Melbourne’s cafes are recognised around the world, and it’s easy to see why. We have former fine-dining chefs in kitchens, fit-outs from recognisable interior designers and some of the best roasters and baristas there are. And don’t forget the efficient yet friendly service that’s gained attention in New York and many other cities.

The standard is extremely high wherever you look, but Melbourne’s best cafes stand out, regardless of criteria. Their progressive, well-executed menus are edging towards restaurant quality. Their fit-outs are considered and beautiful. And beyond just using locally roasted coffee or roasting it themselves, they understand how to get the best out of their beans across espresso, filter and every other brewing method. Lastly, these all-rounders have the service and ambience to match.

Related pages:
Best Cafes in Fitzroy
Best Coffee in Melbourne
Best Breakfast in Melbourne
Best Boozy Brunch in Melbourne

St Ali

The busy headquarters of a growing coffee empire.

12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne

Hardware Societe Katherine Place

The well-loved laneway institution has expanded beyond brunch. It’s now offering French cocktails, wine on tap and elevated Euro snacks in a 250-square metre space.

10 Katherine Place, Melbourne

Wide Open Road

If only every cafe had this much personality.

274 Barkly Street, Brunswick

Industry Beans

Coffee roasted in a big warehouse with a wide-ranging breakfast menu – you've seen it before, but these brothers do it with notable flair.

Warehouse 3 62 Rose Street, Fitzroy

Axil Coffee Roasters

A cafe and roastery by a couple with serious coffee credentials, including an Australian barista championship.

322 Burwood Road, Hawthorn

Stagger Lee’s

Single origin coffee and tales of cold-blooded murder come together at Proud Mary's second cafe venture.

276 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Seven Seeds

A strong contender for Melbourne's best coffee (with a menu to match).

114 Berkeley Street, Carlton

Liminal

This sea of olive leather, grey velvet and art deco touches is not your everyday foyer cafe. On the menu: French flatbreads you can fold up like a taco, and salads with porchetta or rotisserie chicken.

161 Collins Street, Melbourne

Ascot Food Store

A vibing cafe that puts plenty of effort into its food.

320 Ascot Vale Road, Moonee Ponds

Rudimentary

Sustainability, simplicity and even transportability are the guiding principles of this Footscray cafe.

16-20 Leeds Street, Footscray

Monk Bodhi Dharma

A tiny brick cubby serving up breakfast, lunch and the occasional dinner.

Rear 202 Carlisle Street, Balaclava

Grub Fitzroy

An indoor fish pond and full glass roof make this one of Melbourne's quirkiest venues.

87-89 Moor Street, Fitzroy

Proud Mary

The coffee comes first, but the food’s no bit-player.

172 Oxford Street, Collingwood

Higher Ground

The team behind Kettle Black and Top Paddock go beyond cafes with this CBD spot inspired by hotel hospitality.

650 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne