Ever get a bit tired of the minimal Scando aesthetic so prevalent in Melbourne cafes? Wander through the door of Aucuba Coffee and you’ll be met by Mark Knapp brewing coffee with an impressive range of equipment in front of hypnotic pineapple-patterned wallpaper. It’s a nice change from the usual look.
Natural light and greenery are abundant in this sweet corner cafe. The warmth of the aesthetic blends seamlessly into the friendly style of service. Knapp – a barista, roaster, qualified Q-grader (accredited coffee cupper) and former co-owner of Balderdash cafe – decided to strike out on his own with Aucuba in 2016.
His intention was to bring coffee, food, and great service together in one spot. That’s not a unique goal, sure, but it’s a difficult equation to balance, and one that Aucuba gets right.
The coffee is roasted in-house and served as espresso, pour-over, batch brew, or even syphon (that’s the bubbling contraption with the light under it).
The menu is mostly plant-based, with a minor Japanese influence. Lighter dishes include yoghurt and tapioca pearls with granola, cumquat marmalade and nashi pear ice; and beetroot tartare with sundried tomatoes, avocado, shiso (an Asian herb) and crostini. Then there's a toastie, burger and omelette.