Certainly, the most pressing issue for Monash University’s students isn’t class sizes, or GPA or any of that bilge. It’s coffee. Coffee precedes all of that. So, it’s something you better get right, and I’m going to tell you how.
Although a contentious subject, let me present the definitive guide to coffee at Monash. Why definitive? Listen buddy, I’ve been at this university tertiary qualification service provider for eight bloody years now, I remember Green Week and when the Blackburn Rd Carpark was free, fer chrissake. Now, where was I? Oh, the coffee…
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. When I started at Monash five million years ago, the Den was under the Matheson library and served the best coffee at Monash by far. It was run by a perpetually bored-looking, lanky, 40-something Italian bloke who was extremely good at what he did. Vittoria, though a commodity blend, could be magic in skilled hands – especially with a bit of sugar. The Den had real coffee; none of this ‘zero bitterness’ rubbish. But alas, the original owners sold up and the business relocated to the Campus Centre when the Matheson was converted into a glass Christmas tree. Avoid if possible. Now more like a tuckshop than a coffee joint.
Good prosciutto panini and surprisingly good coffee. The mint slice is an amazing exercise in seeing how your insulin levels fare. Slightly on the pricey side and service can be slow at peak hours, but otherwise a solid performance. The iced latte, which is a shot of espresso with some cold milk and ice in a cup, is probably the best value on campus.
Breakfast standby. I see many an undergrad adopt my de facto ‘I missed breakfast’ order, being a large café latte and a large almond croissant. This combination, which comes at a discount if you get there early enough, has enough carbohydrate content to keep you going until early afternoon – at which point you might want to trek over and order some of their excellent chips (technically fries). Just make sure you stock up on your own condiments if you pursue the latter option. Another hint with the almond croissants – absolutely make sure that you get the ones sans chocolate. Nobody wants a nasty surprise first thing in the morning.
Church of Secular Coffee
Despite having one of the worst names of any café ever, Hipster Coffee (as I call it) serves the best brew on campus. Beware, this comes at a price – a small cup costs the same as a regular from elsewhere. Plus, any food options are aimed at an Administration wage. Still, if you want a cup of flavoursome coffee straight out of Inner North Melbourne, this is your joint. Used to do great iced coffees in useful glass bottles, now sadly no longer.
Perennial favourite of the science faculty crowd, this bar at the back end of campus has one thing going for it – geographical convenience. If you’ve lumbered into the ‘Pingu building’ or its surrounds, chances are you’ve convened at the butcher’s paper-covered tables for a chat with your academic supervisor. The coffee is average at best, despite being full priced (order the cappuccino, if anything at all), and the muffins always seem to come soaked in vegetable oil. On the plus side, service is usually quite friendly.
JP’s Espresso Lab
Does this rumoured café in the furthest recesses of the campus still exist? I just know I went there a year or two ago and the coffee was marginally worse than Cinque Lire’s. Fun if you feel like mounting an expedition into lands unknown.
A promising contender for the crown of the best coffee on campus. It had the advantage of being nearly as good and about 50 cents cheaper. However, I haven’t been here in some time (i.e. since about three months after it opened) and when I last went it was on the decline, the original owners having transferred daily running to operational staff. Is it any good? Answers on a postcard, please.
Never been here, but that’s only because I’ve been frightened by the tuckshop vibe. Is it any good? Answers on a signed publicity photo, please.
Secret Garden Eatery
Prior to massive refurbishment, the place for coffee at the Hargrave was Fibonacci’s. A friend of mine used to do a coffee run during our Thursday arvo study sessions, whereby he’d incrementally order an extra shot in his latte each time. They refused him at six shots. This had an interesting effect on my consciousness. Anyway, do not recommend – the coffee is about Cinque Lire standard (i.e. average) and upgrading to ‘single origin’ (when the counter staff know what you’re talking about) yields no improvement in quality.
Artichoke and Whitebait
Textbook example of how the beans do not make the coffee (the barista does). Despite stocking one of the most highly regarded roasteries in Melbourne (Sensory Lab), their coffee is generally awful. Hire some decent baristas and we’ll check back in six months.
Satellite of Taste Baguette in the Matheson, so much of the same rules apply.
Saporo is to Engineering and CSIRO as Cinque Lire is to the science faculty. Marginally better than Cinque, but otherwise out of the way unless you’ve parked in the N1 carpark.
So, there you have it. Best coffee on campus? Church of Secular Coffee. Worst cafe name on campus? Church of Secular Coffee. Best value coffee on campus? Taste Baguette.
Now that I’ve made those important decisions for you, go back to worrying about your GPA.