These three cafes couldn’t be more different, so be sure to stop by and savour each distinct coffee and vibe.
Coffee culture reaches new heights in Australia. With cafes spotted roughly every city block, narrowing down a list of three shops in Melbourne’s St. Kilda area was no easy task. Aussies take their coffee seriously — with trained baristas adding their own spin on classic caffeinated beverages such as the latte or cappuccino and perfecting Down Under specialties like the flat white or magic. Not to mention, each café possesses its own distinct vibe. From cool to cosy, nostalgic to modern, these three businesses bring both excellent coffee and memorable café culture.
With a rich history of immigration and multiculturalism, much of the area in and around St. Kilda has been enrichened with a variety of traditions — most prominently, traditions hailing from Eastern Europe.
Enter Monarch Cakes. Founded by a Polish family who moved to Australia in 1931, the shop has been at its Acland location since 1935. Still a family run business, the nostalgic, cutely kitschy shop is crammed with no more than 15 seats — not including the sidewalk patio. Steeped in tradition, the bakery and café’s creations hail primarily from Polish, Austrian, German, Hungarian and Slovakian cultures.
The most notable tasty treat at Monarch is its Polish Cheesecake. Baked from the same recipe as it was in the 1920s, the creamy cake is more than worth the ensuing calories.
Amici Bakery & Café
A farmer’s market certified café and bakery just outside the St. Kilda suburb in Prahran, all of Amici’s pastries, sandwiches and extensive menu are made in-house. The large space is filled with brightly coloured art, plenty of table space and a cosy lounge. Perfect for a quick caffeine hit, lunch with friends or an after-work drink, Amici’s expansive interior looks like the love-child between a European café and an urban cocktail lounge.
While one could opt for a health-conscious smoothie like the Cranberry Cleanser or Bugs Bunny, Amici is also a sugar-fiend’s paradise. Sink your fork and satisfy your cravings with a slice of Black Forest Cake, Tiramisu or a Raspberry Almond Crumble.
Hidden away on St. Kilda’s infamous Grey Street, Dr. Jekyll’s open and inviting space is the ideal setting to nourish your soul with a book and your tastebuds with the shop’s delightful coffee. Owned by a husband and wife team, the pair have accumulated over 40 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Originating as a single frontage shop hosting room for three tables and a large patio, the café’s popularity spurred an expansion next door — opening up the space by 30 seats — and a further expansion enabling the construction of a full kitchen, bar and general store.
With a regularly changing menu, start your morning off with simple crumpets and jam, brunch over sweet waffles or sample a Dr. Jekyll cocktail during the shop’s Sunday evening soirees.
Hungry for more about Australian café culture? Curb your curiosity by reading A Postcard to: Neighbours Café.
Photos and Text by Sarah Comber