Melbourne Laneways and Alleys: Best Worst Kept Secret

Hidden amongst the Melbourne central business district’s highrises and giant modern department stores are cafes filled with old world charm. One such establishment is Cafe Segovia located in Block Place.

Paul Mihailidis, whose son nows runs the cafe, still comes in everyday before 6 am to read his paper and have his coffee. He’s 80. Cafe Segovia and others like it, tucked in the series of alleys which run from Little Collins Street to Flinders Street, as the title implies, are certainly no secret to Melbourne’s locals or indeed savvy visitors.

Now unlike others genre of photography, early morning is not always best for street photography, particularly in Melbourne as I found. My wife is used to me occasionally waking early and on impulse going for a drive or walk with my camera. I expected Melbourne to be bustling with people between 5.30 and 6 am. My assessment was completely incorrect. After through the CBD and seeing a grand total of four people, my mind turned to the Queen Victoria Market, surely butchers and bakers and fishmongers would be about preparing their wares for a busy day of sales. In that I was partly correct and I got to see the butchers doing their thing. Of course, that just goes to show that if you only have a day in a city you need to make the most of it.

One of the attractions I’d been anticipating visiting in Melbourne for some time (maybe 6 months) is a coffee and donut shop, Short Stop Melbourne. Sadly, my visit coincided with their Christmas, so for this time round I would have to console myself with their instagram feed. Serendipitously, I would be returning a couple of weeks later to photograph the first match of the Asian Football Cup, Australia (Socceroos) v Kuwait.

Of course, that meant that I would make my way to Short Stop. Anthony Ivey, the owner and an engineer by trade got into the coffee and donut game through his love of coffee, which led him to leave an engineering job to become a barista in a Melbourne cafe. Along the way, he was the coffee manager for Vue de Monde (no biggie) and then at Market Lane Coffee, whose coffee Short Stop stocks. Short Stop is dedicated to coffee and donuts, but donuts unlike any you’ve seen the like of in Australia. The origin of these donuts is the reason I’ve been following them online for so long and looked forward to finally tasting their wares. Anthony was developing the project basing their donuts on what was available in Melbourne. A donut research tour covering six US cities; San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, New York and LA (and one Canadian; Vancouver) changed all of this for the better. After eating donuts in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, I refused Krispy Kremes when offered them by a friend in Sydney. Once you try Short Stop, you’ll refuse Krispy Kreme as well.

Short Stop uses natural ingredients such as the Australian Honey and Sea Salt Cruller, donut mixes made fresh each day (yeast donuts are only made in the morning and once they sell out, you’ll have to wait for tomorrow). Flavours are experimented with and paired based on rigorous testing I’m sure. My favourite was the Macadamia and Orange Blossom, the orange blossom cream had a delightful light orange flavour. I was also fortunate enough to hang around to try a freshly glazed blueberry donut. The verdict; the only donut better than a Short Stop donut, is a fresh Short Stop donut.

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