In Italy, espresso is a post-dinner ritual. In the United States, it’s a common to see diner patrons sipping mugs of filter at 2am. In Egypt, in lieu of bars, many go to late-night coffee houses to socialise.

In Australia, there was a period during the 1800s when taverns were replaced by alcohol-free establishments called coffee palaces, but most have since been demolished (or reverted to pubs and hotels).

While Melbourne’s coffee game is strong, we tend to limit consumption to waking hours. But there are a few places to source a sweet cup of late-night joe if you know where to look. Here are 21 spots to get your fix.

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Good Measure, Carlton

Known for its viral dessert-style Montblanc coffee – the team goes through 18 litres of it a week – this cosy Lygon Street spot transitions from cafe to bar Thursdays through Monday. While the cocktails aren’t to be missed, the espresso machine stays running till close as well.

Cathedral Coffee, CBD

A cafe by day and wine bar by night, this spot channels Europe with pate on toast, Baker Bleu croissants and coffee all day. Get it however you like it, but don’t overlook specials like a frothy amaretto, double espresso and soda number.

Pellegrini’s, CBD

The word “iconic” gets thrown around far too often, but if anyone is deserving of the title it’s Pellegrini’s. Head into the coffee bar on the corner of Bourke and Crossley streets – which has gone virtually unchanged since the ’50s – and order yourself an espresso to drink standing up.

Palette at Night, North Melbourne

This Korean cafe is best known for its fluffy, brioche-based breakfast sandwiches. Later in the day, the menu swaps to matcha Basque cheesecake and sweet cheese croffles, but coffee is available until it closes at 11pm.

Dessert Story, CBD

In addition to bowls of silken-tofu pudding and taro-topped grass jelly, this CBD dessert den offers cold Hong Kong-style coffee served strong, sweet and milky.

Chapelli’s, South Yarra

This south-side institution serves food and coffee round the clock on weekends and until 3am on weeknights.

Brunetti, Carlton, CBD and Moonee Ponds

If Melbourne has heritage brands in the food and beverage space, Brunetti is one of them. Truly a mainstay of Carlton’s late-night culture, this Italian cafe has been trading for nearly 40 years. Biscotti and iced coffees until close. Need we say more?

Marios, Fitzroy

Marios has been a Brunswick Street staple since the mid-1980s – and it’s never lost its classic, unpretentious look. Grab yourself a cappuccino and sit at the bar facing the bustling street for a nostalgia trip .

Three Squared Coffee, CBD

If you want something beyond your basic latte and flat white, Three Squared has got it. There are white tea lattes topped with espresso foam, taro lattes, and even avocado and coconut milk lattes, served until 11 each night.

Balha’s Pastry, Brunswick

Known for its house-made Lebanese treats, this late-night spot pulls large crowds after 8pm, with outdoor seating snapped up quickly by groups sitting down to knafeh and coffee.

Vanilla Cakes and Lounge, Oakleigh

This sprawling double-storey cafe serves favourites like espresso freddo (served over ice and topped with cold milk foam) until 11pm every night.

Kaneffi, Windsor

If the kaneffi – semolina dough stuffed with sweet cheese and doused in sugar syrup – doesn’t draw you in, the promise of Lebanese coffee certainly should. It’s available until 11pm on weeknights and 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Desserts by Night, Maribyrnong and Springvale

This spot is all the name implies plus more. The menu ranges from creme brûlée and apple crumble to Vietnamese ché and Filipino halo-halo – and you can also get Desserts by Night’s lesser-known specialty: espresso drinks served, naturally, by night.

Embassy Cafe, West Melbourne

Embassy joins Chapelli’s as one of the city’s few remaining 24-hour eateries. It’s a reliable spot with frothy caps and old-school burgers served around the clock.

Butchers Diner, CBD

The coffee options here slim, with your only choice being a cup of house filter, but isn’t that what you need before heading into Angel Music Bar next door?

Quiet Time, Clifton Hill

Crowds of well-dressed twenty-somethings can be seen spilling into the street clutching glasses of natural wine outside this Clifton Hill venue, but there’s a strong focus on coffee too. With guest DJs and an incredible latte, this place is flying the flag for late-night coffee-shop culture.

Nimbo and Matcha Mate, CBD

One of Melbourne’s most inventive dessert shops, Nimbo has a unique range of late-night treats – coffee included. If you’re after something different, go for the coconut water topped with thick, creamy coffee foam.

Gelato Messina

You’ve been into this Smith Street staple and sampled every flavour, but have you stayed for a flat white? An espresso drink from Messina pairs nicely with a scoop of coffee gelato.

Siglo, CBD

If a cigar and espresso overlooking Parliament House is your ideal nightcap, look no further than Siglo. The rooftop bar may be best known for its cocktails and stogies, but it also serves coffee until 3am Tuesday through Saturday.

Lumen People, North Melbourne

This cafe and wine bar has some serious coffee pedigree, with owners Emma Sheahan and Marichi Clarke having worked across Seven Seeds, Wide Open Road, St Ali and Paramount Coffee Project. Pop in Wednesday through Saturday for a late-night cup of their rotating filter selection.

Sulbing, CBD

Korean bingsu, made from a mound of shaved ice in flavours like yuzu matcha or blueberry cheesecake, is the obvious draw here. But it also serves coffee and specialty lattes (an espresso is shot optional, but recommended) until late in the evening.