Alex Anderson and Kate Holloway opened The Premises, their first café together, just four months ago. The pair, who had been working at Carlton’s popular Seven Seeds café, had been looking for a site and a way to spread their former employer’s coffee further afield. Anderson is in charge of the coffee and Holloway runs the kitchen. Her breakfast and lunch menu is sophisticated and creative but not unapproachable – try the pulled pork platter, with mustard coleslaw and crusty bread. They are serving a Seven Seeds house blend and a range of single-origin beans from roasters including Small Batch (Auction Rooms in North Melbourne) and Market Lane Coffee in Prahran. Anderson also has contacts at Square Mile Café in London and sources coffee from the US, too.
Kensington residents are quietly grateful on weekdays, but on weekends the 55-seater is swamped. My short macchiato, which I’m finding a reliable anaylsis of barista skill, was gorgeous. Made with the house blend, its espresso base was syrupy and indulgent, with a finely balanced profile. The expertly judged drop of creamy milk added a final touch of sweetness. The Premises also serves excellent pour-over filter coffees – over ice if you wish – using its rotating single-origin beans.
Not long after Masahiro Onishi, from Tokyo, won a Japanese latte art competition, he headed to New York and snared second place in the US Coffee Fest Latte Art competition. That was March 2010. Eight months later he arrived in Melbourne and landed his first barista job at then just-opened The Premises. Earlier this year, he was second in the Victorian latte art titles. Masa, as he’s known to colleagues, is an ambitious latte art competitor who sees Melbourne as the place to hone his skills. He has a steady hand and a careful eye that will serve him well. Masa works with the other 10-15 staff at the café, and shares his role as barista with Anderson.
The Premises, 202 Bellair Street, Kensington
Phone \ 9376 7565
Barista \ Masahiro Onishi
Coffee \ Seven Seeds
Barista’s choice \ Caffé latté
Open \ Tuesday to Friday 7am-4.30pm; Saturday to Sunday 8am-4pm
There’s a quaint, kitchen-farmhouse feel to this street-front café, with its whitewashed walls and honey-toned recycled timber fittings and furniture (including a trio of antique school desks tucked in the front window). Subtle, moss-green chairs, light fittings and wall tiles give the space, which is divided into two levels, uniformity. Pavement tables on leafy Bellair Street look across to Kensington station, while inside, a corner banquette and a central communal table fill the lower room. The upper room has its own street entrance, a smattering of smaller tables and features a sizeable kitchen tucked behind a country-look counter. The smooth, efficient staff members manage to be friendly and unobtrusive, adding to the mood of country hospitality.