You can tell from the logo on the signpost alone that specialty coffee is inside. Dukes (seems not to have an apostrophe) has been around for around a decade, but two changes have happened in the last few years: a) they opened their new café flagship in Little Collins St. in the CBD, and b) they sold their iconic and always packed Chapel St, Windsor location to a couple in early December 2014. That location is now called Journeyman and I'll post about it later.
What's special about the CBD location is that even though it's packed, the staff isn't too busy to talk. On the few occasions I've been there I've talked about beans and roasts available, brew method options and their brew recipes. The staff are knowledgeable, friendly, and keen to go out of their way to talk to someone. It's an oasis.
Coffee and brew recipe
I ordered one of two coffees they had from La Fany in El Salvador. They stock a natural process and a honey process, and I ordered the natural in an Aeropress. It was amazing. Not just bright and fruity (strong notes of red berries) but also had a lot of body and chocolatey warmth. Really enjoyable even by those who don't normally drink pourover coffee. The Aeropress really brings it out.
Dukes likes to use a stronger recipe for their aeropress, a ratio of 13.5g of grounds to 200g of water, brewed for about 1 minute 45 total. Their recipe is here (though they say 13g... guess trying to make it slightly easier for everyone else). I am always shocked that they brew at 98 degrees. But there you have it.
The coffee is available for sale of course, either online or in-store.
Dukes isn't a place to crack out your laptop. So don't. There really isn't the space, and the vibe doesn't lend itself to it. Enjoy the coffee, see what's available for purchase, have a chat with a dear friend and then leave and plan to come back.
Overall, Dukes is one of my CBD favourites for its balance of accessibility, friendliness and quality. They sing the praises of other cafés, but this one's a keeper for me.