This narrow bolthole at the south end of Brunswick Street makes good on the specialty coffee part of its name with a roaster installed in the tiny back room, a smart seasonal house blend and a regular roster of single origin coffee roasted every week in small batches.
Newton Specialty Coffee was once Newtown Social Club – barista-roaster Chris Legge and his partner, Jess, took over in mid-2014 and gave the space a contemporary but not-too-cool refit.
Legge (who once roasted for Black Velvet Espresso) has an eye for unusual coffee: maybe a Uganda Mount Elgon that makes a clean pourover brew with a hint of sweet citrus fruit and a nicely malty finish, or a chocolatey, nutty Brazil Santos.
Contraband Coffee in the grinders
The Seamstress seasonal blend is a mix of two Guatemalans, a Brazilian and an Ethiopian – a classic Melbourne specialty espresso blend, sweet with a bit of bright citrus acidity and plenty of body in a short black, but made for drinking with milk.
The blackboard menu is a list of small-cafe favourites like a poached chicken sandwich with preserved lemon, a ham and Swiss cheese toastie with tomato relish, and avocado smash with fetta and lemon. Specials keep regulars on their toes: maybe a chunky minestrone with pearl couscous, or a tasty grilled haloumi sandwich with roasted red peppers and sweet mango relish, and you can take beans home under the Contraband Coffee Traders label.
Newtown Specialty Coffee
Where 180 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, phone 0409 058 197
When Mon–Fri 7.30am–4pm, Sat–Sun 9am–3pm