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

Calere

Cafe

A tiny daytime coffee nook, using beans from one of Australia's best roasters.

166 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

St Ali

Cafe

The busy headquarters of a growing coffee empire.

12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne

Hardware Societe Katherine Place

Cafe

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

Ona Coffee

Cafe

This Canberra-based coffee roaster has made a real name for itself on the east coast. Visit this outpost and you’ll understand why. At any time, there are at least 20 outstanding coffees listed on its “freezer menu”.

22 Ovens Street, Brunswick

Wide Open Road

Cafe

Even though it opened back in 2009, this cafe and roastery is still one of the most popular cafes in Brunswick. The interiors are spacious, with comfortable chairs and cosy booths. And the food is adventurous, but it won't veer too far away from anyone's comfort zones. The coffee is, predictably, excellent.

274 Barkly Street, Brunswick

Industry Beans

Cafe

A white, bright successor to the famed roastery’s old flagship site down the street. Single origins and ground-breaking brunches still reign supreme, in a skylit warehouse splashed with greenery.

Warehouse 3 70-76 Westgarth Street, Fitzroy

Axil Coffee Roasters

Cafe

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

322 Burwood Road, Hawthorn

Stagger Lee’s

Cafe

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

276 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Seven Seeds

Cafe

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

114 Berkeley Street, Carlton

Liminal

Cafe

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 and Wine

Restaurant

A vibing all-day bistro that puts plenty of effort into its food, with tasty – and very European – results. Paired with an excellent curation of wines, this former cafe is now the sleek, suburban go-to it always wanted to be.

320 Ascot Vale Road, Moonee Ponds
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Rudimentary

Cafe

Sustainability, simplicity and even transportability are the guiding principles of this Footscray cafe. On the menu you'll find Asian-inflected classic brunch dishes, with a strong roster of single origin coffees to choose from to drink.

16-20 Leeds Street, Footscray

Plug Nickel

Cafe

Less a cafe, and more a flying pitstop for first-class coffee and simple food.

7 Peel Street, Collingwood

Monk Bodhi Dharma

Cafe

A tiny brick cubby serving up breakfast, lunch and the occasional dinner. The menu here is completely vegetarian and no eggs are used, too. If you think it's not brunch without eggs, then think again – after a couple of bites of whatever you've ordered, you won't even know they're gone.

Rear 202 Carlisle Street, Balaclava

Proud Mary

Cafe

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

172 Oxford Street, Collingwood

Higher Ground

Cafe

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

650 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne