At first glance, Atomica Cafe may seem like a typical, modern Melbourne cafe. However, a rich history has seen it play a role in the rise of the Australian coffee industry, together with its endless pursuit of excellence.
When it opened in 1996, there was novelty value in what it provided; the eager Fitzroy crowd came to Atomica Coffee because it was the first cafe in the area to roast coffee beans on-site. The only accompaniment to the cups of coffee was a small variety of snacks; today all the cakes are handcrafted and everything is made from scratch in Atomica’s kitchen.
From that point on, the café’s owner, Toli Avgerinos, set out to make a name for Atomica in the wider coffee world. Around this time the coffee industry started to develop and the demand for specialty beans took off. Toli relocated the roaster so that more of its excellent beans could fill the cups of the city’s coffee lovers.
Producing quality coffee has been at the forefront of the Atomica ethos for almost twenty years now, and the business has gradually formed its identity around its roasting prowess. Today the coffee is manually roasted in nearby Northcote, and not in-house, but the same passion for it remains.
Toli said, “There is a quality, an indefinable texture to the handmade product.”
All coffee is roasted to order twice weekly for optimum freshness and packed in bags made from 100% recycled paper. The house blend, Atomica Dark, is a medium-dark roast blend of eight high-grown Arabica beans that makes for a full-bodied coffee with hints of caramel, fruity tones and a rich chocolate finish. As well as the house blend, there is a rotating range of single origins available.
Supplying to cafes around the city, as well as retail, the Atomica roasters have created a diverse range of offerings suitable for café or home use. Each roast is tailored for a particular extraction method. Whether you use a plunger, stovetop, cold drip, or AeroPress, you’ll find a suitable roast in the collection. A similar level of attention is applied to the café’s selection of handmade cakes and food, a rare treat in the midst of bustling Fitzroy.
This all means the checkered floor, brick industrial interior, and French-style finishing touches have seen quite a following over the years. There are still loyal customers who took to the venue from day one, as well as plenty of first-timers discovering it as they walk by. When a fire started in the kitchen and it required a complete makeover, the loyal following was brought home to Toli.
“I felt humbled with the response from the street,” he said. “Customers told me that they would never take us for granted again, all because they couldn’t get Atomica coffee for three days!”