There are probably more expectations placed on Axil than any other café in Melbourne. Whispers of its opening circulated for so long – tweets about a new roaster and its super switched-on owners – it couldn’t be helped that the public’s excitement and curiosity reached crazy fever pitch before Axil final opened its doors in May.
Axil’s owner, Dave Makin, has been kicking it in coffee circles for a while now. And when I say kicking, I mean beating everyone else in the circle at everything. He’s won the Victorian Barista Championship five times, the Australian National Barista Championship twice, and brought home second place from the World Barista Championships in 2008. Sheez winning.
So Axil had that going for it. But then we learned Matt Perger – previously of Market Lane and the 2011 National Barista Champion – would be manning the café’s two La Marzocco machines as Axil’s young gun head barista.
Then add Zoe Delany (Dave’s fiancé and part owner of Axil), chuck her passion for roasting and encyclopaedic knowledge of coffee in with Dave’s and Matt’s, it’s exhausting just thinking about how much these three know when it comes to caffeine.
But unfortunately, their combined uber-nouse means if an Axil customer gets a coffee that doesn’t blow their face off with its awesomeness, then Urban Spoon and Twitter are going to hear about it. I guess that’s just tall poppy. Each coffee I’ve had at Axil, I’ve found stunning, from espressos to long blacks to soy magics: roasted on site.
Axil’s warehousey space, sharp, friendly staff and menu of trusted favourites (bircher muesli with sweet dukkak-coated pear, banana and kiwifruit puree, $10, or gluten-free corn and haloumi fritters with avocado, salsa and poached eggs, $16) tell us that Dave and Zoe get it: they know what we want but they’ve put their own stamp/black crest on it (e.g. their use of slightly quirky ceramic cups and their bold choice to shun Bonsoy in favour of Vitasoy). I for one dig what they’ve done and can’t tweet a bad word about it.