Axil Coffee Roasters in Melbourne’s Southern Cross Lane serves Axil’s trademark specialty take on espresso coffee, batch brews of single origin filter roasts and a snacky menu of jaffles, pastries, cronuts and donuts.
Melbourne’s specialty coffee barons have mostly settled for brew bars and bolt-holes in the actual city. Seven Seeds has Brother Baba Budan and Traveller, two tiny but hip places to drink great coffee. St Ali operates Sensory Lab, Tom Thumb and a pop-up or two. Small Batch Roasting Co installed their Filter pop-up in the ground floor of a temporarily abandoned office block. And Axil Coffee Roasters has, well, Axil Coffee Roasters, a standing-room-only coffee bar in Flinders Lane.
Now Axil has brought the full inner-Melbourne coffeehouse experience to the city itself gone a step further in Southern Cross Lane, which is really an outdoor food court between a couple of glass office towers in the middle of Melbourne’s government admin district, with a consequent high concentration of open-neck shirts and departmental lanyards in the coffee queues.
The long space behind the redeveloped Southern Cross building features table seating (note: with table service), a cute wall mural and a long timber bar bearing two La Marzocco Linea PBs customised by Melbourne’s Specht Design.
Coffee comes as Axil’s seasonal blend plus changing single origins, either as espresso or a cup of batch brew. A Colombia Las Lejanias single origin sets a high bar for future Fetco brews at Axil, with heaps of crisp, tangy red berry fruit. It’s vibrant, juicy and full-flavoured. Axil scores bonus points for serving filter coffee in proper ceramic cups, not glass.
In a short black all that fruit is concentrated into a bright, juicy, full-bodied cup with cherry nougat flavours and a warm, savoury backbone.
The food menu is pared down to jaffles, waffles and pastries, all informed by the sensibility that rules in the kitchen at Axil’s Hawthorn cafe. Jaffles, at $6.50 for a single or $9.50 for a double, come filled simply with meaty ham hock and cheddar, or, a bit more luxe, confit duck with cannellini beans or thyme-roasted mushrooms and gruyere.
A mac and cheese version is a fun riff on Australia’s obsession with American convenience food, while Not a Reuben is stuffed with coffee-braised beef and sauerkraut.
Early on waffles channelled more Americanata with toppings like peanut butter, chocolate, banana and candied popcorn, while a Nutella and whipped hazelnut ganache topping was strictly Melbourne. But the waffles missed the mark with local workers and soon disappeared from the menu.
That leaves other sweet frankenfood to dunk in your batch brew – come by on Mondays for Rustica Bakery cronuts, while Doughboy donuts appear later in the week.
Axil Coffee Roasters
Where Southern Cross Lane, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, phone (03) 9042 5242
When Mon–Fri 7am–4pm