Social: Barista Mark Jacobson enjoys the meet-and-greet aspect of his job.
Camberwell train commuters have the most to gain from this new specialty coffee café overlooking the station. Word of mouth and the appreciative crowd ahead of them, rather than any showy signs or specials boards, have directed them to the first caffeine-induced rush of their morning routine.
Collective Espresso was opened in July last year by a group of friends who pooled their talents. Business partners Mark Jacobson and Duncan McCrane are the remaining members of the team and run the coffee and food side of the business respectively. McCrane is gradually building the simple breakfast and sandwich-based menu.
The shop was previously a boutique and they’ve done the fitout themselves, adding the kitchen a few months ago with the help of a friend.
The pair credit their training to the trio of women who began the frenetically busy Las Chicas Café in Balaclava and run the Galleon Café in St Kilda.
It’s their first café and they say they are still experimenting, taking many of their businesses and operating cues from the Galleon. The café's name was based on all that collective wisdom.
Mark Jacobson dropped out of school early to make coffee. The Toronto-born, Kiwi-raised barista began his career at Starbucks and even after 12 years of making coffee says he’s still learning. His own preferred brew is a “magic”, a growing term for a perfect flat white, but he loves a good espresso too.
Jacobson operates the machine at his year-old café six days a week, enjoying the social side of the business as much as any caffeine focus. He selected the café’s brand of coffee after many tastings around town. “After a lot of experimenting, I decided that I enjoyed the flavour,” he says. The café offers a house espresso blend and a changing daily single-origin coffee.
Collective Espresso, 3 Cookson Street, Camberwell
Phone \ 9882 8995
Barista \ Mark Jacobson
Coffee \ Five Senses
Barista’s choice \ Flat white
Open \ Monday to Friday 7am-5pm; weekends 8am-4pm
A row of beige takeaway cups lines up inside the glass box that was once a sign at Collective Espresso. It’s all part of the minimalist, tongue-in-cheek theme. Only an outdoor blackboard and the logo on the cups feature the café’s name.
Inside, crisp white walls, a long pine veneer-topped timber table and timber box stools fill this fresh, unfussy café. There are a pair of couches in the sunny window space, and colourful framed prints and bottles filled with flowers add the necessary splash of colour.
The gleaming stainless steel espresso machine and the beret-clad baristas work consistently, chatting as they go. A flat white will be deep and intense, poured with a double ristretto base at all times, its milk texture frothy and its notes of bittersweet orange and caramel dominant.