Coffee Max, with its oversized bag of coffee beans atop the Burke Road hill, is well known by Camberwell locals. And, as owner Dino Crivelli hoped, the opening of a second shop at Doncaster Shopping Town almost three years ago increased awareness of the brand. Crivelli is a third-generation coffee roaster. His family arrived in Melbourne in the 1950s and established Coffex Coffee.
After that brand was sold, Crivelli created Coffee Max in 2000, and the family now runs Crivelli Coffee.
The original shop attracts regulars and drop-ins, says Crivelli. “It’s more of a destination store and is less likely to receive foot traffic, while our Doncaster store receives more foot traffic and has really created awareness of our brand. People know we are about no gimmicks and no pretence, just beautiful coffee blends. Most of our specialty coffees are micro lots from single estates.”
Crivelli is involved in all aspects of the business, and you might find him behind an espresso machine or operating a roaster. Coffee Max doesn’t have a “house blend” as such. Different coffees are put through the espresso machines at its shops each day. “Whatever we select at the start of the day will be used that day, but tomorrow we might run a different coffee.”
Bairnsdale boy Sam Virgo worked in a few restaurants and made the odd coffee before finding his way to Coffee Max three years ago, but it was Crivelli who shaped him as a barista. Working in a café where coffee is being roasted and blended around him has sharpened his understanding of coffee freshness, its origins and its flavour peculiarities. The Camberwell coffee set enjoys its caffe lattes, so there’s regular opportunity to practise latte art, and Virgo describes his art as “a work in progress”. Crivelli says his head barista has grown into a “super-quick, super-efficient” operator and a dedicated worker who is “always monitoring the extraction of his shots and adjusting the grind of the coffee”. “His latte art skills are exceptional and his presentation is excellent,” says the proud boss and mentor.
Coffee Max, 742 Burke Road, Camberwell
Phone \ 9813 0111
Barista \ Sam Virgo
Coffee \ Coffee Max
Barista’s choice \ Caffe latte
Open \ Monday to Saturday 6am-5pm; Sunday 8am-3pm
Web \ www.coffeemax.com.au
This 11-year-old shop is showing signs of age, but the patina of wear adds character and charm. The herringbone-patterned brick floor and the gold-painted pressed-tin ceiling are an elegant backdrop to classic Euro timber furnishings and colourful coffee paraphernalia. Bean dispensers line two walls; unroasted beans rest beside the 12-kilogram Probat roaster at the rear, and up to 10 varieties of roasted beans are for sale. Blends include Mrs Crivelli, dedicated to the owner’s two loves, and SuperMax, which contains notes of chocolate and hazelnut. Organic, decaf and Fairtrade coffee beans are offered, too.