Dead Man Espresso

Cortez The Killer

Words by Jerome Lebel-Jones
Pictures by Guy Lavoipierre

No doubt you know the feeling: everybody is raving about a film, telling you it’s the best thing ever and you MUST see it. And the whole time you’re wishing people would stop hyping the thing because you know it’ll never live up to your expectations. Well that’s kinda how I felt about Dead Man Espresso. After all the gushing reviews, I knew that I’d be let down.

To be honest, on some level I didn’t want to like Dead Man. I blame tall poppy syndrome or maybe my contrarian nature. Either way the gushing from the blogosphere was giving me the shits. Which makes it all the harder to tell you that this cafe is an absolute cracker and deserves all the praise that’s been lavished on it.

So why is Dead Man everything it’s cracked up to be? Well, you won’t be surprised to hear that the coffee is top notch. As you’d expect from St Ali alumni. They are very serious about the coffee. Like really serious. Russell Crowe in Romper Stomper serious. Based on the quality of the coffee alone, Dead Man deserves its spot amongst Melbourne’s best cafes. But it takes more than just great coffee to make a great cafe.

For my money, the food is where these guys have really pushed themselves. It’s a lot more refined than you’d typically find in a cafe. I say refined because it’s still cafe food, just more considered and interesting than the competition. Great produce used in exciting combinations. There’s even plans to build a roof garden so they can grow some of their own stuff. Nice.

All that said, my favourite part is the space. I could literally spend all day there. And apparently I’m not the only one. I ran into a friend who was holding some sort of business meeting on the balcony. Two and a half hours later we were packing up our gear to leave and he was still holding court. Apparently offices are expensive and so 1990’s.

There’s a lot to love about this space: loads of beautiful wood with a few designer touches that lift it out of being merely rustic, bags of natural light, a huge balcony, and a commodious communal table. And they’ve definitely struck the right balance between cosy and spacious.

In the words of Molly Meldrum, do yourself a favour. Get down to South Melbourne and check out Dead Man Espresso.

Words by Jerome Lebel-Jones
Pictures by Guy Lavoipierre
Originally published 23 May, 2010

Dean Man Espresso
35 Market Street
South Melbourne, 3205
T. 03 9686 2255

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