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…

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4 Responses to “MALING ROOM CAFE”

  1. MV says:

    I have been to Maling Room a few times now (not a regular). The coffee has been good everytime but today’s visit topped it off as I had the house blend was near perfect! I had to have 2 coffees back to back just from the amazement.

    I decided to buy a pack of beans home, hoping to find the same perfection at home.

    Great jobs guys – keep it up!

  2. Maling Room Ride (MRR) Cycling Fanatics says:

    Hey… we have been drinking your coffee almost daily for almost 2 years now, and it is still probably the most consistent high quality coffee in Melbourne… Now we are a fussy lot, and to be fair, we have some opinionated riders in our group, who are not backward in coming forward about the taste and quality of coffee and service!

    Summary? The coffee remains superb and we keep returning each morning. Service is quick and efficient, and now seems to be done with a smile!

    Keep up the work guys…..

  3. Paul says:

    Will definately be giving this place a try as i live not to far away and i’m hanging to see what an almost 3 beaner is like:)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hey Andy
    Thanks for the review. We are currently developing our new blend and hopefully will have it running at the Maling Room in the coming weeks. We have been sourcing out single origins for the last 4 months trying to get it right.
    Trying to run a business, plus great coffee isnt an easy task. Many people are just baristi, but we are business owners, baristi, chefs, cleaners, waiters, account managers, repair man, dishwashers and we dont work 5 days a week. We work 12-16 hour 7 days a weeks and some months you dont even get paid!! What the hell i havent been paid for a year now. Being just a barista? Easy.

    I welcome anyone to work under my team and under those conditions.

    I do take time with any of my customers that want to learn. I have helped so many people to become baristi and set up their cafes without charging a single dollar. I think thats what coffee is about. Sharing your knowledge and not being afraid of doing it.

    I just wanted to point out the dangers of becoming a reviewer. It is easy to point out the flaws. Understanding coffee is not about pointing out what is wrong, or who is the best. I didnt get my reputation from making the best coffee. I have helped, shared my knowledge and develop a following.

    Man my shot on the naked sucked!!!

    Andrew Lew