Cycling and coffee. These two seemingly disparate pastimes have become an icon of the modern day, middle aged, middle class in Australia. Evidence of the growing disposable incomes that have afforded so many the ability to indulge their consumerist ideals with expensive bikes, accessories and clothing that can be put on display at trendy cafes whilst sipping exotic single-origins and eating overpriced eggs.
Melbourne is probably Australia’s best example of the cycling and coffee scene, factors that consistently see the city ranked highly in various liveability surveys including 1st place on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s rankings and 3rd place on Monocle’s Quality of Life Survey for 2014.
One of the best days to go road cycling in Melbourne is Christmas Day. Once the early morning commuter traffic has subsided and countless families sit down to elaborate lunches, the streets are left empty making them perfect for a relaxing road ride. But being one of Australia’s most important public holidays, finding a café that is open can make including coffee in this ride quite a formidable challenge.
With nothing better to do on Christmas Day, I set out to see if it is indeed possible to get a coffee without having to resort to a fairly unappetising, though very affordably priced, $1 Freshly Ground Coffee from 7-eleven?
You cannot deny that this is good value.
First stop was The Bell Jar in Smith Street Clifton Hill, which was unfortunately closed, their front window offering nothing but this sad stolen bike poster.
No doubt Police are still combing Clifton Hill and the surrounding suburbs in search of this generic green fixie that has tragically gone missing. This poster is a great example of how to maximise the chances of finding your stolen bike. Always include plenty of detail that will enable police to easily identify it. In this case you will note how the description includes such important identifying characteristics as gearing (single speed) and colour (green & white).
A block further down Smith Street is the Motorcycle Collision Centre, which any derny motorpacing pilots might be familiar with. After all, it’s not just bicycles that end up involved in those horrific track racing pile-ups.
The ever popular Birdman Eating in Gertrude Street and its sequel Backstreet Eating on the corner of Kerr and Napier Streets in Fitzroy were also both closed. Continuing this theme of sequels, both Alimentari Eatery & Delicatessen (Brunswick Street) and Alimentari Foodstore (Smith Street) were also closed.
On any normal day, you’d probably be forced to queue for a table at Proud Mary in Collingwood, however on Christmas Day it was a very different scene.
Closed—No love at either Proud Mary or their sequel café Stagger Lee’s.
Breakfast Thieves in Fitzroy were closed too, but at least they put some effort in to their excuse for being shut.
Strangely, Breakfast Thieves were planning on re-opening again in 2013, which begs all sorts of metaphysical questions about the linear nature of the flow of time.
Around the corner, Min Lokal was also closed, a heartfelt message in their window wishing customers a “Marry Christmas”—on two separate occasions.
Unfortunately Slowpoke in Brunswick Street was closed, but they are in need of a dishy/kitchenhand/floor person, which is good news for anybody in the job market—at least you know you won’t have to work on Christmas Day.
A crowd massing outside Everyday Coffee in Johnston Street Collingwood was a positive sign and it turned out that they were serving filter coffee until lunchtime with all proceeds going to North Yarra Community Health. By 10am there was already a significant crowd building and although it wasn’t espresso, a much-needed filter coffee certainly helped re-invigorate the search for the real thing.
Desperate patrons resorted to piling their bikes up on top of one another in the mad rush to find a caffeine hit on Christmas Day in Collingwood.
At many normally busy Smith Street cafes like Bebida, Tomboy, Friends of the Earth and Gluttony (It's a Sin) as well as popular South of Johnston in nearby Oxford Street, the message was also clear—CLOSED.
And a similar scene in usually hectic Gertrude Street with Karavan hitting the road for an extended two-week vacation and the roller door at De Clieu defiantly closed.
While there would be no Christmas love at Atomica, thankfully they were opening on Boxing Day although a 10% surcharge dispels any thought of it being a selfless act.
It wasn’t until stumbling across Pavlov’s Duck (at the factory outlet end of Smith Street) in Fitzroy that the search could finally be called off. This café was not only open, but also serving a full range of coffee and food. I’m not sure where the duck fits in to the family of pets made famous by Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov’s famous 20th century Classical Conditioning experiments—maybe it was just there to keep the cat entertained.