One of the team: Barista Katie Pink shares the dedication to excellent coffee at Seven Seeds.
The coffee plants that Mark Dundon and Bridget Amor tucked in a sunny atrium in the centre of their Carlton-based warehouse café just over a year ago have flourished. A lot like the café they built to share their coffee bean devotion with Melburnians. Not that anyone ever doubted it would be successful. They have encouraged countless new café owners around Melbourne to deepen their knowledge and understanding of coffee.
From Dundon’s much-loved Café Ray in Brunswick, they built the crazily popular St Ali in South Melbourne, and with the proceeds from its sale set up Seven Seeds. The café was named after the seven seeds that monk Brother Baba Budan (the name of its sister city café) smuggled out of Yemen to bring coffee to the world. The place is more than a café, though: it’s a shrine to the bean, featuring a coffee laboratory, micro-roasting plant and temperature-controlled storage space for the rare and limited batches of specialty coffee that Dundon and Amor import. Their passion for single-origin, single-estate and micro-lot coffee is matched by their understanding and empathy for the people around the world who produce it.
The three-group espresso machine at Seven Seeds is operated by up to three baristas at once. Between them they extract 700-900 coffees daily. Senior barista Alex Anderson (left), whose background includes Melbourne cafes St Ali and Liar Liar and Soho’s Flat White, says the job calls for precision teamwork and plenty of communication. Anderson, who is planning to open a café with girlfriend and Seven Seeds’ head chef Kate Holloway, celebrates the way Melbourne is moving from what he calls its “old-school espresso culture” and embracing lighter-roasted coffees. But he still enjoys a double-shot ristretto or a strong flat white.
Seven Seeds, 114 Berkeley Street, Carlton
Phone \ 9347 8664
Barista \ Alex Anderson
Coffee \ Seven Seeds
Barista’s choice \ Strong flat white
Open \ Monday to Saturday, 7am-5pm; Sunday, 8am-4pm
The austerity of the exposed brick walls and aged concrete floors at this Carlton warehouse are given personality by quirky art pieces and dome lights wearing red crocheted “beanies”. The timber and grey metal furniture is offset on one wall by a printed sketch of the café’s emblem, a tree containing seven coffee seeds and colourful bikes racked on another. The staff is speedy and stylish. Food options include half-a-dozen interesting breakfast choices and some imaginative toasted-sandwich options. In winter, there’s a daily soup. But really, it’s all about the coffee. Perhaps a luscious espresso from Colombia, or a silky Clover filter coffee made with a Kenyan bean from the Mbee farm that features delicate notes of peaches, berries and honey.