Melbourne’s eXpresso Cafés — Part 2

Perkup Expresso

One of the many downsides to cycling’s affinity with the rich business executive crowd is that for workaholics, fitting café time in around weekday road bunch rides can be a bit of a challenge. This is where eXpresso cafés come to the rescue. Featuring this week is Perkup Expresso Bar in Collins Street Melbourne where you can get a $2 takeaway eXpresso from their walk-up window from 5.30am on weekdays.

Although Perkup reinvented themselves as a burger joint at some point in 2014 (it’s now Perkup Café and Burger Bar), their shop’s humble signage still proudly honours their roots in eXpresso.

The early start means that the CBD-business-executive cycling crowd can get a quick coffee in before their bunch ride, nullifying the need for post-ride coffee, which can be problematic in that it cuts in to valuable profit-making time back in the office.

In terms of cycling accessibility, there’s a bicycle hoop pretty much right outside, plus a good selection of sign posts to lock up to. If you’re one of the privileged few who’s managed to unlock the secrets of the Melbourne Bike Share scheme, there’s even a rack of those a block away on the corner of Collins and King Streets, however it’s pretty unlikely that you’d be taking these out on a bunch ride.

Melbourne Bike Share bunch rides are fairly limited but have included the 2010 Bike Helmet Protest Ride and the 2012 Blue Edge Melburn-Roobaix team.

Perkup use their own signature brand of coffee, or at least their own signature brand of packaging. They have a gigantic, confidence-inspiring green Galileo coffee machine, handmade by BFC Coffee Machines about an hour north of Venice in Italy. It’s a family owned business who proudly claim that every machine’s ‘heart and body (copper boilers, connection tubes and steel housings) are made entirely inside our new facilities in Scomigo di Conegliano.’ More importantly, however, is the fact that their cappuccino maker includes an internal probe:

What better way to relax before an internal body cavity search than with a frothy cappuccino? The BFC Coffee Machines Internal Probe accessory is a favourite with Customs & Border Protection agents worldwide.

While their coffee machine might be autentico Italiano, Perkup definitely haven’t ignored Australian tastes with a vast spread of takeaway coffee cups ranging in size from large to molto grande.

The café interior is colourfully busy and includes a seating alcove lined with music posters, which is very Melbourne. Unfortunately there’s also a flatscreen TV on the wall dedicated to one of those boring rolling café slideshow packages of breaking news and promotional material, which would probably be more at home in Sydney.

Perkup also sell a range of the very decadent Pat and Stick’s Ice Cream Sandwiches, which are produced in Tempe, just near Sydney Airport, which serve to make the flat screen feel more at home. There’s also freshly squeezed juice and a selection of cakes, slices and sandwiches.

Vegans and lactards will be pleased to learn that Perkup offers two soy milk options. For $3.90 you can get a small soy latte made with Vitasoy ‘Café for Baristas’, however there’s a 20-cent upgrade option to the creamy tongue-fondling texture of Bonsoy. It’s nice to get the option, I guess, however $4.10 for a small soy latte is awkardly nudging up on posh — like David Beckam at a red carpet media publicity event.

Vitasoy’s Café For Baristas who aren’t too posh.

My small soy latte arrived in 1-minute and 52-seconds, just 20-seconds off the pace of Hugo’s Expresso — reviewed in Part 1 of this series — certainly acceptably quick and befitting of their eXpresso heritage. However, despite also ordering a Portobello Mushroom Burger, choosing the ‘have here’ option, and receiving a table number, the coffee was still perplexingly served in a takeaway cup.

Perkup sticks to the spirit of eXpresso serving a dine-in coffee in a takeaway cup.

The coffee itself, while not in any way offensive, could best be described as mellow or mild or not very potent — the only aspect of it likely to perk up any interest was the speed with which it was delivered. Perkup Expresso’s overall rating has been boosted by this quick turnaround, the Bonsoy option and their very tasty ice cream sandwiches.

Perkup Expresso Bar overall rating: 3.5 Clooneys

With so much great marketing potential available to them, it would be a smart move for Perkup Café and Burger Bar to bring eXpresso back in to their name. Particularly on social media where #expresso is currently very under-utilised — only about 150k Instagram tags compared with over 1.3m for #espresso. It’s time for Perkup to return to their roots, reclaim this hashtag, and proudly publicise their fast and ridiculously early coffee.

After publishing Part 1 of this Guide To Melbourne’s eXpresso Cafés, requests for more reviews have been slowly dribbling in (not really in the spirit of eXpresso, I admit). If there’s an eXpresso café that you’d like to see featured then eXpressions of interest can be submitted at the bottom of this post.