That Café in Florence we can’t stop thinking about

May 23 2024, 12:27
It feels a bit like London and a bit like Paris, a bit like Melbourne and a bit like Berlin. You are everywhere and nowhere, but no matter where you come from or what language you speak, at Melaleuca, you feel at home

Florence currently has the highest concentration of specialty coffee shops in Italy. Especially considering that the city is not that big, not compared to Rome or Milan. The one that stole my heart, in particular, was Melaleuca, an American/Australian-run bakery where nothing is left to chance, starting with the beautiful atmosphere and the wide variety of offerings that allow you to take a world tour with a view of the Arno. This alone would make it an unmissable stop, but there’s more. Much more.

Melaleuca, an International Café in Florence

I admit it, I have a soft spot for Florence, especially for its cafés. To give you an idea, let me share a brief personal anecdote: one afternoon many years ago, when Ditta Artigianale, a roastery that set the standard in Italy, was still the only game in town, I got off a train bound for Rome just to have a filter coffee on via de Neri, at a time when specialty coffees were still a distant dream. I only discovered Melaleuca in January 2024, during a frantic coffee tour in pouring rain, starting with the scent of oat flat white (my personal obsession) and pistachio babka.

Every café I visited deserves its own story (which might come someday), but the address on Lungarno delle Grazie stayed in my memory more than any other. So much so that three weeks later, I bought another train ticket to see if it was just a crush or true love (spoiler: it was love).

A place where everyone can feel at home

Crossing the threshold of the café, you immediately feel welcomed: maybe it's the Nordic, international atmosphere that is anything but cold, with warm wooden tones that are not sterile, or maybe it's the attention to every detail, from the outdoor veranda with plants and string lights to the kindness of the many waiters rushing to take orders. This level of hospitality is certainly not to be underestimated. From the counter emerge sumptuous pastries and fragrant croissants, people linger at tables over pancakes and French toast, and the kitchen sends out aromas from all over the world. Conversations in countless languages can be heard between the chairs. You feel a bit in London, a bit in Paris, a bit in Melbourne, a bit in Berlin. You are everywhere and nowhere, but in any case, whatever your origin or dialect, at Melaleuca, you are at home.

Specialty coffee, pastries, and fast service

I must admit, I know almost nothing about the bakery’s history or its owners. But to be convinced, you don't need big stories, just a well-made filter coffee (with beans from D612 Coffee Roasters), a homemade chocolate and caramel palmier with perfect flakiness, an inviting counter, and big smiles. No rush, take your time: you queue in front of the till while the waiting staff take your order, because the sense of calm here is not synonymous with slowness. On the contrary, the service is quick, attentive, and efficient, even for those ordering at the table.

A great brunch in Florence

From the counter, you can choose cookies, babka, pain au chocolat, cinnamon rolls (unbeatable), carrot cake, and the best of the Anglo-Saxon repertoire. The real highlight, though, is the plated breakfast, starting with pancakes with mascarpone, strawberries, and dukkah (a spice, seed, and nut blend typical of Ethiopia), moving on to avocado toast on sourdough bread with green harissa, eggs Florentine (the vegetarian version of the classic Benedict, with spinach instead of bacon), and then a range of tasty tacos, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Everything is seasoned with an "Aussie" (Australian) touch and accompanied by a parade of coffee beverages and soft drinks, as well as cocktails and glasses of wine.

As mentioned, Florence has the highest concentration of specialty coffee shops in Italy. They are all beautiful, diverse, equally important, and extraordinary in their own way. This, however, is the story of Melaleuca, of which I know nothing but can't stop thinking about. If this isn't love at first sight...

Melaleuca - Firenze - lungarno delle Grazie, 18 -

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram