Hobba is a Melbourne café that was initially very enjoyable but probably couldn’t maintain the standards across the board over several visits. The chef used to work under the regime of highly regarded, 3 Hatted Vue du Monde, and you certainly see shadows of very similar cooking techniques and recipes inherited from the VdM or Café Vue camp. The group also owns other notable cafes in town and they have a group of loyal followers! Coffee is/was supplied by Five Senses, who naturally also provides support for their expensive 2011 spec Synesso Hydra machine, which from my drinking adventures around town is very capable of making world beating perfect shots! Hobba’s biggest problem is that it promises on paper way more than it really delivers in the result, especially reading that extraordinary and thoughtful menu. They could really do with employing someone to QC their food and coffee and do some taste tests..
Hobba Café -
Not exactly so out of the way, but not that easy to find for a non-local without a car either. In fact not that far away from Dukes Coffee Roaster around the corner only 7-8 minutes walk.
Daily Specialty Coffees roasted and supplied by 5 Senses -
The Single Origin estate coffees seemed decent and unique from most cafes in town.
The house blend was more geared towards the milk coffee crowd and sometimes changes..
Cappuccino without Chocolate Powder ‘Dark Horse Blend’ -
This coffee was really great and came with a 8-9 leaf symmetrical tulip latte art. I distinctly remembered this cup’s flavour as being dark sugary, animal fur, and blackberries and date like. Quite likable. Made by the Barista in the above 2nd pic… ~ 10/10
Espresso, of the same Dark Horse (House Blend) -
Similarly very balanced yet jumping out in your face stuff. More suitable for milk coffees but still balanced enough as an espresso. Bring it on anytime! 8/10
Caffe Latte (Dark Horse blend again) -
Too weak and like the above Piccolo Latte lacked layering, especially when compared to my first visit here. If I haven’t had the really great coffees above using the same blend. I would have CONCLUDED that this blend simply wasn’t great… but after having 2 really high quality coffees I expected some sort of continuity, despite a diff barista on duty or likelihood of beans batch inconsistency! ~ 5/10
Nicaraguan Santa Martha coffee (Aeropress) -
I remembered this to be average. I can never pinpoint if it is a beans, roaster or barista issue or a combination nowadays, as it takes many experiments to eliminate the variables. But this was a bit muted and merely showing any interesting characters ~ 6/10
Smashed Avocado, Persian Feta Cheese, Grain Sourdough with Slow Poached Egg -
The egg is sous vide cooked, borrowing from Café Vue’s technique. It sounded promising but somehow there wasn’t much egg whites and the yoll result was way too runny. The egg was small and there was only one, unlike the press photos. Don’t fix what’s not broken, especially when it fares worse in performance, and just bring back the good old poached eggs anytime! The Persian feta blended avocado was gamily refreshing, but it was mainly that very tiny, coldish and too runny an egg which really let this dish down ~ 6/10
Warilda Belted Galloway Beef Burger, with Pickles, Cheddar, Iceberg Lettuce & Chips – $16
This expectedly was a smallish elegant type of burger, also borrowed from Café Vue.. The chips were commercial ones unlike their hand-cut counterparts but decent. The burger sounded promising but there wasn’t much beef taste and the bun was under toasted, compared to Café Vue or the equally miniature burger at Trunk. If you intend to replicate your ex-exployer’s burger and make it so small in the process, at least make the equivalent quality of one. ~ 6.5/10
Quite a few cafes get their caneles from the same supplier in Melbourne, which is largely inconsistent as I found out… Generally they lack that vanilla and rum taste, and only when you receive the darker coloured ones will you get that authentic caramel crunch. This one here today was soft, not reheated and tasted weak. The ones from Dench Bakery or Innocent Bystander were a notch above here, and this particular one is not remotely close to the French ones in taste and texture (but sometimes they make better ones). ~ 3/10
Bali Kintamani Espresso -
May be I was expecting miracles from an Indonesian coffee that wasn’t from Sumatra, and I’ve had some great single estate coffees from Indonesia. But recommended by the barista on duty, out came an Indonesian single origin which tasted exactly like a Sumatran and not really suitable as an espresso, but more suitable for base blending… ~ 6/10
After several visits,
I was flabbergasted that my first visit was actually the best experience, as that coffee was very excellent.. but other visits yielded average or below average beverages. What is eerie is that this is reminiscent of my numerous re-visits to Auction Rooms. But at least the food there was great everytime despite the many weakish coffees. The menu sounded VERY promising with ingenious recipes, but perhaps we ordered 2 of the weaker dishes. The slow cooked egg, singular, simply didn’t work and for that matter my similar egg in Café Vue was actually better. And my burger was also much better at the latter… And visiting here you also naturally draw comparison with Dukes Coffee Roasters’ unbeatable egg dishes just 5 mins away.
Breakfast Tea -
We actually ordered tea instead 1 day,
we just wanted to stay away from the coffee for once. We caught glimpses of hope for a perfect coffee before, but don’t know what had happened ever since…
Price: AUD $4 to $25
Ease of Access: 2/5 (10 mins walk from tram or train station, easier via car)
Food: ♕♕♕ 1/2
Coffee: ♕♕ - ♕♕♕♕♕
Open 7 days - 7am – 5pm (Kitchen closes around 4pm)
Address: 428 Malvern Rd, Prahran
Ph: 9510 8336