Lunch in Melbourne CBD can be difficult to navigate for a visitor. The city makes you work to find its treasures. It is well known for hiding bars down maze-like laneways for example. Sometimes, I find it is like an expedition to wade through the high street past cookie cutter cafés to unearth a cosy corner for a tasty treat. However, there are plenty of them lurking under the skin of the city you just have to know where to look.
Melbournites in general are a relatively laid back bunch, however, when it comes to coffee they don’t mess around. Coffee even has its own language here; long black (americano), flat white (latte), short mac (Macchiato).
The Haralambopoulos brothers have managed to dig out quite a reputation in the cities fiercely competitive café climate. They have deservedly garnered some media attention and managed to get a small mention in ‘The Age Good Café Guide 2011’ (the equivalent of a Zagats guide for Melbournites) as well as an article in the Herald Sun. It also is home to a boutique specialty roasters Gridlock Coffee.
On the menu are yummy ciabattas, vegie falafel, numerous breakfast dishes, hot pork belly baguettes with grated apple, coleslaw and coriander as well as a selection of roast meat sandwiches. The stained glass, giant red enamelled roaster and tiled floor all add to the homely atmosphere.
The buzzing baristas are literally world-class. On my visit one of the brothers actually popped out from his station to inquire about the choice of roasted bean we desired, looking at our blank and confused expressions (lack of coffee) went on to briefly suggest the ‘Ethiopian’ and explain the nuances of its flavour. He then presented us with the cup, for a whiff of its caffeine infused aroma for inspection before placing the take away lid on top. It’s all about the love of coffee here.
Latte Art is quite a delicate and skilled craft. The idea is to create patterns from the frothy milk and coffee. It takes a lot of practice, precise coffee extraction and a very steady hand. Con Haralambopoulos has reached the top of his profession earning the title of World Latte Art Champion 2008 and Australian Fair Trade Latte Art Champion 2009 as well as World Espresso Champion 2006. This year The Coffee Guide has also awarded the café the ‘god shot’ award – ‘divine inspiration in espresso form’ and gridlock coffee was given a 5 bean rating.
As to the name, 65 degrees does not refer to latitude, longitude or angle. It is the optimum temperature milk is heated to for making coffee.
Have you been here? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts?
65 Degrees Cafe
309 Exhibition Street. Melbourne, Vic 3000
Ph. +61 (03) 9662 1080
Opens Mon-Fri 06.00-16.00 (food served until 15:00)
price: $10.40 AUS – 2 long blacks and an apple & cinnamon muffin