Cafe culture is synonymous with Melbourne: we are constantly in the Top 3 cities worldwide, brewing the best coffee. We catch up over coffee, we reward early-morning exercise with coffee, we grab a coffee so we can get through another business meeting. Often, it’s the reason we get out of bed in the morning. It’s a total experience!
Undoubtedly the birthplace of such immersive cafe culture is Lygon Street, Carlton. Little Italy introduced authentic Italian coffee to the community in the mid-fifties with the introduction of the first Espresso machine in the country. Melbourne grabbed onto that aromatic brewed bean with both hands and Lygon Street cafes boomed throughout the mid-sixties and seventies.
Our love affair with the dark nectar has become part of Melbourne’s DNA. Coffee is social, even if you’re alone: it’s a moment of joy, energy, deliciousness and relaxation. And the cafes on Lygon Street are the icons of the industry.
Iconic Cafe Culture
Wandering down leafy Lygon Street will present you with a bevy of barista brewed beauties: the competition is so fierce, you can’t possibly go wrong. It’s worth keeping an eye out for the titans of the industry who built this cafe empire and are responsible for creating such a dynamic culture that has spread well beyond the strip, the suburb and even the city.
University Cafe is one of the Lygon St originals, situated in the heart of Little Italy, and established in 1952. Just shy of its 70 year milestone, the cafe has hosted a universal clientele from locals, to academics and international travellers. One of Melbourne’s first espresso bars, it’s seen generations of glorious coffee and great conversation. Masters of home-style Italian cooking, their menu also delighted patrons with a coffee treat to eat – tiramisu.
The D.O.C. Group has evolved from humble beginnings. Once a pizzeria, the move to Carlton in the mid-nineties saw the opening of their iconic Espresso Bar, now called D.O.C Espresso Carlton. They provided an authentic Italian experience, without plane travel! D.O.C stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which translates as “controlled designation of origin.” It is a coverted certification that proves food to be authentically Italian, which is why everything they touch is worshipped.
Stuzzichino Caffe Bar e Ristorante specialises in the complete Italian experience. You can taste the passion in everything they do, from the coffee to their authentic Sicilian cuisine. Angelo Gibaldi started his training in Sicily at a young age, extending that throughout Italy before beginning a distinguished career in Lygon Street in 1987. When you sit down at his table you sit down with family. He often quotes his Nonna, “You can use the best ingredients of all time but the finest one is passion.”
No story of cafe culture in Melbourne is complete without the institution that is Brunetti and the Angelé family. Entering this truly unique Roman pasticceria is like being swallowed by a pastry fairy tale. The sumptuous selection of European style sweets and desserts will leave you spoiled for choice. One will not be enough! And to pair them with a delectable dark blend, basking in the wondrous atmosphere, it’s a divinely decadent slice of Italy.
The cafes of Lygon Street are world-class. They are authentic pockets of Italian history nestled in a cosmopolitan city. Not only can you experience the best cup of traditional coffee, you can be tempted by affogate, frappe, espresso con panna or Tiamo’s signature Cremespresso.
“Ti amo” is Italian for I “love you” ❤️ Lygon Street cafes will love your tastebuds.