In Melbourne, it’s not entirely novel to find small cafes inside functioning (or former) laundromats. But – typically – they’re not esteemed for their coffee.
Two Snakes wants to change that tide. Located inside a Soap Bar Launderette outlet on Elgin Street, the tiny cafe is a qualified addition to Carlton’s coffee scene.
Former Toby’s Estate coffee roaster (and green-bean buyer) Billy Ballard, along with his partner Mia Harangozo, are behind the operation. Collectively, they’ve spent years studying coffee around the world before bringing their learnings to Two Snakes.
“Mia and I ended up becoming close with [Toby’s Estate owner] Toby Smith, who owns a farm in Panama,” says Ballard. “We went over there and lived for a few months and worked on the farm and did a lot of buying through Colombia and Costa Rica.”
Prior to that, Ballard worked on and visited farms across Asia, Africa and the Americas as he made his way up the ranks at Toby’s Estate. But after the pandemic hit, the couple returned to Australia, spending about a year in Merimbula plotting their next move before heading to Melbourne to open the cafe.
Though it’s essentially a coffee window, there’s plenty of seating between the laundromat’s indoor benches, front tables and back courtyard – perfect for catching the afternoon sun.
Here, you’ll find an array of baked goods that might include vegan banana bread, chocolate-chip cookies and homemade Monte Carlo biscuits with raspberry jam. There is also a handful of beautifully messy made-to-order sandwiches – hoisin chicken, pastrami, salad and a tuna melt, served either on Dench sourdough or Italian-style white bread.
But, of course, the coffee is the true pull. Alongside traditional espresso-based beverages, you’ll find more specialty drinks such as Colombian iced filter made from beans fermented using wine techniques. “This one’s called ‘carbonic maceration’,” says Ballard. “They’re able to slowly monitor how much fruit is infused into the seed. It brings out so much chocolate flavour.”
For standard coffees, Ballard uses beans from the Queensland-based Paradox Coffee Roasters, owned by another Toby’s Estate employee, Paul Golding. “He was the green-bean buyer at Toby’s before me,” says Ballard. Down the track, though, his plan is to start roasting his own house blends.
63 Elgin Street, Carlton
Mon to Fri 6.30am–3.30pm
Sat & Sun 7.30am–3pm