mp’s rating: coffee – 4/5, food – 4/5

The Hardware Societe (120 Hardware Ln, Melbourne) is located right at the heart of the Melbourne city, and it has been a popular brunch spot for quite a long time. Although I have heard much about it, I haven’t really got the time to search for the place and try the food.

One Saturday, I finally went there with high hopes, as it uses Padre coffee beans, which is one of the best beans in Melbourne as well. I sat on the outdoor area, and I was taken by surprise, as this café surpassed all my high expectations.

I went there at around 11am and the place was full. Totally full. There were a dozen other people queuing outside the café and I was taken aback – is this café that good? Apparently, it is.


My latte came with a heart latte art and in a cup like the ones used for serving cappuccino, instead of the usual latte glass. The coffee had one of the best milk ever. It was smooth, it was silky, and even though I put the coffee aside for quite some time as I was having brunch, the milk didn’t really produce bubbles. Thumbs up for the milk, and I really think it was a winner.

As I was drinking my coffee, I noticed that the cups that Hardware Societe used were different than the other cafes I’ve been into. They have colourful cups and saucers (in blue, yellow, green, purple, etc), and it was really good to see some colours.


crocette egg with crab meat

Poached egg with salmon and asparagus

In one word, it was superb. Although the place was super packed, the fact that my food arrived after 15 minutes was just awesome. I ordered the cocette egg and my friend ordered the poached egg. I thought they would be just like the others’ usual breakfast menu, but I was proven wrong. The poached egg with salmon turned out not to be not with smoked salmon as other cafes used to have, but with cooked salmon with asparagus, and it was very delicious. My egg had crab meat and served with sourdough bread and it was awesome. They had a creative menu indeed and I would totally come back and taste the lunch menu in the near future.

Interior Design

the inside look of the café – a big wooden sharing table on the left and individual tables on the right, and a bar seating right at the back

The café look from the side – cactus, plants, with cups and saucers – very creative!

Among all other cafes that I’ve been into, I guess this is the most creative. It does not have that oldish design or warehouse design as the popular cafes used to have, but it has a mix of quirky and modern design, which really works well for their demographic (I’m assuming people from 18 to late 30s).

It is a colourful café, which makes it very cheerful. It’s quite hard to explain but see the pictures for more details. They have quirky stuffs, such as: the water station using the ‘literal’ tap, modern lamp design (the cable is yellow in colour), knitted ‘teapot’, marble stone tables, a big sharing wooden table, some wooden boxes on the side of the tables to put salt and pepper etc and much more.

I really adore this café for its creativity!


The people were very friendly, and although it was packed and super busy, they still managed to give us a smile and served us the best that they can. They gave the café menu towards those who waited after 10 minutes, which was quite a good strategy. They worked efficiently, and everyone knew what they were supposed to do. Besides, they also took some time to thank each customer and asked how the food was, even though there were a dozen of people lining up in front. That was really the true customer service.


Price, I guess, was worth it for the superb food it was giving. It was slightly pricier ($17 for the egg), but other cafes also have the price range for about $14-$17 for their brunch menu as well.

What makes Hardware Societe different

Café size. What Hardware Societe has done is: having a small café size and make people literally want to wait 20-30 minutes until they get a table, and they make the wait worthwhile. Plus, while all those people are waiting to get to their seats, they have become a free marketing towards other people who walk passed. Not one of the people who come are turning away because of the queue. They wait patiently. I think that’s just: wow.

Milk plays an important role in coffee. For milk based coffee drinkers like me, now I know the importance of the quality of milk (I always think that good milk is enough, but to taste the ultimate latte experience, I need to have the best milk). The milk supplied in Hardware Societe is from Jonesy’s Dairy Fresh of Lachlan Murray Region (they stated it proudly in their menu, which answered my question right before I was about to run and ask the barista!). Seriously, thumbs up for the milk.

Love it!