I was about to have a massive day in the city – walking around, taking photos and following the tourists to see where they go around Melbourne. For this job, I needed to fuel up so I chose to have my second breakfast at 65 Degrees Café on Exhibition Street, which also happens to be the retail outlet for Gridlock Coffee!
I walked in, found a seat right in front of the coffee preparation area and within seconds I was being serviced by a smiley young chap. He took my soy latte order while another nimble chick whizzed past and placed a menu in front of me.
As I read the menu, my coffee arrived… and I was stunned – was I actually in the city? Shouldn’t I be waiting impatiently for 15 minutes before I get a sip of coffee? What’s happening?
It was a cascading beauty with a rich colour and smooth froth, but before the glass had a chance to touch my lips, another latte appeared in front of me. The barista came over and said that he wasn’t happy with the standard of the first coffee so he made me another – completely unnecessary but greatly appreciated because the redo was perfect. While it wasn’t as deeply coloured as the first, he nailed the froth and it was super creamy with no bitterness and absolutely ambrosial.
Later (as in 10 minutes ago), I discover that the barista goes by the name of Con – a passionate coffee maker who strives to serve the ‘perfect cup’. His efforts at 65 Degrees have resulted in Gridlock Coffee winning four Golden Bean Awards. Con has also earned the title of World Latte Art Champion in 2008, and Australian Latte Art Champion in 2006 and 2007. What a champ!
Anyway, after much deliberation, I was torn between two choices for breakfast – the Mexican Eggs or the Omelette with feta and chorizo… ‘Smiley’ voted for the omelette but I went with my grumbling guts and opted for the Mexican eggs.
There was another whirlwind of obliging service as the napkin and cutlery was fetched by one lass, the water bottle and glass by another, the pepper grinder by someone else again! I was expecting cartoon birds to appear and tie a bib around my neck while a cute bunny filed my nails.
My food was prepared and served promptly and looked good enough to eat. Two fried eggs sprinkled with tabasco sauce atop a slice of toasted sourdough, with a side of chili beans, avocado mash with parsley, sour cream and chorizo.
It was all so good.
The eggs were gooey and oozy and there was just enough tabasco to add bite without excruciating burn. The toast underneath was very gummy and the crust required effort, but it provided a great platform to catch the yolk.
My first impression of the beans was that they were straight out of the baked beans tin, but with tabasco and kidney beans added. However, the more I ate them, the more I enjoyed them and began to suspect that perhaps they were house-made. The beans had a level of maturity that went beyond typical baked beans, but still had that sweet sauciness that many people love.
The chorizo was fabulous – gusty and robust with a perfect amount of burn, it paired beautifully with the cool, calm sour cream that was infused with the delicate flavour of dill. My most favourite mouthful of this dish was a portion of chorizo slathered in the cream – wow.
What an experience… As I sat there, gazing out at sunny Melbourne through stained glass windows, I thought to myself, “I’m going to miss this.” There is nothing quite like having a perfect cup of coffee and tasty second breakfast in a friendly café that is not only passionate about good food and great coffee, but also about creating connection and fostering a sense of community.
Dave and I are leaving for our great adventure in a week, and while I’m sure that we will visit many cafés around Australia – there is no place like home.