Melbourne’s beautiful cafe culture wouldn’t exist if not for the Greek and Italian immigrants who brought their then-controversial espresso machines and footpath seating here after World War II. How great, then, to see a third-generation cafe owner carefully tending the flame originally lit by his grandparents in 1976.
Jon Pandolean’s parents took over Laikon Deli in 1981, the same year he was born. Now, after ten years at the controls, he’s expanded to next door and revamped the business for contemporary tastes. Most of it, anyway. The deli counter is largely unchanged. Stop in for a wealth of cheeses, truffled salami and baguettes packed with roast beef or chicken, almonds and chives. Laikon’s feta and olives, meanwhile, have been coming from the same Greek supplier since ’76. And see that rail in the front window with smallgoods suspended from it? It’s been there since the beginning.
Sit in and you’ll see what’s changed for the better. Coffee is now being brewed on a shiny white La Marzocco, for one. And while Pandolean’s mum’s original semolina cakes, baklava and bougatsa (a vanilla-custard pie paired with apple-and-rhubarb compote) are still available, they’re joined by new-fangled dishes such as baklava porridge and a bolognaise jaffle with béchamel and parmesan.
On the topic of longstanding businesses, we reckon Cibi has a reasonable shot at going multi-generational. Husband and wife Zenta and Meg Tanaka opened their Japanese cafe in 2008, at a time when Collingwood had roughly zero places serving the kind of food and coffee we take for granted now.
Late last year they moved the business to a 1000-square-metre, 60-year-old former clothing factory, which is quadruple the size of their former site. It’s now home to a gaggle of mismatched seating (we’re quite fond of the mid-century church pew-looking bench near the entrance) and a vast array of tasteful homewares.
Stop by for a hearty breakfast of grilled salmon, tamagoyaki (a layered and rolled omelette), greens, rice and miso soup – a signature dish that made the trip from Cibi 1.0. Or maybe you’d be more partial to a vegetable curry or chicken soboro bowl with minced chicken and greens?
Belly full, take your time wandering the widely spaced tables of kitchenware and other things you probably don’t need but definitely want. There are ceramics, glasses, utensils and for the real fans, Cibi T-shirts and caps. Imagine how much cred they might confer 30 years' from now, when the Tanakas’ grandchildren are running the show.
33–39 Keele Street, Collingwood
(03) 9077 3941
Mon to Fri 7am–5pm
Sat & Sun 8am–5pm
That phrase up the top of this page – “excelling at the familiar” – wasn’t written specifically with Everyday Coffee in mind, but it could have been. Since Mark Free and Aaron Maxwell (both former Seven Seeds employees) started this spot in 2013, they’ve gotten better and better at what they do.
Everyday doesn’t do much. There’s consistent coffee (espresso, filter, iced, yada yada), a brief edit of baked goods from sister business All Are Welcome, and other basic no-cook items such as granola or muesli. It’s a coffee shop, pure and simple. But within this very limited format, the duo’s perseverance – and admittedly, an ineffable X factor – has kept Everyday at the front of the pack in one of Melbourne’s most competitive coffee neighbourhoods.
In the beginning, Everyday rotated the best beans from the best roasters. After a while, that wasn’t enough and the team started roasting its own coffee. Now Free and Maxwell finally have their own roasting machine. It’s parked solidly inside the warehouse Everyday moved to last year after outgrowing its original home, 150 metres away. The new site is still in “pop-up” phase, with a proper fit-out to follow. Watch this space – literally.
36–38 Sackville Street, Collingwood
(03) 9973 4159
This story originally appeared in Melbourne Print Issue 25.