For four years The Final Step was a tiny room dedicated to the art of brewing specialty coffee with a roster of beans from Melbourne’s best roasters. In 2013 owner Dan Whitaker moved the focus to social justice: profits from the business now fund the Social Opportunity Group’s Food For Thought program, which supplies nutritious meals and learning opportunities to kids in apoor neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.
The added emphasis has made the coffee offer more focussed rather than diluting it, though, with beans coming from Richmond roaster Maker Fine Coffee, a newish project by John Vroom, formerly of Ora in Kew.
A couple of single origins are on the blackboard coffee menu: maybe a Colombia Iquira and an Ethiopia Gelana Abaya. The Ethiopian’s cupping notes – floral, strawberry jam, lemon zest – translate to candied fruit sweetness and some green fruit acidity in a short black; the Colombian – cherry, melon, cocoa – is clean and sweet with a hint of chocolate and a lively tang.
The food here always was simple: maybe a toasted multigrain bagel plus a generous pile of chopped avocado and goat’s cheese with a spritz of lime and black pepper, a slice of cheesecake or a Butterbing cookie sandwich.
The worn timber, casual stools and soft banquette make The Final Step give its dedicated regulars an antidote to the polished sheen of Toorak Road’s shoe boutiques and bespoke barbers, and the project neatly transfers wealth from one of Melbourne’s richest neighbourhoods to one of Buenos Aires’ poorest – all for the price of a cup of coffee or two.
The Final Step
Where 1c Murphy Street, South Yarra
When Mon-Fri 7am–4pm, Sat 8am–3pm, Sun 9am–3pm