As serious cafes go, this slick operation by three-time Australian barista champion Dave Makin, and his partner Zoe (of equal coffee nous), is as impressive as they come.

The cafe is only part of the Axil operation. As well as the CBD esspresso bar and The Petty Officer, a large strip of a former bowling alley has been converted into a raised communal table. And from here, under the glow of powder-coated milk urns-come-light-fittings diners can watch roasters busy at work in the cupping and training room next door.

The crew at Environmental Design STStyle have used a minimalist palette to create a brooding, masculine space with a mix of black walls, highly polished concrete floors, a ceiling lined in corrugated iron and a feature wall of white and green tiles. A wall of metal framework lattice, usually found on construction sites reinforcing concrete slabs, supports a variety of succulents that climb from the bench seating right to the ceiling.

On the breakfast menu you’ll find everything from buttermilk pancakes with chocolate, pear, praline and zabaglione gelato, to a smoked trout wrap with scrambled eggs, avocado & tomato salsa and snow pea tendrils. The lunch menu is equally adventurous, and is complemented by four made-to-order sandwiches.

Finding a name for a cafe is either so self-evident it hurts, or painstakingly deliberated over. The latter can be said for Axil, which was chosen for its botanical meaning – the axil being the point between the upper side of a leaf, and the stem from where it springs.

On a coffee tree it’s here that the flowers grow in clusters. “We wanted to find something that related to where the coffee story begins. It’s important for us to think about where it all comes from, and we wanted to remind people of this,” says Makin.