Phil Gijsbers’ French press coffee addiction started when he was 12-years old. His mother would buy coffee from the supermarket and then freeze it, sometimes for months. The first thing Gijsbers did after opening Hard Pressed was raid her freezer and dispose of her icy stash. Now his mother receives small batches of single-origin Axil coffee from her son, who is pleased to report she notices the difference.

Customers can expect a similar awakening. It’s not uncommon for head barista Zachary Balmain (ex-Balmains and ST ALi) to serve patrons a sample of French press, pour-over or cold-drip, so they can try before they buy.

Over in the open kitchen Jay Vanrhee (ex-Seven Seeds and De Clieu) is busy braising, smoking and curing. The salient hero is the El Cubano, a Cuban-style grilled sandwich thick with orange-braised free-range pork neck, Swiss cheese, pickles and Dijon. The Jamaican jerk roast beef and the pickled octopus options are both also worth a mention, along with breakfast dishes such as jamon croquettes with poached eggs, samphire and saffron aioli.

Mimi-Myrtle + Co collaborated with Callum Wallace to create the Tarzan-meets-industrial north-side interior, complete with ferns, pine-green panels and concrete breeze blocks. Reclaimed materials were sourced everywhere from demolished schools to old churches, but Gijsbers especially likes the forest mural feature wall and copper-piping tap that runs from one side of the room to the other.

Pop in before the end of the month and you’ll see the Hard Pressed team is doing their bit for Movember. We even heard a rumour they’re working on a cheese doughnut that can be eaten “all day, every day and in the middle of the night”. Challenge accepted.

Hard Pressed
76 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne
(03) 9417 4441

Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8am–4pm