Degraves Espresso is an iconic café with a gritty back-alley ambience on a narrow cobbled laneway of ramshackle cafés and improvised dining that says more about Melbourne than any other location in the city. In the middle of this eclectic jumble of food and culture, the shopfront of Degraves Espresso stands out because it’s not overbearing or bursting with some new-age style. From the old folding theatre seats at every table to the elaborate chalk-board menus, it’s what you’d expect from small café – but an old familiar comfort is exactly that: old and familiar, and while the coffee wasn’t bad, it wasn’t enough to make me want to go back again.
This coffee was difficult to review, because it was so average I’m finding it hard to describe. Degraves Espresso doesn’t present itself like Coffeehead, there is no coffee-centric philosophical system. The starting point is the bohemia of Degraves street, so the system of exchange is casual and nonchalant – you have the opportunity to qualify your coffee on its own merit.
Comparatively that was refreshing, but as a standalone experience the coffee at Degraves Espresso wasn’t exciting enough to make me want to come back again. It wasn’t bitter with a dark roasted flavor, but it wasn’t rich and tasting more similar to chocolate either. It was just bland and did little to excite my palate.
I’m not sure whether to recommend Degraves Espresso or not. It’s a quiet and comfortable nook on the otherwise busy laneway, and the more I think back on the experience there was nothing negative about it.
Theres nothing wrong with the coffee here, and the dining experience is unique and enjoyable, but considering the iconic atmosphere of Degraves street, there is definitely something lacking.
All I can really say is that you’re delivered everything you’re promised at Degraves Espresso – which unfortunately isn’t much. So while I can’t fault it, I’m not going to recommend Degraves Espresso either.