Proud Mary Café, Collingwood

Posted on by snoffeecob


This is a café I’ve felt I should try out for a long time. The name Proud Mary seems to be well-known around these parts, and it always seems to be brimming with people. Normally that’s a good sign when it comes to such establishments. The patrons are fancy, young, and extremely shiny. I wonder what it’s like!

A few friends and I went there for lunch one day last week, and the staff seemed friendly enough. We were promptly seated (thankfully, because it was bucketing down outside, as usual for Melbourne. I should probably start a Brisbane Coffee Sucks blog and move there!).

The coffee menu had two bean options for espresso (although it was lumped with drip and pour-over, too). Both entries mentioned a juice-bomb or mango or bright citrus or other such delights/horrors, so I took the hint, deciding to judge this book by its cover and have coffee at home. My friends were undeterred, and ordered filter coffees (I believe the antipodean term is “batch, bru”). Since we’re all filthy hippies, I tasted theirs, which saved me committing to an entire mug’s worth.

First, a little aside on that batch, bru. Previously I lived in a northern European country that will remain anonymous for the purposes of this discussion. For about 38 years, in fact. Anyway, there they are in the habit, and have been for quite some millenia, of brewing drip/filter coffee using the venerated Technivorm machines. The resultant coffee is quite unexciting, predictable, and consistent (not to mention the epitome of convenient!), but can really be quite excellent. When brewed with a sufficient dose of good dark roasted coffee, it can be punchy, and definitely very satisfying on those interminable arctic nights. They don’t do this anymore of course, because hip angloes the world over have since bought up all of those machines, labouring under the misapprehension that this will instantly roll up their trouser legs for them and give them an irresistible air of scandi-svelte.

I digress — let’s get back to Proud Mary’s batch, bru. I tasted it, but for a moment it wasn’t clear I was drinking coffee. Perhaps my friends had ordered herbal tea by accident? The drink was hot, and the water was tan, but it reminded me of that time I bought a quart of coffee in a styrofoam cup from a lady in a caravan under a bridge at Jamaica Station for $1, then had to wait a half hour before it had cooled down sufficiently to be able to drink it, only to find that the single thing it had in common with coffee was that it was brown and wet. The truth is, Proud Mary’s was a bit better than that, primarily because it wasn’t served at 99°C. But it tasted like brown water with potpourri mixed in. Very aromatic, it’s true. But I’d hoped for coffee, not a deep massage experience. I guess I just prefer bold coffee that isn’t afraid of having an uncompromising flavour to it.

Come to think of it, perhaps my friends had accidentally ordered a herbal tea — the waiter wouldn’t have been able to tell either way, since the music was pounding to such a degree that we were reduced to lipreading. That’s probably why all the coffees came with a little postcard from a Peruvian farmer or whatever, because if the waiter had tried explaining what we were drinking it would’ve been inaudible miming anyway.

Anyway, it was lunchtime, so we had to eat: verily, the flesh is weak. I ordered a tofu scramble on roti bread, which sounded very tasty. Naively, I thought that would be a safe choice. Unfortunately, the plate was swimming in oil. The flavour was good though, it has to be said. Oh well, I guess you can’t win ’em all. To Proud Mary’s credit, all the staff were very friendly — that aspect was literally the only thing I’d come back for.

All in all, this is one to avoid if you like coffee!

Highly scientific score breakdown:

  • Staff friendliness: 5/5 cups
  • Insufferable hipness: 1/5 cups
  • The actual coffee: 1/5 cups
  • The food: 1/5 cups