A bright new light in North Melbourne’s café community

A bright new light in North Melbourne’s café community
Jack Hayes

The more you dig into the North and West Melbourne café scene, the sooner you come to a realisation …

This isn’t a collection of businesses vying for the same clientele, this is a homogenous community of like-minded small businesses working together, not just to serve bloody good food and coffee, but to champion the ethos of putting “people over profit”.

The latest member to join this growing cohort is Lumen, a bright new all-day café calling 522 Victoria St its home.

The two industry stalwarts behind it are North Melbourne locals Emma Sheahan and Marichi Clarke.

Having worked in just about every corner of Melbourne’s hospitality scene at places like Seven Seeds, Wide Open Road, St Ali and even local roastery, Small Batch, there was a sense of inevitability in opening a café of their own.



However, it wasn’t until both Sheahan and Clarke began to live in and fall in love with North Melbourne that they decided to open their own café in what is an already well serviced and competitive coffee neighbourhood.

“There is definitely room for all of us,” Sheahan told North West City News. “All of the big coffee players in North Melbourne are all good friends; we all grew up together and worked in venues together.”


The sense of community and love of coffee in this neighbourhood is truly something. As a resident you see one side of it, but as someone that works in the community, you see the whole other side of the coin where I feel like the people of North and West Melbourne are just so proud to live here.


“I had a taste of that, but upon opening Lumen, I’ve seen it ten-fold. People love to make it known that they live here and they’re really excited to have us in the area.”

Lumen’s footprint may be small, but the soft interiors and spacious fit-out offer up a comfortable sense of familiarity; this truly is a local’s local.

Just as with everything they do, the omnipresent sense of subtlety extends to a menu that will satisfy that grumbling stomach but not leave you “needing a nap after it”.

There are Ortiz sardines on rye bread baked around the corner, or the smoked caciotta, cheddar and quince hot pressed sando, and on weekends the crowd favourite is the tamago and cheddar milk bun.



“Opening here and designing our menu, we felt like there was still room for something a little more casual, something that had some sophistication and was intentional about what it did, but wasn’t too serious,” Sheahan said.

“You don’t have to sit down for a three-course meal or have to have a set menu; you can just come for a glass of wine or a snack and you’re welcome in whatever you want. Ten minutes or two hours, you know, we’re here for you.”

“As far as coffee goes, we just want clean, sweet, crunchable coffees. Scoring 86 and above out of 100, really easy to drink, really enjoyable to drink and to just want to build trust with the community that we can deliver that day in, day out.”

In the coming months Lumen will be open during the evenings with a simple menu revolving around “a few things done well”. •

For more information: Instagram @lumenpeople

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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