Melbourne is one of the most popular study destinations in the world, famous for its bars, restaurants and cafés, as well as for its culture and its thriving music and arts scenes. The city is home to seven universities and hosts satellite campuses for another five. Its CBD alone holds 11 campuses, two of which are the main campuses of RMIT and the University of Melbourne. The inner city bustles with student life.
Melbourne is renowned for its coffee—it is home to almost as many baristas as students—but with so many choices, how can you find the best places to work quietly and without interruption? The three essential requirements of café workspaces are wi-fi, space to spread out and good coffee (or tea or hot chocolate, depending on your tastes). Here are some recommendations for Melbourne cafés that meet all three:
- Mr Tulk. If in doubt, always begin with a library. The State Library of Victoria on Swanston Street is in itself a good place to study, but it can become crowded, especially in winter. If you crave a decent coffee and a warm, spacious atmosphere in which to continue working, head next door to Mr Tulk. The café inhabits the same building as the library and can be accessed through its central corridor, so you won’t even need to brave the weather—and there is the added bonus of being able to piggyback on the library’s free wi-fi.
Address: 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne
- The Moat. On the other side of the State Library of Victoria, and downstairs in the building’s basement, is a warm, quiet, atmospheric place for a drink, a coffee or a bite to eat. Sit yourself down beside shelves cut into bluestone walls that hold both books and wine glasses, or spend a warm afternoon outside in the stone courtyard. Write a chapter, read an article, exchange a book with the Moat’s communal bookshelf, or sit back and log in to the free wi-fi.
Address: 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
- Journal Café. Speaking of libraries, this café is housed within the Melbourne City Library building and it oozes studiousness with its suspended bookshelves and reading-lamp style lighting. It has a large, communal table at its centre that is perfect for spreading out on to work, as well as more private corner seats that make great study nooks—and it serves good coffee, tea and wine from behind a counter piled high with delicious baked goods.
Address: 253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
- The Queensberry Pour House. Not only does this place know how to pun, it also serves bottomless cups of home-roasted, single-origin coffee as well as homemade pastries, preserves, pesto and ricotta. Around the corner from Melbourne University, the café provides a relaxed atmosphere in which customers are encouraged to linger over cup after cup of filter coffee, after the style of an American diner. What better place to finish off that chapter you’ve been procrastinating about, and treat yourself in the process?
Address: 210 Queensberry Street, Carlton
- Campos Carlton. Here is a café with plenty of space and with delicious, ethically sourced and sustainable coffee. Snuggle up on a cushioned couch to work and let the leafy interior stimulate your brain—along with the coffee, of course. Here, you can find the full range of coffee brews, from espresso to cold drip and filter, made from beans sourced from around the globe. Just a few blocks from the main campus of Melbourne University, and with free wi-fi, Campos is perfect for a change of scene, but still close enough to the Baillieu Library, should you need another book.
Address: 144 Elgin Street, Carlton
- Mork Chocolate Brew House. More of a hot-chocolate drinker? Mork’s Chocolate Brew House is unlike anything you have ever tried. Situated in North Melbourne, only a short walk from Queen Victoria Markets, this café specialises in hot chocolate (and iced chocolate in the summer). It does not serve coffee or tea, only chocolate, and its signature ‘campfire’ hot chocolate is served with an upside-down glass of beechwood-fragrant smoke and a lightly charred marshmallow. This is the ideal place for a feel-good pick-me-up that will keep you going on the more challenging days of writing.
Emily Finlay, PhD, AE (IPeD)