Handcraft Specialty Coffee comes to Newtown courtesy of John Lee, (The Source Espresso Bar, Dose Espresso), and his wife Monica, who heads up the compact but efficient kitchen. The menu is short but does the trick. It offers lovingly crafted, modest fare to busy commuters and laid-back locals alike.
Try the fried free-range eggs with spiced, slow-cooked Barossa bacon, or perhaps a simple sandwich of double-smoked ham, McClure’s pickle (specially ordered in from Detroit), Warrnambool cheddar and fresh tomato on Swiss bakery Hiestand bread.
There are broader cultural influences on the menu too. The Pastel is a savoury Brazilian fried pastry served with ketchup and chilli sauce inspired by Monica’s childhood in Brazil. John recommends the Korean-American kimchi dog, a bun-less American-style sausage, deep fried in a crunchy batter layered with homemade kimchi, caramelised onions and shaved cheddar with a side of fries.
On the sweeter side, there are pastries from Hiestand and salted chocolate cookies from Luke Avenue. Try milkshakes such as Belgian chocolate, Madagascan vanilla or pecan and salted caramel.
The design of the space was a passion project for Monica and John, with many of the features hand selected. The result is a minimalist design with a homey, welcoming feel. Details such as the Laguiole cutlery are a nice touch, and in the colder months, blankets are neatly folded by the outdoor settings.
Unsurprisingly, the coffee here is serious business. John favours St. ALi’s Sensory Lab Steadfast blend for milk-based coffees. He hand picks a different blend each week for black and filter varieties. Melbourne varieties have been popular, such as Proud Mary or Market Lane. Regardless of the blend, each and every grind is scaled, (measured for consistency), with great care taken to ensure every cup is perfect. For the less coffee-inclined, Handcraft also serves organic tea by Larsen & Thompson.