When I sit down for brunch with Axil Coffee Roasters co-owner Megan Evans at the newest Axil outpost, we spend a bit of time trying to remember how many venues the coffee empire has.
“This is our eighth, I think?” Evans says. “I sometimes forget about some of the smaller espresso bars.”
The confusion is understandable. In the eight years since husband and wife team Dave and Zoe Makin opened the first Axil in Hawthorn, they’ve steadily expanded, and staff such as Evans have bought into the business. There’s now an Axil in Glenferrie, one at Chadstone, and a handful of smaller espresso bars in the city centre.
The latest, at the Southern Cross Station end of Bourke Street, is the first in the CBD to operate with a full brunch menu. Ravi Patel and Ryan Mowat, also co-owners, are in-charge of its day-to-day operations; Patel (previously at the Axil Hawthorn branch) heads the kitchen and Mowat looks after front-of-house.
“This menu is definitely more geared towards faster, healthier options that you can eat every single day,” says Evans of Patel’s dishes, which are designed for office workers on their lunch breaks. “But of course, we've still got pancakes in there.”
Healthy pick-me-ups include the goodness bowl, a generous serve of barley with haloumi, avocado, asparagus, kale, pickled cabbage and beetroot hummus topped with a soft-boiled egg. Sweeter and more indulgent is that stack of buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote, citrus curd, caramelised white chocolate crumb and vanilla ice-cream. A crowd favourite carried over from other Axil kitchens is baked eggs with spicy peperonata (red capsicum slow-cooked with garlic, onion and olive oil), dukkah and Meredith feta with pumpkin grain toast.
And it wouldn’t be Axil without the same care for coffee and attention to the process that made the original a Melbourne favourite. It’s under the direction of head roaster and buyer Matthew Crowley, who’s been with Axil for nearly eight years. “He’s an absolute wizard for all things coffee,” Evans says. “He travels to origin multiple times a year and personally selects every single coffee that lands in our warehouse.”
Alongside lattes and cappuccinos there’s batch brew, cold drip and other specialties. The long-black spritzer is an iced long black over tonic water, and the New Orleans cold brew uses coffee steeped for 24 hours, infused with chicory root and maple syrup, and served with milk on ice.
The slick but inviting fit-out is by Prahran firm St Style. Evans says the brief was for a “one-hour escape from your desk”. Grab a seat in one of the booths, pull up a stool at the bar or sit out in the lobby. There are hints of pastel teal on the seats and upholstery throughout, and warm lighting to soften cool, grey concrete walls. A mix of real and faux greenery brings more life into the space, and hanging globes keep everything light and airy. There’s also an espresso bar at the building’s front door for those short on time.
The team plans to expand even further soon, with a new branch at Melbourne Airport on the cards.
Axil Coffee Roasters Bourke Street
565 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm