Standing Room

August 21, 2013

G02a Union House, University of Melbourne, Parkville

Yep, so, my dream of having a small coffee shop on campus has finally come true. I had a dream, of a place run by students, friendly and approachable, and most importantly, serving good and accessibly priced coffee. As an ex-economics student, it’s the lack of competition in the campus coffee industry that has been getting my goat. Too many oligopolies producing cups of burnt, over-heated spew.

As a human being, it’s the lack of good coffee apart from Kere Kere and Seven Seeds (and you all know how I feel about that) that has been incredibly frustrating. I’ve been at university for five years now and this dream has finally eventuated, and I’m very excited to be writing about it!

Who’s responsible for all of this splendour? It’s this guy right here, Tom Kelly. Ridiculously down to earth and very friendly, Tom opened up Standing Room coffee in Union House on the main campus just in time for the start of semester. It’s clear that he loves what he’s doing, and especially enjoys chatting to students as they come in for coffee. It’s been a bit of a sea-change for Tom, who just last year was on the other side of the coffee machine, yet another caffeine-frustrated student on campus.

Having deferred his undergraduate degree to pursue his coffee business, Tom has been working the machine at Standing Room since it opened. Extensive paperwork courtesy of Melbourne University (cheers, guys) had delayed the opening somewhat, with approval for the ground floor space originally coming through in February this year. Several months and a slick renovation later, Standing Room is kitted out to serve the humming mass of students on campus.
And humming they are! In the fifteen minutes I was there, there was always a ten-strong queue of people keen for a lunchtime caffeine hit – clearly this place is already a favourite. Smooth but gutsy, the Five Senses Dark Horse blend, pulled on a slick silver Synesso, is a crowd pleaser.

The design of this hole-in-the-wall cafe was done by McManus Lew Architects, who Tom initially got into contact with through an ex-tutor (and architect) Fiona Lew. They’ve done fantastic work with the place: the design is slick and minimal with a white colour palate and excellent use of the small space. An illuminated icon with the letters ‘SR’ sits, centred, on the back wall, and a beautiful copper shelf, made by Tait, houses the cake collection.

Mexican chocolate came recommended, and I was tempted by the quince, but ultimately I was swayed by Tom’s assertion that the orange and almond was his favourite. Made by Hapsburg Empire in Albert Park, the brightly hued sponge was moist and citrusy, and the whipped cream particularly indulgent.

Well caffeinated, I returned to class, orange and almond cake in tow. It was exactly the pick-me-up I needed during a dry Corporations Law class (sorry JS). Next time you’re at Melbourne Uni’s main campus, pop into Standing Room for a visit and a flat white!

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