beverage, I am partial to cafes, which is handy seeing as this city’s daytime social life exists largely within these little establishments. For me, a good cafe doesn’t only feature good coffee; it’s also got to be a comfy and relaxing environment — a place you can kick back and have a read or a chat without feeling rushed or judged.
So what’s the best cafe in Melbourne? The Age newspaper’s ‘Coffee Army’ recently awarded their ‘best cafe’ gong to Auction Rooms in North Melbourne — a big breezy place that ‘oozes professionalism’, according to the Coffee Army reviewers.
As a former North Melbourne local, I witnessed the grand opening of this cafe back in 2008 and, I’ve got to say, it’s a very pretty place. The large windows at the front disappear completely during the warmer months, so you can sit inside but still breathe fresh air — a lovely feature. Inside, the design is shabby-chic in the classic inner-north Melbourne style — think distressed walls, exposed beams and high ceilings — and, yes, the coffee is generally good.
Good choice for a coffee date? Absolutely. Comfy, relaxing place to come for a leisurely hour of book reading or cross-word solving? Not really.
The place might look nice, the coffee might be great and the food might be quite delish, but, to be frank, this cafe puts me on edge a little bit. The word ‘pretentious’ comes to mind; I suspect the Stuff White People Like guys would go to town on this cafe if they knew about it. And, it’s got to be said, some of the staff here could learn to take themselves a little less seriously. Not sure what it is about ultra-skinny black jeans that makes some people seemingly unable to smile.
A touch of humility wouldn’t go astray at Auction Rooms. Lovely windows, though.
Address: 103–107 Errol St, North Melbourne 3051
Tel: 9326 7749
Damage: $3.80 for coffee, $8 – $18 for breakfast /lunch, $16 – $24 for dinner (a salad will cost you $18 – i.e. not a budget option for food)
Check the website for opening hours.
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