The Shaws named their caf after a Buddist monk who brought Zen to China in the early 5th century.

Monk Bodhi Dharma

14:23:PM 10/06/2010
Leanne Tolra

Tim Crowley is passionate about great coffee.
Tim Crowley is passionate about great coffee.


Before Marwin and Kate Shaw opened MBD – their first café – they sought and received advice from some of Australia’s top coffee professionals. Marwin rattles off a list: Five Senses, Seven Seeds, Auction Rooms and Market Lane Coffee. He and head barista/roaster Tim Crowley also had help from Sydney coffee expert, World Latte Art champion and author Scottie Callaghan.

The Shaws named their café after a Buddist monk who brought Zen to China in the early 5th century. According to legend, Bodhidharma fell asleep during meditation and was so angry, he cut off his eyelids – they sprouted and became China’s first green tea plants.

The name announces the earnest intentions of this energetic and enthusiastic couple serving sustainable and healing vegetarian and vegan food, single-origin house-roasted coffee and seasonal and single-origin tea.

Kate does all the cooking on site. She sought menu advice from Michael Hewstone, of Peace Kitchen, once in Torquay, now in Bali, and the team at Blaze’s Soup Kitchen in Elsternwick. The egg-free menu includes Dharma banana (warm banana bread with lemon ricotta) and Buddha’s bruschetta (with bocconcini and basil) for breakfast, or daily specials such as a seven-vegetable stew and wholesome cakes and muffins.

Excellent teas supplied by Somage Fine Foods include an intense, aromatic cascara (the dried outer layer of the coffee cherry) and Ceylon black tea combination, and a golden oolong from Taiwan.

Tim Crowley
Tim Crowley


Tim Crowley’s self-prescribed mission is to educate and inform his customers about coffee. He wants them to “catch the bug”, just like he did.

Crowley worked at Bookplate Café at the National Library in Canberra and spent the past two-and-a-half years at Auction Rooms in North Melbourne, but says he is still learning, too.

He’s operating the three-kilogram Diedrich roaster at this funky new café and working determinedly behind the three-group espresso machine to create coffee nirvana.

Although his own caffeinated preference is for a perfectly brewed syphon coffee, he’s occasionally seen punching the air with glee after extracting a top espresso shot.

Sip this

Monk Bodhi Dharma, Rear 202 Carlisle Street, Balaclava

Phone 9534 7250

Barista Tim Crowley

Coffee Monk Bodhi Dharma, guest roasters

Barista’s choice Syphon coffee

Open Monday-Friday 6.30am-4pm; Weekends 8am-4pm

Recycled timber and pre-loved furniture dominate this pleasant, earthy space hidden from Balaclava’s “places to be seen”. A 1920s bootmaker’s table runs down the centre of the room and antique Singer sewing machine parts have become tables. Tiny box stools made from recycled pine are dotted around the space and cladding from an old mansion is wrapped around the counter.

Three coffee grinders, a chalkboard featuring a trio of daily coffees, a collection of filtered coffee devices and a shiny roaster leave no doubt about the worship of caffeine.

A well-made ristretto from a house-roasted Rwandan Musasa coffee has a crisp acidity and features fruity notes of apricot and plum. Service is relaxed, friendly and intuitive – quite Zen, really.

Monk Bodhi Dharma on Urbanspoon

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