Humans, huh. We've evolved from swamps, washed the mire from our bodies, developed opposable thumbs and then started swiping them across iPhones to unlock them every few minutes. Importantly, we've managed to mentally advance to the immense challenge of doing two things at once. Multitasking is no longer just a fib on your resume regarding your skill set, it's something we engage in with our day-to-day lives. When you're watching movies and playing spider solitaire on your laptop? Multitasking. Cooking dinner while listening to your pal's dating woes on the phone? Multitasking. Looking at your Facebook while you are out at dinner with a friend? Multitasking, you jerk.
Café and hospitality providers around Melbourne are taking notice of people's numerous needs, and are providing a variety of one-stop shops so you can knock over several tasks simultaneously, including the arduous and daunting chore of eating delicious food and drinking amazing coffee. Whether it's running errands, engaging in hobbies, or fixing your life, this marrying of various ventures provides for us complex swamp creatures with plenty of attention to give.
Captains of Industry
Down a back alley way, through an unassuming door and up a wooden staircase lies the dapper and dashing Captains of Industry. The inner city spot houses a cobbler creating bespoke footwear and leather goods, a barber-shop for the modern man (although women are welcome, also), a made-to-measure menswear suiting service and a light and airy café, all arranged together neatly in the comforting, uncluttered space. By marrying their various ventures, the cobbler, the barber and the menswear suit maker create their own spruced up little world, where neat and dapper staff members serve you with sound manners and a smile. Delicious, crusty rolls with interesting fillings like blue cheese and pear, or chicken poached in bay leaf stock, are to be enjoyed at one of the large communal tables or on a stool propping up the window and overlooking bustling Elizabeth Street. With so many old-world creature comforts at hand, it's easy to pass the time while the gentlemen treat you to their services and expertise.
Level One, 2 Somerset Place, Melbourne
The Little Mule Cycle Co. & Café
Cadel Evans apparently did something, once, then Melbourne threw him a street party and now bikes are bigger than ever before. Bringing together bicycle and café culture, Little Mule Cycle Co. & Café is just two shakes of a tail feather away from Captains of Industry, so you can pedal your penny-farthing over, put your wheels in for a service and settle in with a coffee to admire the gallery of bicycles hanging like art on the walls. There's food too, with Little Mule sourcing their ingredients locally and daily, giving the hungry public a range of fresh toasties, baguettes and shakes to re-fuel for the ride home. TGIF extends its meaning as every Friday there is an 18-hour slow-cooked pulled pork sandwich for you to knuckle down with. Beyond just whipping up delicious food, the servicemen on hand can pull together a custom made fixie for you in their bike shop. Can't get more Melbourne than that.
19 Somerset Place, Melbourne
In the continually blossoming North Melbourne, which hosts a range of great cafes, bars, eateries and shops, uncomplicated Wooly Bully claims to be for people who like stuff. All sorts of stuff, really, but it caters especially to those who split their spare time between records, comic books and coffee. With a 'no CDs' policy, you can move your mitts through the carefully curated record offerings including "weird stuff", plus some garage, punk, classic curve balls and heaps of local LPs. Graphic novels and comic books are either vintage freak-out kooks, classic and contemporary undergrounds, plus one-shots and series. The menu is simple and modest, but mega cute, and the coffee is expertly blended to give you the same level of animation as is nestled in the comic books you pick up.
104 Errol St, North Melbourne
Soul Food Café
Soul Food Café evolved from a wholefoods grocery store on Brunswick St, which decided to set up a small coffee spot in its leafy back courtyard over 25 years ago. Its popularity forced the grocery store to set up shop in a much larger premises on Smith Street, and the café eventually equalled its grocery store counterpart. Now the two siblings sit side by side to cater for those seeking food to cleanse their souls, whether in its unprepared form from the grocery store or chosen from the vast and varied café menu for a meal prepared lovingly by experts. The restaurant is a meat-free zone and they stock organic and vegan wines and beers. If you're like me and you only do your groceries when you are literally too hungry not to, a great option is stopping in to Soul Food Café for a huge, health-conscious feed before heading next door to stock up for the following few days.
273 Smith St, Collingwood