If you’re forever searching for a place beyond the northern suburbs or the CBD that combines consistently great coffee, poached eggs and service, we may have your answer. Collective Espresso, a small but ever-busy café in Melbourne’s leafy Camberwell, is one such establishment.
A favourite among locals and a delightful surprise among newer visitors, this lovely little hub is scoring major foodie points for an oft-overlooked suburb.
Owner Julien Moussi and his sister Monique bought the popular café two years ago. They are no strangers to the evolution of the Camberwell area, with Moussi owning many of the suburb’s best establishments – My Other Brother, the newly opened Legacy, and Boss Pizzeria, with more opening soon. It’s clear Moussi knows café culture, which is reflected in the quality fare and service at Collective.
“Collective is and always has been a fun place to go to. It’s not just about the coffee and food – the atmosphere, vibe, tunes and our great staff set it apart,” Moussi says.
The menu changes seasonally with on-trend staples that include smashed avocado, acai bowls, hotcakes, house-cured fish, herb-crusted schnitzel with Asian slaw, tempting house-made doughnuts and small batch coffee.
We should reveal at this point that Collective Espresso is our local, so we’ve eaten our way through much of the menu. These are our favourites:
Crunchy, golden cauliflower fritters with tomato chutney, goat’s cheese and avocado. These fritters aren’t floury and dry but gooey in the middle, providing a worthy vessel for the avocado, creamy cheese and lashings of sweet, smoky chutney. Add a burst of yolk from a properly poached egg and voila! Instant joy.
The porridge on offer is made with chia seeds, coconut and oats, the combination rendering this more a light breakfast dessert than your classic gluggy porridge. Cranberry and orange-poached pear, strawberries, blueberries and passionfruit give a refreshing aspect to this dish, and the edible flowers provide a cheery aesthetic appeal.
We know, we know, smashed avocado has been done to death. But Collective’s version of this combines fetta and avocado with lemon, dill and mint which haven’t been mashed into a grey sloppy mess, so each creamy element maintains its structure atop crunchy sourdough toast.
Collective Espresso is one of Melbourne’s brighter stars and, guaranteed to change the minds of Melbourne’s most notorious northsiders, is well-worth a visit to Camberwell.