Four Kilo Fish isn’t a fish and chippery, but it’s not surprising that owners Yi Chen and Sijin Yu had to put up a sign explaining that. The name is a play on the pronunciation of Sijin’s name, which sounds a bit like “four kilo fish” in Mandarin.
“It confuses people,” says Yi, laughing. “But then they come in to find out more about the coffee.”
Yi and Sijin met 12 years ago in high school in China and moved to Melbourne together to study marketing and finance respectively. It wasn’t until they were visiting family in Yunnan, China, and a friend suggested that since they were living in Melbourne they must know about coffee, that they considered opening a cafe.
The couple was surprised to learn that the region they grew up in is actually China’s largest coffee producer and they went to visit a family friend’s coffee processing station in Pu’er City, a few kilometres from where Sijin’s family lives.
“We had fruit trees at our house, but we didn’t know [they were coffee trees],” says Yi. “Now almost all of the coffee we use is from our lovely hometown. We source from the farms directly, export and import by ourselves, and roast locally in Melbourne.”
Choose from two espresso blends: one is called The Uprising Blend of Yunnan – a single origin from Yunnan – and the other uses a mix of Yunnan and Peruvian beans, which Yi says is a nice balance for milky coffee. There's also a rotating single origin designed for filter coffee.
In addition to filter and espresso, you can order cold brew, nitro cold brew (infused with nitrogen to give it a creamy froth, a bit like Guinness), a Doppio ‘n’ Tonic (a chilled double espresso shot with tonic water and ice), and Yunnan tea.
“Tea is a big thing in our culture as well. Every household has their own selection,” says Yi. “The younger generation in our hometown drink tea any time of the day, at 11pm we are still drinking tea and talking.”
Try the Yunnan Black with vanilla and peach notes. Or one of two fermented concoctions: Sheng Pu is naturally fermented for a minimum of 10 years and has a peaty flavour, and Shou Pu is fermented just before packaging, and tastes a bit like green tea with a slight plum flavour.
There’s also a pink latte made from Yunnan rose petals (it tastes like Turkish Delight) and no-booze Pina Colada smoothies.
Some of the handmade ceramic cups come from Jingdezhen, a Chinese town known for ceramics, and others are from Loveramics in Hong Kong.
Interior design studio Stella Collective transformed the former cake shop into a light and bright space with a quartz stone counter, wooden floorboards, green leather banquettes and sphere lights with handmade brass cages.
A little archway gives a glimpse into the kitchen where for breakfast, the team is serving double-cheese green omelettes (made with spinach blended, feta and cheddar), and a take on eggs Benedict (poached eggs, thick cut bacon, brioche and hollandaise spiked with a little grapefruit juice).
For lunch, there’s a chimichurri steak bowl with brown rice, avocado and pineapple; and a green tea soba noodle salad with edamame and miso-sesame dressing.
Four Kilo Fish
834 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn
Mon to Fri 7am–5pm
Sat & Sun 8am–4pm