Seven Seeds is one of the pioneers of specialty coffee in Australia, and their Carlton roastery and coffeehouse one of the best places to drink it.
To paraphrase Mark Dundon, co-owner of Seven Seeds, what the average cafe-goer probably thinks about specialty coffee is fairly simple: just give me a good coffee and get out of my face.
But quite a bit goes into that good coffee at Seven Seeds: apart from the cafe, there’s the roastery, which you can peer into, a role in green coffee importing business Silo, and even a share in a coffee farm in Honduras.
The hype surrounding Seven Seeds is partly down to anyone who has written about it: The Age Good Cafe Guide, for example, called it “one of Melbourne’s premier coffeehouses” (2012); “A Melbourne coffee mecca” (2013); and “Melbourne’s ultimate temple of coffee worship” (2014), while Broadsheet claims Seven Seeds sits in “an upper eschelon [sic]” and is “Melbourne’s high temple of coffee”.
But it’s also down to the operation itself: a buzzing coffeehouse inside a warehouse that looks through a cupping room into the roastery, with a busy coffee service bar and a tiny open kitchen in the corner that pumps out great cafe food – the philosophy of transparency and of understanding the journey from bean to cup is built into the Seven Seeds architecture.
The simplest demonstration of the philosophy is in drinking a short black of the espresso blend; in the middle of 2015 that’s a super-clean shot of Guatemala Finca Rosma, Colombia Andino Especial and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe with a rich aroma, an almost savoury molasses-like sweetness, and juicy red fruit that is held just in check.
The warehouse-y high-ceilinged space is always crowded and lively, so “temple” is a bit of a stretch, though “mecca” works when you find a group of pilgrims at the pourover bar watching as a slightly harried barista brews something special like a Boquete Suarez Panama geisha.
Food could be as simple as a pair of soft-boiled eggs with tasty brioche toast soldiers and little cuboids of even tastier bacon lardons, or as elaborate as a yellow curry of 24-hour slow-cooked goat with roasted cauliflower and roti. The double-patty wagyu burger is a messy and delicious double handful, and the corn bread with poached eggs, black bean salsa and avocado puree seems made to pair with a filter brew of one of the delicious Central American coffees that are usually on the menu.
Where 106-114 Berkeley Street, Carlton, (03) 9347 8664
When Mon–Sat 7am–5pm, Sun 8am–5pm