Laneways are synonymous with Melbourne’s CBD, just as Melbourne is synonymous with great coffee. So it’s no surprise that an unassuming café located in a tiny laneway alongside Melbourne’s St Paul’s Cathedral, is drawing the crowds. Chapter House, which is named after the laneway in which it resides, offers a picturesque space, with St Paul's Cathedral as a backdrop. Visitors can sit beneath the historical arches, sipping lattes, and enjoying honest food prepared fresh each day by a dedicated team.
It was three years ago when owner, Jo Marazita first conceived of her vision for this low ceiling coffee bar, formerly known as Little King. With the assistance of husband Peter, and Richard Chalabi, whom Jo recruited from her local café; this tiny coffee bar has had its soul brought back to life. It’s a slice of suburbia in the city, where visitors are afforded the opportunity to soak up the surrounds (and caffeine) without feeling compelled to move on.
Be it tourists, corporates, or the general public like myself looking for a decent coffee in town; Jo and her team welcome all with an open-hearted approach. This is exactly what I adore about the coffee culture in our great city. Every member of the Chapter House team serves a vital function, and together they create a unique recipe for success.
They have cultivated goodness at such a rate, that last month Second Chapter was launched on the opposite side of the laneway, catering for the overflow from Chapter House.
Along with catering for iconic city labels such as Dior, and Fendi; chefs work diligently with traditional methods, to provide authentic flavours. Think Prosciutto Piadinas like nonna used to make; Avocado Smash with feta, basil, and Dukkah; Chicken Schnitzel baguettes with mozzarella, roast peppers, and pesto; and Thai Pulled Pork Salads.
Serendipitously, coffee is sourced from Reverence; which seems fitting for a café attached to an iconic Melbourne Cathedral. It’s a symbolic signal of the respect Chapter House has for coffee; as well as the veneration towards their sacred surrounds. Sipping an espresso made from beans sourced from the birthplace of coffee, under the stone arches on a sunny Melbourne day, was an awe inspiring moment.
An entrenched culture of goodness, and respect at Chapter House, underpins the importance of staying true to your purpose. While many are taking the inner city experience to the burbs, Jo has swum against the tide, and mastered the shift of a suburban style café back into the city. Its family centric culture is a poignant difference, in an age of not so social media, where we are more concerned with our screens than with each other. Thankfully, the Chapter House family are more concerned with connecting over a coffee, and a sincere cordiality that feels like a warm embrace.
Find Chapter House and Second Chapter at Chapter House Lane, open week days from 6:30am to 4:30pm.