Melbourne has a sophisticated cafe culture, and there’s no better place to experience it than at Aunty Peg’s. The cafe-cum-coffee bar, run by local coffee roaster and retailer, Proud Mary Coffee, is located in a repurposed warehouse in a quiet corner of Collingwood – also home to their roasting facilities and the Collingwood Coffee College.
Step into the cafe space and be greeted by a gigantic homely-looking shelf – the kind you may find at a genial aunt’s home – but instead of knick knacks and tea cozies, expect to find coffee equipment, interspersed with the occasional potted plant and tastefully arranged magazines/decor. Over on the right are more shelves, lined with Proud Mary’s range of ethically-sourced coffee beans from Brazil, Colombia, Honduras and Nicaragua, to name a few. The brand takes pride in supporting and representing coffee producers and communities, paying visits to their producers and venturing to their farms, homes and families.
The ‘bar’ area is a setup for 12 with high stools lining a warm-hued, polished wooden countertop. Our group cosied up to a few while our barista patiently ran down the types of coffee beans available and the filtering methods. At the back are three Synesso single-group machines, filters and taps.
For someone who has been chugging cappuccinos and lattes all her life, it came as a slight shock to be told that they only serve black coffee. I was tempted to label it as typical hipster coffee snobbery, but the baristas assured me that its because they are committed to serving coffee in its ‘purest form’.
Look out for the cold nitro brews, the process which is done over several days whereby the coffee beans are brewed, filtered, charged with nitrogen (or argon) and then kegged – just like alcohol. Now I don’t usually drink black coffee because it’s too bitter for my liking, but I was surprised that this was refreshingly crisp and soothing; none of that sandiness you get on your tongue as it slips down the throat. You also get that nice aroma which spreads around your mouth after each sip.
Adding on to the whole ambience was a selection of old records playing nearby, from rap to jazz and 80s MoTown.
Our friendly barista preparing our coffees.
If I remember correctly, their beans for the day was a varietal called Wush Wush, originating from Ethiopia. Like wine, there are coffee ‘notes’ – which state that the varietal shares delicate notes similar to Geshas (a type of apple), Jasmine, lemongrass, mandarin, plum, apricots, honey and possibly rose, whiskey and cinnamon.
There were several ways to have it, including washed, Honey and Natural. I opted for the Honey, which was supposed to have notes of apricot, nectarine and peach with a syrupy flavour. This was rather lost on this coffee noob. That’s also the problem I have with wine tastings – whenever people say that ‘this has an oaky flavour’ etc, I’m like “Oh so this tastes like a tree?” gaddamn.
Sorry, rambled. Back to the topic at hand…
I liked the coffee. It had a creamy foam on top which reminded me of beer, and the coffee itself was smooth and fragrant. I wouldn’t be able to tell you if it was peachy or not though, but it definitely had an undertone that reminded me of honey.
We visited the back area where they stored their beans. These were labeled with name and origin.
A quick jaunt upstairs to the Collingwood Coffee College, where they have classes every week to teach brewing/roasting methods to interested members of the public. There is also a bakery up here which supplies baked treat to the cafe downstairs, but it wasn’t open during our visit.
Large coffee machines at the back of the warehouse.
In short, I think this would be a great place for coffee lovers who want to experience something beyond the commercialised outlets that are a dime a dozen in Melbourne. They are a family run business so everything’s very personal (even the cafe is named after someone in the fam) and the service is very friendly.
200 Wellington St, Collingwood VIC 3066, Australia
Open daily: 9AM – 5PM