Cafe Reviews

Jewel down a back alley: Monk Bodhi Dharma (Melbourne, Australia)

Disappear from Melbourne for a couple of years, and on your return there are suddenly new darling roasters with ultra hip espresso bars down back alleys everywhere.

There are just too many to catalogue in a few short days a year, so here's one: Monk Bodhi Dharma. The sibling cafe of Admiral Cheng-Ho in Abbotsford.

Nestled down a back alleyway in Balaclava, it's a little hard to find unless you are really determined. It's basically at the back of the carpark next to Coles. Not a terribly glamorous location, but it's what you do with it.

The crew at MBD have made a tiny space into a little haven of amazing espresso. I'm not usually one to drink single origin espressos if it's the first time I have a coffee. I believe one should try a normal brew (pourover or french press or whatever) to understand the coffee first before diving into espresso. But heck, I was on holiday, up for anything and they talked me into it, so I took the plunge.

The shot they pulled me was of a Rwandan that they had. It was late in the day and they'd actually run out of stock of a lot of beans (which is a great sign - they don't let stuff get stale!). The shot was crisp, sweet, bright and tangy... really amazing. So much so that I started to wonder if I should do this SO espresso thing more often. I definitely should, at least to round out my understanding of how some coffees taste.

Plus, in that afternoon light, it just looked pretty special.

Single origin espresso at Monk Bodhi Dharma

The ambience is cute, definitely a talking kind of place, not where you'd go to study or crunch away on a laptop. There's an almost exclusive focus on SO espressos and derivatives.

The (slightly washed out) ambience at Monk Bodhi Dharma. Focus on espresso.

MBD are open Mon-Fri from 7am-5pm and on weekends from 8am-5pm, at the back of 202 Carlisle St in Balaclava.