Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Coffee break: Eclipse

Don’t be fooled by the Collins Street address: the entrance to Eclipse is in Flinders Lane, hidden away at the back of the refurbished Intercontinental Hotel.

Red-brick walls hide a nightclub-like interior, its darkness illuminated by spotlights on the walls. The serving area and Synesso machine dominate the small interior, with a few wooden tables, including two communal tables, and a glass cabinet of pastries the only other furniture of note. There's also plenty more tables outside for those who can't cram inside, and table service is offered.

Queues are long at peak times but the city-cool-chic staff are quick and gracious under pressure. Although most customers take away, the pastries and a lunch menu that has expanded considerably since Eclipse opened, offer a reason to stay in.

But the focus is on the excellent coffee. An aromatic espresso, a rich brew with unsweetened cocoa and woody notes, is a powerful drink, while a toasty, nutty cafe latte is equally masterful: a balanced blend of chocolaty coffee with creamy milk that slips down very easily. Rotating single-origin beans on offer might include a chocolaty Brazilian blend that teases the palate with a brief burst of flavour.

A relative newcomer to the CBD coffee scene, Eclipse is already overshadowing nearby rivals and promises to be a stayer.

7A/495 Collins St (enter off Flinders Lane), Melbourne

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