Seven Seeds @ 114 Berkeley Street, Carlton
14 March 2011
I have been a fan of Mark Dundon’s cafés for some time. While I did not have the fortune of visiting his first café, Ray in Brunswick, the establishment of his previous flagship café, St Ali in South Melbourne, secured my future loyal patronage. For me, Dundon’s cafés – currently Brother Baba Budan and De Clieu along with Seven Seeds – have been particularly notable for the excellence of their coffee. The profound respect for the humble beverage is palpable. Dundon sources his green coffee beans from around the world, roasts them on-site and then delivers quality coffee to the public through either fresh roasted beans or the coffees poured by his adept baristas.
On this occasion, we stopped by for coffees to reinvigorate our afternoon. My espresso was, as usual, well made with luscious, dense crema sitting atop concentrated coffee. Dundon’s espresso blend, which has undergone continual evolution, is very easy to drink – it produces a coffee with light caramel notes and a hint of acidity. PiCi’s piccolo latte was similarly well made, with the slight sweetness of the frothed milk cutting through the residual brightness from the foundation espresso. As always, it came with an intricate rosetta in the milk foam – another reminder of my lack of progress in my quest for latte art perfection.
My only criticism of Seven Seeds is of its meager food selection. The limited number of available food items means that Seven Seeds is not quite the café to compete with Melbourne’s breakfast and lunch powerhouses – Mart 130, Liar Liar, Proud Mary et al – and is not a like for like replacement for its predecessor St Ali. That being said, the items that Seven Seeds does offer – usually sandwiches and pastries – are of consistently high quality. The limited selection is perhaps consistent with the spirit of Seven Seeds where the coffee is intended to be the star attraction. This singular, purist focus can be contrasted with the increasingly diversified and unfocussed offerings of St Ali, which is now under the control of café baron Salvatore Malatesta.
The Mark Dundon name is synonymous with excellent coffee. Given the regularity with which I see Dundon alumni at non-Dundon cafes around Melbourne, cafes which produce quality coffee, Mark Dundon’s contribution to the ever-improving quality of coffee in Melbourne is to be applauded. Seven Seeds only further enhances the man’s reputation. Seven Seeds is the place where I most regularly source freshly roasted single origin beans to feed my slightly worrying caffeine habit and where I always enjoy a well made espresso or ristretto. I cannot see that preference changing anytime in the near future.