Melbourne’s eXpresso Cafés — Part 3

D.G. Expresso

There isn’t much point cycling through The Merchant end of Melbourne’s Docklands. It doesn’t really lead anywhere except for construction zones, corporate office towers, and weird, post-modern exercise parks. But for eXpresso enthusiasts, D.G. Expresso in Merchant Street provides a compelling reason to detour down to this strange, dead-end, urban promontory on your next ride. Thankfully there’s plenty of bike parking directly opposite.

Urban Spoon reviewer Bukko Boomeranger makes some keen observations about D.G. Expresso:

‘This isn’t a “destination” place to go, but for a quick sip and feed, it’s a fine choice. Especially in the “arid Stalinist wind tunnel” … [of] the Docklands.’
White collar fitness — Docklands style. Live your dreams.

Urban Spoon reviewers who quote pre-war Soviet architectural philosophies really add gravitas to their testimonials. Even if, as in this case, they are simply highlighting that it was only ‘up to average Melbourne standards…better than 95% of the cappuccinos that I drank in Canada.’

With 1677 reviews posted (at the time of writing), it’s clear that Bukko Boomeranger has his/her finger on the pulse of the cutthroat and competitive Melbourne dining scene.

‘There were a dozen cafes I had in mind, but every one of them was closed except for Gloria Jean’s, and I’d rather snort a sachet of powdered coffee like it was cocaine than go to another GJ’s.’

Other reviews were a little more enthusiastic:

‘I go to D.G. Expresso regularly and have not once been disappointed.’

— Although this is clearly open to interpretation, especially if taken literally;

‘I go to DG’s for me skinny latte with cinnamon on top.’

— Which probably says more about this eXpresso connoisseur’s highly refined palate than it does about the coffee.

Nestled inside the entranceway to a Woolworths supermarket in the Docklands office tower jungle, D.G.’s is a realistic option for construction workers and the corporate crowd. Basically anybody looking for a bit of takeaway caffeination to help jolt them back in to reality after the ordeal of navigating a Woolworths supermarket at lunchtime.

D.G.’s doesn’t occupy a standalone building. Instead, it’s housed in an island hub, similar to those weird jewellery stalls inside shopping centres, parasitically feeding off Woolworths’ high-value destination real-estate.

It’s not really inspiring stuff, and D.G.’s certainly isn’t going to win any interior design awards, but as we’ve come to learn in this series of reviews, you don’t go to eXpresso cafés for the décor, ambience, or quality of the coffee — it’s all about speed!

Unfortunately it took 3-minutes and 29-seconds for my soy latte to arrive. This was more than 90-seconds off the pace of Perkup (1min:52sec) and almost a full 2-minutes slower than the incredibly swift Hugo’s Expresso (1min:32sec). To be fair, there’s probably less incentive for staff to rush out the ‘dine-in’ coffees, and I’d like to think that they don’t keep their Woolworths-fleeing takeaway customers waiting as long.

My soy latte cost $3.50 (for the small size), and was served in an actual glass (not a takeaway cup). For those who prefer their coffee ‘el grande’, you can get a medium for $4.10 or a large for $4.70.

Although three alternative milk-substitutes were proudly displayed on the counter, my soy latte was unfortunately crafted with Vitasoy (Café for Baristas) with no offer of an upgrade to Bonsoy (as was the case at Perkup Expresso). There was also a carton of Almond Breeze being exhibited which I’m fairly sure had never been opened and served no purpose other than to confuse the staff.

They offer a selection of focaccias, bagels, cakes, and salads but seem to be slightly more renowned for their crepes. A Nutella version will set you back $7.00. The café’s island hub was surrounded by tables on two sides as well as couches for those who like to emit an air of relaxed indifference when indulging in their eXpresso.

The soup of the day was Creamy Pumpkin but I wasn’t game to try.

Served on a saucer with a tiny slice of very average muffin, it’s little extras like this that no doubt added to the wait time on my coffee. It was a nice gesture in that it resembled the Italian tradition of serving biscotti with drinks — although without the pleasant flavour or texture.

The coffee itself tasted predominantly like warm Vitasoy (Café For Baristas), and I’m pretty sure that if you put an Iced Coffee Big M in the microwave you’d end up with a stronger flavour. While it certainly didn’t arouse the senses, at least there was no danger of this coffee offending.

D.G. Expresso offer some good specials, which should appeal to the eXpresso crowd, including the $10 Focaccia and Drink Deal and ‘Hot Dog Fridays — only $3.90 with your choice of sauce!’

Thank God It’s (Hot Dog) Friday!

If you’re the kind of highly-strung eXpresso-maniac who can’t afford to sit around waiting three-and-a-half minutes for your latte, then you’ll be pleased to learn that D.G. Expresso offers an innovative SMS pre-order system.

Imagine the efficiency gains that SMS pre-ordered coffee must have made in the corporate sector. Once they roll out the ‘office-delivery’ service, productivity will go through the roof.

D.G. Expresso’s coffee was far less offensive than Hugo’s, and substantially cheaper than Perkup’s. However, if they are serious about peddling quality eXpresso then they should be serving their lattes in takeaway cups. True eXpresso enthusiasts don’t have time for glass or porcelain, and the spoon and saucer seemed like nothing more than an extravagant time-waster.

D.G. Expresso overall rating: 2.0 Clooneys

Offering refuge from the Docklands wind tunnel and the chance for some post-Woolworths re-caffeination, D.G. Expresso has positioned itself at the cutting edge of contemporary urban dining. With the convenience of SMS ordering and the unbeatable value of Hotdog Friday, there are plenty of good reasons to head down there. You might simply enjoy spending a weekend getting lost in the maze of dead-end streets that have become a feature of this precinct, one which has been ‘up and coming’ since 1989. If you need any more inspiration then look no further than Bukko Boomeranger:

‘Rambling around this place of a Sunday reminds me of one of those disaster flicks where most of humanity has been exterminated and only the buildings are left standing.’

See you there.