Named after flamboyant and eccentric author Truman Capote, this chipper café is a little out of the Albert Park norm. Set on a big, wide corner fronting Kerferd Road, its appeal is broad – office workers, mums with prams, older families and groups of mates – and its sense of fun instantly obvious.
Mark Wright and Ryan Cassidy opened Truman mid last year, taking over the empty space that had belonged to Café Ciliego. They operate the place, backed by partners Jackie Bega and Adele Arkell (Las Chicas, The Galleon and Radio Mexico). Both had worked for the “girls” at their other cafes, but it’s a first ownership for the business partners.
Wright has been collecting his “op-shop stuff” – the teaspoons, sugar bowls and pineapple ornaments for years, always with his own café in mind. “Pineapples are going to be big one day,” he says.
The pair chose Di Bella’s coffee, as they had already worked with it, and brought along chef Catherine Dando (an ex Las Chicas colleague) to keep it all in the family.
Dando’s menu is varied and interesting and includes a bright breakfast salad of cherry tomato, avocado and Bulgarian feta on toasted ciabatta and a quinoa salad, dense with roasted sweet potato and toasted seeds enlivened by mint, rocket and spinach leaves.
Oliver Jackson says he was making coffee long before latte art and single-origin beans became de rigueur. Not that he’s opposed to either. “I like to make it look good,” he says of his coffee, “but there’s no room for three grinders here.”
Jackson says he’s worked in “lots” of cafes around Melbourne. He ran his own, Trenta Posti, in Toorak for two-and-a-half years and spent another two at North Melbourne’s Auction Rooms, in its early days when there were only two baristas at the machine.
He learned a little about roasting coffee there, but was less interested in the scientific side of caffeine than the people side. He prefers working behind the café’s La Marzocco espresso machine, chatting to customers.
Jackson spent a couple of years travelling, returning home in time to get the word about Truman opening. The café uses Di Bella’s Felici blend to create malty, creamy flat whites with a hint of dark chocolate and, yes, they do look good.
Truman Corner Store
318 Montague Street,
Phone \ 9077 1372
Barista \ Oliver Jackson
Coffee \ Di Bella
Barista’s choice \ Long black
Open \ Monday to Friday 7am to 4pm; Weekends 8am to 4pm
Nanna would be at home here, surrounded by collected toys – troops of plastic soldiers march around the walls – and various curios. The Truman “look” is quirky, homely and entertaining; staff reminder notes are scrawled on tiles and scrabble letters spell out messages.
Pre-loved furniture fills every corner, there’s a timber antique teaspoon rack by the front door and displays of old encyclopaedias and assorted pineapple-shaped ornaments draw the eye. Collected sugar bowls, mismatched salt and pepper shakers and oddments of crockery and cutlery complete the light-hearted theme.
There’s oodles of outdoor seating under leafy trees and plenty of room for prams too.