So, the bizarre phone call was from Jason, the guy who had been sitting opposite me at Seven Seeds. He got my number when Clare read it out over the phone to a friend of hers with a room to rent. He suggested that we meet up during the week so that he could show me a few more of Melbourne’s secret coffee houses.
This is what it’s like when you travel on your own: you secretly hope that everyone you meet might become your friend. You’re open to new relationships everywhere you go. Everyone who says hello to you in the hostel kitchen, or who smiles when passing you on the stairs, is a potential friend. So even though I was surprised when Jason called, after our brief chat in the cafe I had already been entertaining the idea in the back of my mind that he was friend material.
Coffees here have different names. A short black is an espresso, a long black is an Americano. Flat whites are completely new to me. They look like lattes, but they aren’t. Jason explained that flat whites have about a quarter inch of foam, lattes a half inch and cappuccinos a full inch. The flat white is apparently an Australian invention. Australians have a whole extra shade of coffee that the rest of the world doesn’t know about.
Back home I normally drink Americanos. “Are you drinking a long black?” Jason asked in an incredulous tone of voice that I mistook to mean he was impressed. Even though it was quite bitter, I was afraid to add any sugar because I didn’t want to ruin the impression he had of me as a hard core coffee drinker.
When I met up with him a few days later, I learned that he thinks that coffee should be made with milk. I mentioned that I was thinking of switching to cappuccinos and he said, “Oh good. That means we can be friends.”
We went to 65 Degrees and Brother Baba Budan, both in Melbourne’s CBD. 65 Degrees serves deliciously nutty coffee, but looks disappointingly like a normal café and even has a sign painted on the window (admittedly low down and not in a very prominent position) telling you its name.
Brother Baba Budan, on the other hand, is owned by the same people who run Seven Seeds and is just as difficult to find. There are no signs outside at all. Inside it’s small and cramped (in a good way) and quirky. A canopy of chairs hangs from the ceiling. I really liked the atmosphere in BBB but the coffee didn’t taste that distinctive to me. (Jason told me that the lattes in Seven Seeds and BBB are known as lady lattes because they are quite mild and don’t have “that punch”.) While we were there I overheard a customer gushing over the new house blend: “It’s beautiful, just beautiful.” Maybe one day I’ll appreciate coffee that much too.