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My tongue was scorched and my palate was whimpering. I had been in South Yarra and Hawthon, trying to find an undiscovered café and barista for this column. But the places I tried, some sadly on reader recommendations, just didnt seem to care about their coffee.
On the way home, through Malvern, a café on Glenferrie Road caught my attention. I ordered a takeaway flat white. Perfect temperature, gossamer-textured milk, a complex espresso base. I had found Eden. Eden Espresso, that is.
Owner Jed Hawkins opened the place in late 2008 after a background in hospitality. Hes a country boy, educated as a boarder at Scotch College, so has a local connection.
The café began with a Sydney-based brand of coffee, Golden Cobra, but six months ago Hawkins renovated and changed the house brand to Five Senses. Its a great product, he says. The café uses the Dark Horse blend, and offers a rotating single-origin bean. Hawkins background gives him empathy with farmers around the world and hes keen to create a direct-trade relationship with the suppliers of his coffee beans.
On a second visit, to make sure I wasnt delirious the day I tried the takeaway brew, I ordered an in-house espresso. It was a busy Saturday morning and the brew, delivered pronto, was short, bright and full of rich notes of apricot, honey and toasted almonds. My third coffee, a three-quarter flat white, missed the mark slightly but, suffice to say, Eden revisited.
Andrew Easthope came to Melbourne from Adelaide three years ago. He spent five years working for South Australian chain Cibo Espresso and picked up his first Melbourne barista job at Grocery Bar in St Kilda. Hes a part-time musician (guitarist, singer, songwriter) and had heard about Hawkins café through other musicians. I liked Jeds philosophy and his attitude that hospitality is about making people happy by identifying what they are after. Its about giving them the highest possible quality product and a great experience, all at the same time, he says. Easthope enjoys latte art but says it has to be a quality brew, delivered with love, or its not worth bothering with.
Eden Espresso, 121 Glenferrie Road, Malvern
Phone 9509 9119
Barista Andrew Easthope
Coffee Five Senses
Baristas choice Flat white
Open Monday to Friday 7am-6pm; Saturday to Sunday 8am-6pm
The large, shiny espresso machine on the raw, unfinished timber counter is a dominant feature at this understated Malvern café. Plain charcoal tiles line the floors, off-white walls hold timber-framed hessian coffee sacks from around the globe and crinkly brown-paper wallpaper covers the lower half of the walls. Antique timber dining tables, probably once in houses nearby, are scattered through the front room, beside a couple of low, inviting couches. In the middle room, which fronts the galley kitchen, band posters line the walls and tables are close, while in the pretty rear courtyard theres a sense of paradise found.