In the 22 years I have been in Melbourne, like many inner suburban inhabitants I have developed a taste for a "good coffee". Over that time there have been a small number of coffee shops that qualified as regulars. But the clear favourite over all those years has been Pellegrinis at the top end of Bourke Street. Why? I was introduced soon after I arrived and was at first intimidated by the gruff, almost unfriendly service from those on the other side of the counter.
But you went for the coffee. And over time those gruff characters behind the counter became familiar. Eventually after something like 10 years, Cisto (one the the co-owners) actually called me by my first name. Surely I had arrived.
And while the coffee makers changed over time - and some were terrible - you could usually rely on a consistently "good coffee". Some were fantastic. But you came to learn that these people had lives beyond Pellegrinis - and sometimes those lives had very rough periods. Sometimes they left altogether to regain that order and balance.
Currently Pellegrinis is going through what would have to be called a crisis. During the week the good coffee makers are just not there any more. The coffee is most often so-so and sometimes worthy of missing altogether. So we have strayed in pursuit of the "good lunch time coffee".
For now the regular haunt at lunch time has become the European in Spring Street that not only serves good coffee and reasonable meals, but it also has the allure of wine as well.