Words by Arielle Richards
We went along to the venue and this is what we thought.
Upon entering the huge, green, sleek space that is Undercover Roasters HQ, the first thought that came to mind was, “This would be the perfect place to sit down and write this article.”
The venue, opened in October 2020, is beautiful. It has the welcoming, relaxed atmosphere of a co-working space – a mood which is emphasised by the optics, most notably the cornucopia of gorgeous indoor plants that drape across every surface, from lighting fixtures to the walls and tables.
Set in a refurbished warehouse on the Abbotsford side of Victoria Street, where it intersects with Church, Undercover Roasters is unassuming from the outside. Inside, however, it is a sprawling urban oasis.
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When I say sprawling, I mean it – the venue boasts 400 square metres of versatile, functional space, including a coffee training room out back and a private boardroom for work lunches and functions. Adjacent to the central space, a serene vine-covered courtyard beckons, clearly visible through generous floor-to-ceiling windows. The warm sunlight filtering through softens the cafe’s vastness.
I was immediately drawn to that courtyard – there’s just something about a mass of overgrown, bushy vines on exposed brick on a pleasantly sunny day.
The garden feels as tranquil as it looks, with the bustle and furor of Victoria Street a distant memory. Out there, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lauren Aytekin and Aarron Baker from the marketing team, over a couple of delicious cold brews.
“When you do walk through here, it is like a sanctuary, and that’s what we really do want to convey with this venue. It is a place where people come to do work, it’s a corporate space, a leisure space, it’s family orientated. We’re very, very dog friendly,” Baker laughs.
Undercover Roasters is purpose-built to be a meeting space, and a coffee lover’s haven. They’re one of Melbourne’s only venues offering Chemex and V60 pour-over on the menu, and one of the rare places where you can get bottomless batch brew, at a mere $6. This is heaven, especially for those of us with the hot lifestyle combination of a deadline and a caffeine devotion.
The food menu, ‘all day brunch’, is eccentric and exciting, reviving classic cafe fare with a noticeably creative flair. Take the ‘Basic B*tch’ – not your usual avo on toast, with chilli salt, lemon and chlorophyll-infused oil. Creative, different and delicious.
The ‘Shrooms’ toast is sumptuous and savoury, with a medley of mushrooms cooked to perfection in the cafe’s very own smoker out back. Sitting pretty on a generous, chunky slice of sourdough, the rich flavour is offset by a light and sweet chimichurri.
‘The Big Easy’ was highly recommended, and for good reason. The dish’s centrepiece is a delightfully crispy, cheesy potato and rosemary hash, topped with your choice of pulled pork or house-smoked brisket – divine.
Undercover Roasters HQ is establishing itself as a local all-rounder. In addition to loaning out the spaces for functions and events, the space is taking on an edifying role in coffee education.
Soon, Undercover Roasters’ ‘Sensory Sessions’ will be added to their repertoire, for members of the public to come, experience, taste and learn about coffee flavour profiles through cupping and tasting notes.
“Just like a wine tasting only with coffee,” Baker says. “Coffee is just as intricate as wine. There’s a science behind it and behind making good coffee – it’s a beautiful thing.”
Undercover Roasters is more than just a cafe, it’s a hub. Inside, you can purchase all sorts of coffee machines, ranging from your classic affordable pour-over set up, to some very expensive and beautiful machines. You can purchase Undercover Roasters’ full range of coffee, as well as tee-shirts, tote bags and other merch.
Remember all of those stunning plants? Well, they’re for sale, meaning you can take a slice of the cafe’s tranquility along with you when you go. The plants are sourced and selected by Meraki Creationz, who rotate the cafe’s plant stock on a regular basis, providing the space with a fresh new look every week, and the plant enthusiast with a whole new selection to pick from each time they visit.
“This is where we all work from, from the admin to our account managers, this is our hub. And it’s really the hub that we want to create for our local community,” Barker says.
And you can kick back on the bottomless batch brew without worrying about overstaying your welcome.
“With such a big venue, we can turn our tables over comfortably without making people feel like they’re being pressured into leaving. And I think that’s really important. You don’t have to feel that anxiety of, ‘Oh, am I overstaying my welcome…?’,” he says.
“We just want it to be a home.”
Undercover Roasters HQ is open Monday to Friday, for all day brunch until 4pm. Head to their website for more info.