Today’s Coffee Spot sees us move from Brisbane to Melbourne, although technically we’re in the suburbs, in Nunawading, home to Manta Ray Coffee Roasters. I first became aware of Manta Ray when I visited Pinhole Coffee Bar in Singapore, where Manta Ray was the guest roaster. Then, when I reached Melbourne, I found that Manta Ray topped many people’s must-visit lists. Since I had a hire car for my drive along the Great Ocean Road, I decided to make a two-hour round trip to the east of Melbourne to visit Manta Ray before I set off.
Manta Ray Coffee Roasters, as the name suggests, is both roastery and coffee bar. Although Manta Ray has been roasting for a while, the coffee bar has only been open since October 2022. Despite this, it’s already become a place of pilgrimage for Melbourne’s speciality coffee community. There are two blends on espresso, along with five single-origins on pour-over and some interesting cold coffee options. Naturally, all the coffee is available to buy in retail bags, and while this is rightly the main draw, if you’re hungry, there’s a wide range of cakes and pastries, along with a smaller selection of savoury pastries.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Manta Ray Coffee Roasters is on Beech Street, a quiet side street off the (slightly) busier Rooks Road, both of which offer plenty of on-street parking. With car workshops on either side, you would be forgiven for thinking that you’d come to the wrong place, but persevere and you will be rewarded.
The first clue is the A-board, which promises “Coffee, coffee, coffee” under a drawing of a manta ray. This leads you to a deep porch at the right of a single-storey industrial building with tall glass double doors at the back, flanked by matching windows, which run the full width of the porch. These deposit you in the front, right-hand corner of a large, industrial-like space. open to the A-frame roof. It goes a long way back, with the coffee bar at the front, the roastery behind it, the two separated by a wall of windows that runs the full width of Manta Ray. There’s plenty of natural light, mostly from a row of large skylights along both sides of the roof, supplemented by an impressive light panel suspended above the counter, which is to your left as you enter.
The first thing that struck me was this sense of space and light. Perhaps twice as long as it is wide, everything is spread out and uncluttered. The counter, effectively an L-shape, faces to the right, occupying the middle of the coffee bar, the seating arranged down the right-hand side and along the back. Retail shelves occupy the right-hand wall immediately after the door, followed by a row of five two-person tables running along a bench against the wall. There a further five tables in a row along the windows at the back, this time with chairs which either face the counter or the roastery.
A pair of broad tables run the width of Manta Ray between the tables and the back of the counter. They may possibly be pressed into service as additional seating, but for now they act as a display for various pieces of coffee equipment, including some very lovely cups. Finally, a row of five chairs run along the back of counter, ideal for watching your coffee being made.
The counter starts with a Kees van der Westen Slim Jim espresso machine, followed by the till, where you order and pay. Next come the cakes and pastries in various glass display cases, while the back of the counter is the preserve of the pour-over machines.
Returning to the cakes and pastries, I had a very fine spinach and cheese Danish for lunch, followed (at the barista’s recommendation) by an individual cheesecake for dessert was just as good: rich, smooth and creamy. However, I’d really come for the coffee.
I started with a pour-over, made with using the V60 on one of a pair of OTFES O-41 Kassifa automated machines. These devices are new to me, and consist of an intriguing shower head which rotates and moves above the V60, dispensing water in a series of pre-programmed pours. Rather than describe it further, I’ve included a short video of it in action if you’re interested.
The coffee itself (again recommended by my barista) was the Rafael Vinhal, an anaerobic washed Topazio varietal from Brazil. Served in the carafe, with the cup on the side and a very detailed information card, it was fruity with plenty of body. I followed this with a shot of the light roast seasonal blend, a 50/50 mix of two Ethiopian Gujis, one washed and one naturally-processed. This was very different, with a pleasing acidity, but still smooth.
Before I left, I presented the staff with a choice of the remaining four coffees I’d brought with me from Singapore. However, rather than picking one, they suggested taking samples of all four in exchange for four samples of Manta Ray Coffee, which I gladly accepted. I also bought a bag of the Rafael Vinhal which I took back to the UK with me, where it ended up at Potter & Reid in London.
|12 BEECH STREET • NUNAWADING • MELBOURNE • VIC 3131 • AUSTRALIA|
|Monday||07:00 – 15:00||Roaster||Manta Ray Coffee Roasters (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 15:00||Seating||Tables, Counter|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 15:00||Food||Cake, Savouries|
|Thursday||07:00 – 15:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 15:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 15:00||Wifi||No|
|Sunday||08:00 – 15:00||Power||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||4th May 2023|
For an alternative (but equally enthusiastic) take on Manta Ray, check out this by local blogger, Laura Angelia.
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