Axil Coffee Roasters, 322 Burwood Road Hawthorn
People may think that this column is just an excuse for me to just go and hang out in amazing cafes with the veil of journalistic integrity. They’re absolutely right.
Axil Coffee Roasters is the newest offering from Melbourne’s fat selection of cafes, and straight up, they’ve come out guns blazing. There are some great reasons to go there:
- As Meredith (Golden Plains) McCullough said, it’s an all-star cast:
David Makin – Five times Victorian barister champ, two times Australian champ, runner up in the Worlds in ’08.
Zoe Delany – Highly experienced barister and roaster, worked as head trainer for some big coffee companies.
Matt Perger – Australian barister champion and just recently came third in the 2011 World Barista Championship.
Make no mistake, caffeine is a drug, and given that, these guys are the most prominent and renowned mafia family in this town.
- The service is better than Andy Roddick’s. As soon as you walk in, someone is smiling at you, offering you a seat or a take away. Usually I don’t like this, but they’re so damn friendly. In fact, the first time I went there, Dave Makin showed me to my seat and got me some water. My fanboy side was internally doing backflips. It shows a great deal of humility and appreciation for the customer when the boss dons an apron and greets people at the front door.
- Axil, like many aggressive, shaved-head bull-dykes, has an industrial vibe: the high, curved metal roof, wall-covering front windows, hanging down-lights, and a dividing wall lined with pot plants. They combine to give the cafe an unusual hydroponic feeling. Everything is on display. The three grinders sandwhiched between the two coffee machines are perched on long open benches, giving the coffee production processes a performance-like atmosphere.
- They’ve decked out their gear appropriately. Axil is blazing two LaMarzoccos (each modified so each group handle has it’s own tank and pressure), three Mazzer Robur Coffee Grinders (pretty much the best grinder you can get for fast grinding and on-the-fly grind modifictation) and a couple of alternate brewing methods. Needless to say, both the house blend and varying single origins (all roasted on site) kick ass. Axil, with it’s lack of over-complexity in choice, provides a solid launching pad for anybody who is beginning their odyssey into the speciality coffee world.
Of course, as Miles Davis vividly demonstrated when he went through his bullshit funk-fusion phase, nobody’s perfect:
- The food is acceptable. It’s very tasty and definitely appropriate for the high-quality cafe that Axil is, but it didn’t wow me. I can’t see myself going back there with the intention of getting a big feed… unless I’ve got one of those shocking hangovers wherein I somehow convince myself that copious amounts of food will help (Spoiler alert: it never does).
- While the service was good, there were still a couple of issues about us not getting everything. Thomas’ soup was lacking cheesy bread, my long macchiato was missing milk and they had to come back to our table and verify our food order, as they’d forgotton the specifics. I put it down to it still being new, they’ll pick up their game I’m sure.
- The open-plan atmosphere seems to invite obnoxious mothers with dumbass oversized prams to go there with their loud, buzz-killing children. Seriously, just sit there and eat your fucking idiotic ‘babycino’ in silence you irritable pest. Santa’s not real… deal with it.
- It’s pretty picky, but I wasn’t happy with the presentation of my long macchiato. The serving of a long mac varies from place to place, but I don’t think these guys got it right. It was just a double shot with some water in a latte glass and then some (not particularly foamy) milk in a little jug on the side. The coffee was delicious, but it felt a bit sloppy.
- My mate had a hard time finding the bog.
Given all of that, you’ll still find me in there regularly drinking award winning coffee from award winning baristas. It’s a no-brainer.
Photos by Max Denton.