In what was once a pocket of north-side no man’s land – the swathe of Collingwood backstreets between Victoria Parade and Johnston Street – coffee shops, roasters and eateries have sprouted among the grey to feed and caffeinate Melbourne’s insatiable masses.
Shopfront Coffee swung open the door to its pocket-sized space in June. Reviving the template of owner Sonam Sherpa’s previous venture (the one-year tenured Placeholder, which occupied the base of Neometro’s Smith Street display suite), Shopfront Coffee is about nailing essentials: espresso and filter coffee from rotating suppliers including Small Batch, Seven Seeds and Dukes.
Complementing Sonam’s always-perfect brews, pastries and treats are bicycled over each morning from Loafer. Bliss balls by Nomadic Dreams are an option for those seeking to fill their mid-afternoon, post-lunch hunger hole, and cleansing juice by Matchless Goods is there for those feeling coffee-weary.
Settling into the window banquette feels a little like getting comfy on a friend’s living room couch: the diminutive space is warm with chatter as Sonam and his team banter with each other, their regulars and newbies. It’s a vibe and energy cultivated through a genuine love of hospitality. Sonam and staff member Annabel, with whom he worked at Placeholder, share an effortlessness in shooting the breeze with customers and making each feel like they’ve been seen, heard and appreciated. Those who visit leave uplifted not only by first-class caffeine but also by Annabel’s brilliant laugh and bottomless energy.
Of the area’s additions over the past couple of years, Shopfront Coffee is a keeper.