MALING ROOM CAFE (corner Maling Rd and Canterbury Rd)
This old Post Office style building on the corner of Canterbury Road and a bustling little shopping strip on Maling Road, contains some of the best coffee in Melbourne. This open plan building has high ceilings and a spacious table arrangement allowing for a comfortable environment to spread out on one of the communal tables and read the paper, or just enjoy time with family or friends. A small selection of food and cake are available, but are definitely not the revenue earners in this business.
I had heard a lot of good things about this cafe recently, and thus had very high expectations before I walked in. As I took the first sip of my latte, I was confused. There was an orgy of flavours that were, in my view, potent and complex enough on their own, if allowed the time and space to complete their journey. It was a case of ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. It started off well with a creamy, nutty tone not dissimilar from Batch Espresso’s ‘Coffee Supreme’ blend, but this was soon banished from my palate by an unpleasant sourness that had an immediate drying effect on the mouth. In a quest for clarity, I immediately took another sip and found the same dizzying platforms of non-compliant flavours, again teasing my palate. I asked the waitress what blend they were using, and she told me that it was an Atomica blend called ‘Dark Blend’. I went inside to have a chat with the barista, and found out that the blend I just drank had 8 different beans in it. This explained my confusion. Andrew Lew, espresso executive, as he titled himself, understood my concern with that particular blend and made me another latte using a bottomless group handle, which to my surprise completely altered the taste of the coffee. To my delight, the flavour profile was simplified, and the coffee at Maling Room was finally living up to my high expectations. These guys stock a few different blends of coffee, some roasted by South Melbourne’s St. Ali and some roasted by Atomica Cafe/Roastery on Brunswick Street. While I was there, I tried the Ethiopian Sidamo coffee, which packed a real punch for a single origin coffee, and Australia’s own Mountain Top coffee, which really had a flavour of its own, but Andrew expressed his concern about it, stating that it was a bit volatile in terms of consistency in taste.
I ended up standing next to the extremely impressive Synesso Cyncra espresso machine, with Andrew for at least half an hour, just talking and tasting coffee. This guy had all the time in the world for me and he didn’t even know I was a reviewer until I left. So if you have an interest in coffee, and would like to talk to someone that shares this passion, go and have a chat with Andrew Lew.
I give it 2.5 beans…