Sprawling South Melbourne is a hotbed of third wave coffee spots, but there’s a new kid on the block who’s keeping it refreshingly simple.
Freestyle Espresso rocks it down a ropey, non-descript little lane off Coventry St, squished between private carparks and chi-chi gift wholesalers. It’s a quiet little haven with a bare-bricked courtyard slowly getting covered in a filigree of vines (and just begging for a liquor license).
Freestyle serves Allpress coffee (they’re a New Zealand operation) straight up – nothing tricksy, nothing complicated. If you’re after a pour over or a syphon, best aim your back paws towards Dead Man or St Ali. But if you just want a cup of dense, smooth and mellow java, you’ll love Freestyle. Especially if you park it in one of the woolly, cushioned chairs by the window – dangerous territory to those of us prone to spontaneous napping.
The food is all homemade (apart from the breads and croissants which hop the river from Dench) – and the proximity to South Melbourne Market obviously doesn’t hurt one bit either. Breakfasts are magnificent Melbourne classics (like the cassoulet of homemade beans, streaky bacon and a mustard and basil sausage), the sandwiches would make a lunchbox weep (poached chicken with parsley mayo, green apple and herbed potatoes) while the lunch menu is a tasty global scattergun (gnocci in brown butter, san choy bow, quesadillas). I put my bags down in the UK and went with a fantastic, peppery Welsh Rarebit with leeks – a serve is two big slices of rye the size of Yeti feet, so think about sharing if you have a love-hate relationship with lactose or you’ll be in for the long afternoon of the cheese sweats.