Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dukes Coffee Roasters - (Melbourne)

  When people ask me for advice on where is the best coffee, I often find that question uneasy to answer as my preferences might not be the same as your tongue, so I need to guess what they like based on what they already like!   Plus,  our palates probably evolve with age and is work in progress,  and there are simply too many other variables involved.   Any café can have irregularities and whilst to me a less than optimal experience might be acceptable once or twice,  to another customer they won’t be returning so soon!    Dukes Coffee has made me some of the best coffees I’ve ever drank in my life (and I’ve perhaps drank really too many here or at some other particular cafes),   but if you come to order a normal Caffe Latte and expect a miracle,  it probably won’t wow you as much as they have wowed me,  because I also drank a lot of black coffees here which were utterly amazing and I honestly think their milk coffees need to be ordered as strong here!    There is however one thing that I can wholeheartedly recommend here because when it comes to this food item we all speak the same common language -  their egg dishes here are simply astonishingly good,  and it will make Bill Grangers in Sydney worry,  especially when he unbendingly insists on only serving mediocre quality scrambled eggs too diluted with cream.   Australian Dairy Café or Wah Sing in Hong Kong has better scrambled eggs,  but Dukes Coffee Roasters is in a league of its own and trumps them effortlessly… 




Roasting beans regularly on site..



Breakfast Items are only served before 12:30pm on Weekdays




This Kees van der Westen designed, La Marzocco Mistral -
Is also used in Sydney’s Mecca Espresso and shares similarities to The Mirage at Toby’s Estate,  and all of these not surprisingly resembles the look of the original Speedster..  The quality of the cup is very good,  it seems to have a bigger body but also the clarity of a Synesso.




House Blend Espresso -  
This was a beautiful daily type of espresso shot, a God Shot level of shot and remembering that for every coffee drinker,  attaining that elusive God Shot level in our eyes has been on the rise for the last few years !!   It was really balanced and well structured carrying a little bit of everything.  No sharp drop offs encountered either way.  ~  10/10




Panama Los Lajones Estate  (Siphoned) - 
With a mixture of Pacamara, Caturra, Yellow Catuai, Geisha, etc,  all honey processed.  This is a highly rated non-Geisha Panama,  but for me this seemed a bit muted.  I’m not a fan of honey process as of late for same reason for filtered coffee,  whereas Espresso usually seems fine   ~  6/10



Dairy Fridge -
Mostly locally made and quality ingredients.  Enviable.


Mount Zero Salt flakes -
This company also makes Olive oils.   A little more about marketing than taste IMO.



Windsor ‘Chivito’,  our version of Uruguayan classic steak sandwich – $19
Note how they disclose properly that this is the Windsor version not necessarily the traditional Uruguayan version,  which is what any responsible shop should do as otherwise it misleads the customers!    This like the original version is served with a Churrasco beef fillet,  and sandwiched between around 8 layers of ingredients so expertly sliced thin,  including shaved ham, egg, steak, tomato, beet, lettuce, rocket, cheese, pickles, etc.  This was a very sophisticated sandwich and even the bun was surprisingly aromatic !    ~   9/10




Potato Roesti and Scrambled eggs on Sourdough Toast -  AUD $13.50
The scrambled eggs here are done expertly and still slightly runny and subtly herbed,  and the egg yolk is very orangey (carotenoids?) and has great flavours.  Now this is what I call good scrambled eggs,  it is so different from Bill’s, which are overly creamy like the hotel buffet versions.  The potato roesti lost out to the ones served at say Proud Mary or Dead Man Espresso,  as it was too dense and not crispy at all.   ~   8/10




Normal Cappuccino (House Blend) -
This looked pretty and with such a great espresso above,  I expected a lot.  But the espresso was too balanced and mild to cut through the very velvet milk.   This is a little weak and more of a morning drink.  Which goes back to what I said before -  artisanal coffees are too good to be drank with milk,  hence sometimes loses out to commercial or Italian coffee in my opinion.  Solution?  Try ordering strong first or a smaller drink, like Piccolo Latte.   ~   7/10




P1210847-1Panama Los Lajones Espresso -
Same as the siphoned coffee above,  this was better with more obvious tropical fruits but still seemed a little muted.  When comparing orange to orange,  read non pure-Geisha beans from Panama,  the also highly rated Panama Elida Natural  drank at Mecca Espresso was much more interesting.    ~   6.5/10 



Sidamo ‘Guji’ Operation Cherry Red,  Espresso -
God Shot, 2 in 1 visit.   The aroma within this coffee could be smelt from 3 feet away,  it was that intense!   The OCR beans have a distinct character in the nose which reminds me of the top Panama Geishas but less lemony.   Having tried this bean at so many cafes,  the Dukes Coffee roasted version was easily the odd out one and really brought out it’s true potential.  This was easily 3 times the intensity of the next best OCR shot I’ve tried,  and this carried over to the Siphoned version as well.    ~   12/10




Coffee Rack - 


Sidamo ‘Guji’ Operation Cherry Red, Siphoned -
On another visit, came back to try their amazingly roasted Guji OCR as a siphon.   Notice the reddish with a purple tinge colour of the drink,  because the same coffee drank in Taiwan/Hong Kong is much more yellow and the flavour profiles are quite different.   This had an intense aroma of Cascara like fruit,  and in the mouth it is very well balanced between berries, orange, rose and was almost tea like but pungent.  The clarity for a natural coffee was just so intense in this cup.  The really strange thing is that drinking the same lot of beans roasted in Asia tasted so different from its full potential so far...   ~   10/10



Truffle Poached Eggs, Pan Roasted Asparagus,  Asparagus Crudites, Salmon Roe,  Brown Butter Emulsion, Ciabatta Croutons – AUD $18
This dish isn’t very Dukes to me as it is a bit too fanciful,  but the egg as you can see was again amazing and cooked neatly.  The butter emulsion with the truffled background and salmon roe was decent,  the 2 asparagus textures working well.  But the croutons were a bit too hard,  and without proper bread it wasn’t overly filling.   ~   7.5/10


El Salvador la Batalla COE,  Espresso -
Ranked around no. 5 to no. 8 in the COE program.  Under the hands of Dukes,  this was simply another amazing God Shot!  There is a floral note to a subtly spiced,  muesli like background to a champagne like acidity beneath,  which left a grape acidity finish for a long long time.  Its acid will freak out a few people but I just found this shot very educational,  as it was actually ‘balanced’ somehow but so long lasting!    ~   12/10



Daily blend of Guatemala, Brazil and Sidamo,  Espresso -
This was decent,  tasted quite similar to the house blend.



Caffe Latte - 
A bit weak again



Johnny Appleseed Blend,  Long Black -
Was told this blend works better as a long black.  Thought this was not as good as some of the best siphoned or espresso cups above.


Scrambled Eggs with Mushroom -  $13.5
Yes more eggs.  Slightly more creamy and therefore quite a bit too runny this time,  but still decent.  ~   7/10



Avocado Hummus Toast, Poached Eggs, Honey Candied Bacon and Dukkah spice – AUD $18
Friend ordered this and it was addictive.  The Avocado with Hummus as a spread and the candied bacon especially.  Eggs were still cooked well as expected.   ~    8.5/10




House Blend Piccolo Latte -
A little stronger in performance



Costa Rica Herbazu,  Espresso -
This is a Red Honey processed Pulp Natural bean,  which leaves even more mucilage left on and therefore visually the external parchment dries to a reddish colour.  This seems to be popular but this cup was to be was good rather than as amazing as the other shots above,  so excuse me as I can’t remember much details anymore.  Still decent but not memorable anymore...  

Strong Cappuccino -
Ordering strong milk coffees is the way to go here.


Dukes Breakfast – $18
Scrambled Eggs again,  great quality bacon,  spinach, mushroom, roast tomato.  The other things don’t stand out so much compared to other cafes,  but the eggs here always do.   ~   8.5/10


Poached Eggs,  Thyme Hollandaise, Spinach and Bacon on English Muffins -  $17
Thank God someone is doing Benedicts on muffins not sourdough toasts!   Huge difference in the final taste.  The bacon and spinach were top quality,  the hollandaise sauce was also nice and tangy and eggy,  topped with micro herbs.  Definitely one of the best Benedicts in Melbourne.   ~   10/10



Panama Los Lajones,  Espresso -
Again.  Just to see if the above 2 siphon or espresso of the same beans were duds.  But this espresso also remained lacking in characters to me.  I think I’ll stick to their House blend,  Sidamo Guji OCR or their El Salvador La Batalla. 


Panino of Slow Braised Beef Cheek, Mustard and Daikon Slaw – $15
The above Chivito sandwich was excellent,  and so was this Panino which came with pickles that reminds me of Basque guindilla.   The cheek was cooked and seasoned perfectly,  and the daikon slaw a perfect pairing to go in the panino bread.  The mustard was a little strong but it was interesting with the strongish beef cheek.   ~   9/10

Strong Cappuccino -
How many coffees have I had here?   I am always exploratory !


Strong Caffe Latte -
Another one.  Remember to order strong!


…Memories of their Coffee Beans
As take-away.



Greatly missing their Dark Coffees the most,
Their Scrambled or Poached Eggs (available before 12:30pm weekdays, all day Weekends),
and their superb Sandwiches.   The milk based coffees meanwhile are more ordinary due to the nature of their focus on great single origin bean coffees.




Price: AUD $35 per person
Food: ♕♕♕♕♕
Coffee: ♕♕♕♕♕ – ♕♕♕♕♕♕  (depends on what I ordered!)

Opening Hours:
Mon – Sun   7am - 4pm Daily

Address:  169 Chapel Street, Windsor,  Melbourne VIC 3181
Ph: (03) 9347 2998


  1. You truly are a coffee/cafe junkie! Hahaha always trying all these cafes the dukes breakfast looks fantastic i think i'm hungry again ~

  2. I was so addicted to here indeed! Mostly their eggs, sandwiches and black coffees.

    Milk coffees were a little weak to my liking but order strong and you're on the right track, I guess : )



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