This is the first in a series of city-specific café-hopping guides around the world, based on our articles in Sunday Mail’s Crave magazine.

They say you aren’t a true-blue specialty coffee lover till you make a pilgrimage to Melbourne for some of the best brews in the world. So entrenched is the city’s strong coffee culture with independent cafés and micro-roasters that even international coffee chains have struggled to make a headway here.

No surprise there: Melburnians are fiercely proud of their coffee and rightly so. We visit some of the best cafés in town for our “Down Under cuppa” experience.

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Dear readers, you may have noticed that we have been a bit quiet this month. Let us assure you that, even with home renovations and various deadlines to contend with, we haven’t neglected our café hopping duties in a variety of coffee capitals. Next year, you will see fresh posts on Copenhagen, Wellington, Stockholm, Utrecht, and other caffeinated locales.

Till then, it’s high time we share a few articles that highlight café trends written by Kenny and photographed by CK, all from The Malay Mail Online. Enjoy!

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Hidden in a side alley off the busy Little Bourke Street is a perfect spot for brunch in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. Manchester Press used to be a former gallery, now transformed into an inner-city café with space to spare, unusual for its location.

Owners Issy Shaked and Nir Kalif have taken their experience running Loco Café, another popular brunch destination, and created a must-go (and be-seen) venue for hipsters and students alike. During peak hours, the line to enter can be long but part of the fun is observing the waiting list that is written in chalk on the wall next to the entrance. Every time the names and numbers get wiped off with a wet cloth, there is a collective cheer.

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This “hole-in-the-wall” café might well be the smallest in the city, so here’s a tip: look out for the one with chairs hanging from the ceiling.

That’s right – an entire ceiling of wooden chairs floats above your head as you join the line of suits and ties waiting for their coffees to go at Brother Baba Budan. From the fading, peeling wallpaper to the name (the same 17th-century Sufi mentioned earlier), this café exudes a vintage coffee bar aura.

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Hidden in the somewhat shabby back streets of Collingwood is perhaps the crown jewel of the city’s café scene, Proud Mary. The warehouse-style café was opened in 2009 by Nolan Hirte who has assembled a crew of dedicated baristas, usually skinny, tattooed and bearded (the men, that is), to pump out great coffee non-stop.

The warm red brick walls, communal tables and high stools are matched by a colourful crowd of customers. There’s a vibrant vibe here: these juice junkies eagerly await their orders from the bar that is stocked with all manner of brewing equipment – pour-over, syphon, French press, Aeropress, and even a Clover coffee machine.

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