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52: 40 - Axil Coffee Roasters Espresso Bar

Name: Axil Coffee Roasters CBD Espresso Bar
Address: 76 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD 3000
Served by: Jack & Anthony

You love coffee, right?  You might like a snack with it, but you really just want that hit of caffeine.  Especially at about 3pm, when you’re sitting at your desk and your mind wanders.  Sometimes all you need to do is step out of the office, get yourself a breath of fresh air… and stroll up Flinders Lane for a quick coffee at Axil Coffee Roasters CBD Espresso Bar.

So what’s good about Axil Coffee Roasters CBD Espresso Bar?

When Axil Coffee Roasters opened their Flinders Lane Espresso Bar, they understood that the Melbourne coffee scene was really embracing stand up coffee.  And that means that this compact espresso bar needs the bare essentials to operate efficiently and effectively.  On entering the space, you very quickly realise that the hero here is coffee.  The main counter is all about the process of making coffee, and it’s on full display– with a good workflow from grinding, to the coffee machine, milk dispensers, jug washers and additional steam wands all lined up so that your coffee gets to you quickly after you’ve ordered it.  Simple track lighting (that looks like stage lighting) is used cleverly, highlighting the workflow with a warm glow.

Once you’ve done that initial ordering and received your coffee, Axil has catered for those who want to stick around and sip that coffee.  Surrounding the perimeter of the space is a warm timber leaner, just at that perfect height to stand and lean on and rest your coffee whilst having a quick chat with a co-worker.

The material palette is industrial in it’s aesthetic and in conversation with Jack and Anthony (the two very attentive and awesome Baristas working at Axil) draws from the palette of the original Axil Coffee Roasters in Hawthorn.  On the polished concrete floor sits joinery of the main counter and a small amount of storage and shelving to one side.  This joinery is a combination of form ply (with an expressed edge here and there) and Tassie Oak timber wrapping up the front of the counter to create the counter top. This works well from a maintenance perspective - the ply can take a mopping, and the timber will take a beating and wear well over time.  The walls are lined too with form ply and the only addition to this minimal palette is a wonderful mural of a beautiful girl painted by a local artist.  It’s the only embellishment in an otherwise ultra-functional space.

Apart from coffee, Axil offers a small amount of sweet pastry treats, displayed very neatly in a wall mounted display cage.  There is also some additional coffee merchandise and of course the opportunity to purchase Axil coffee beans.

It must be noted that this Espresso Bar is located in the new Lyons Architecture designed building, which also houses the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.  And whilst there seems to be almost nowhere to store much in the espresso bar itself, they have the luxury of storage space in their sister café just upstairs in the building co-located beside the Architext bookstore.

The luxury of a small stand up espresso bar is that you don’t need to do much to do it well.  But in saying that Axil have set up a space that serves incredibly high quality coffee and by the amount of people streaming in and out of the place in the short time I was there, the local business community will keep coming back to this kind of coffee establishment.

What could be better about Axil Coffee Roasters CBD Espresso Bar? 

It’s a double-edged sword working out of such a small space.  With only one door into the space, people linger and hang around inside waiting for their coffee.  Which works well to create atmosphere, but it also means that the space can fill very quickly making access to the door sometimes difficult.

When full, it can also get quite noisy, and with no form of acoustic treatment anywhere in this fit out, sound bounces around amplifying conversations to a reasonably high volume, just beyond a comfortable level.

And with only fixed glazing to the façade of this space, there is no opportunity to open the space up and get some fresh air when inside.

What’s its thing?

This is the wonderful combination of beautifully prepared coffee with the understanding that sometimes all people want is that hit of coffee.  Axil Coffee Roaster CBD Espresso Bar caters perfectly for its local clientele, business-types who don’t need to sit somewhere to drink their coffee, but want to pause, inhale an espresso and get back to work.

Defining Design Details

  • The perfect timber leaner – in Tassie Oak and wrapping around the space.  It works well whilst waiting for your coffee, or drinking it.
  • Understanding the workflow – these Axil people know how to make a good coffee, and setting up a space to make sure that this coffee is not only made well, but efficiently takes an owner who knows what they want, and a designer  (Environmental Design STStyle) to design it well.
  • Integrated Art – commissioning integrated art is a bold move.  But when it’s done well it will look great forever.

There is an obvious pride in the quality of the coffee served at Axil Coffee Roasters.  But I think the guys working at this Espresso Bar – Jack and Anthony – also take pride in the space they work in.  And this obviousness was expressed when I asked if I could photograph the space and I was asked if I could wait 5 minutes until the two Baristas tidied up a bit (the counter was already pretty clean by the way) and made it look as good as possible.  This is a great attention to detail.