Rear 96 Balmain St, Richmond (map)
(aka just down the lane from cnr Balmain St & Walnut St, Cremorne)
Open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm
Closed weekends :(
I've whinged about it before, but one of the few downsides of living in Cremorne is that many of the great little cafes dotting the light industrial suburb are only open from Monday to Friday, which means that Monday to Friday city workers like me never get to visit them.
I wrote about one such cafe, Volley, about 18 months ago (back in those dark days when my beloved local, the nearby Cherry Tree, was closed on Sundays and didn't stock Coldstream Cider). At the time I thought Volley was nice but not particularly memorable. One name change, menu revamp and substantial renovation later, this cafe is looking a whole lot more interesting.
Volley is now called Espresso 3121 (a name my housemate dislikes but I like). I love the redesign of the counter and seating area, with the front section raised a few steps to make the most of the east facing window and the morning sun. The venue can also be hired for private functions.
The shiny concrete floors, hanging lights, exposed brickwork and mounted bike racks reminded me a bit of Seven Seeds, but Espresso 3121 is decidedly more gritty and rough around the edges, less polished and SWPL.
The coffee machine is a La Marzocco and the beans are Veneziano, with a changing single origin on offer (when I went, it was from El Salvador). As well as selling beans, Espresso 3121 also offers a barista training and consultation service. I liked the lengthy coffee menu on the blackboard below.
There is a simple lunch menu (which sadly I may never have the opportunity to sample). Breakfast-wise, there is bircher muesli, Dench croissants and a variety of Dench organic breads for toast (jams, avocado and Vegemite, Nutella etc) and open grilled toasties.
The morning I visited en route to work, I ordered the grilled toastie with Otway leg ham, seeded mustard, tomato, tasty cheese, sea salt and cracked pepper ($7) and was most impressed. Quality ingredients.
C'mon, Espresso 3121, please open for breakfasts on Saturdays! Pretty pretty please?