November 01, 2023
If you ever find yourself in Melbourne strolling through Edinburgh Gardens on a sunny day keep an eye out for Standing Room. After a decade of serving up specialty coffee across Melbourne’s university campuses, the Standing Room team branched out in 2022 and opened up their first off campus cafe. The journey for Standing Room has been a fascinating one.
The journey for Standing Room has been a fascinating one. Founder Thomas Kelly spent most of his life working in cafes when one day, while attending uni, he realised there was no one selling great coffee on campus. Noticing the gap in the market, he opened up a bunch of small coffee spots at Melbourne University, RMIT and Melbourne Central. So small in fact that the clientele could only, you guessed it, stand!
They also fell in love with roasting along the way. Taking full control of where the beans come from and how they’re roasted took their whole operation up a few notches!
Standing Room eventually gained such cult status on campuses that it was a no-brainer to open up the beautiful Fitzroy North cafe where you can get exceptionally roasted Standing Room coffee and choose from one of many creative breakfast dishes. Don’t worry, there are plenty of places to sit in their cafe as well as a large standing table up front if you’d like to quickly sip on your coffee and go!
We caught up with Standing Room Founders Thomas Kelly and Jordan Taylor to talk all about Standing Rooms origin story, their Fitzroy North location and what’s next for the rapidly growing business.
Tell us about you. What’s your coffee background?
We have been making coffee since we were teenagers, working in a busy bakery cafe in Yarraville together. Over the years we fell in love with making coffee and the meaningful interactions you can have working in a cafe. Although, there was a lot of learning involved too! We are super thankful to all the baristas, roasters and friends who helped us out along the way! Now we are lucky enough to roast and sell our own coffee and share those interactions with our wonderful customers across our three locations.
How did the brand/project get started? Talk us through the process and challenges.
While enrolled as a student at The University of Melbourne, I (Thomas) saw there was a gap in the market for cafe quality coffee on campus so I opened up a little hole in the wall selling coffee and cakes to the staff and students. Throughout the years our stores have grown; branching out to different universities, selling coffee in the fast-paced CBD and now our first dine-in location in Fitzroy North. When we started roasting our own coffee in 2020, the final piece of the puzzle clicked… and here we are!
How do you source your coffee beans and what do you look for in the beans you use?
We are lucky enough to work with some great importers who are all very thorough and transparent with their green bean sourcing. All the coffees we buy are traceable back to the mill or farm they are processed at – often to the farmers who produced them. We are always looking for coffees that we think really celebrate the countries and regions they come from and present a lovely balanced cup for everyone to enjoy. We especially love buying the same coffees year on year. It is a great way to support the farmers and families back at origin and our customers really enjoy seeing their favourite coffees return each season!
Aside from at-home, where can our subscribers drink your coffee?
We’ve currently got three locations across Melbourne! Students can find us at The University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus along with RMIT’s city campus. Our newest store in Fitzroy North on St. George’s Road has been open for a year now. It’s a lovely place to stop by for some brunch or a coffee to take to the park! Tell us about what’s in store for Standing Room Coffee for the rest of the year? Any exciting or upcoming projects to note? We’ve got a bunch of new coffees hitting the shelf from Burundi and Ethiopia as well as some old favourites from Colombia coming around Christmas. You also might see us at a little festival in the New Year running an espresso martini bar, keep your eyes peeled!
The Standing Room Team told us all about some of their favourite northside hot spots. We dare you to try and visit them all if you’re ever in the area!
Iris Bakery, Brunswick
This gem may be new to the scene but their Danish style baked goods, especially the killer cardamom buns, really hit the spot! You can’t go wrong with anything from Iris Bakery.
Julie just opened up at the Abbotsford Convent. It’s amazing. Enjoy the ambiance in this heritage interior while feasting on some epic seasonal dishes.
Public Wine, Fitzroy North
Public Wine is more than just a wine shop. It’s down the road from Standing Room and features an amazing selection of natural wines and delicious
This very special Colombian coffee was grown and processed by six smallholder producers that are situated around the town and municipality of Cajamarca, Colombia. Expect the very best of Colombian coffee with this one – lovely clean and crisp flavours, punchy fruits and lots of sweetness. Standing Room also roasted this coffee a little lighter to accentuate the delicious fruitiness and acidity.
Coffee Origin: Colombia
Tasting Notes: Notes of red apple, caramel and honeysuckle
- Dose: 15g to 250ml water
- Bloom: 40g for 40 seconds
- Pour: Slowly pour the remaining water, looking for the brew to finish at around 3 minutes
ESPRESSO & CAPSULE COFFEE
Introducing Standing Rooms go-to espresso blend! Delicious, clean and balanced, its origins change with the seasons but the taste is always satisfying. Currently their Seasonal Blend consists of two coffees in an even 50/50 split – a washed Colombian from Huila, El Desarollo, and a pulped natural Brazil from Bahia, Fazenda Progresso. They roast their Seasonal Blend to pair deliciously with milk, while also being sweet and full bodied when enjoyed black.
Coffee Origin: Colombia and Brazil
- 50% El Desarollo, Huila, Colombia, washed process
- 50% Fazenda Progresso, Bahia, Brazil, pulped natural process
- Colombia: Caturra
- Brazil: Catuai
Tasting Notes: Notes of toffee, macadamia and plum
- Dose: 20g
- Yield: 45g
- Time: 30 seconds