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Gimme five... decent coffees


Tegan Osborne

What better way to kick off our new series than with a strong cup of coffee.

Living with a caffeine dependency and a taste for the good stuff can be brutal in Canberra. For those who can't abide burnt milk and bitter shots, finding the perfect percolation can be a mission. And Canberra can easily become an ocean of ordinary coffee. When I arrived in the capital almost three years ago, I recall a brief period of desperation. It's not a time I care to dwell on. But with the kindness of friends, (look it up) and a little weekend research, I discovered there was some crack coffee in the nation's capital.

1. Knead Patisserie, Belconnen

The coffee here is top notch, which is not a small thing for an outfit that is primarily about boutique baking. But for me the beauty of Knead is in the weekend journey to the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets. During a short stint living in the far north, I was overjoyed to learn that I could do a 'bacon and eggs' supply run early on a Saturday and get a decent drop at the markets. Word to the wise: couple your coffee with a rustic rye.

2. Mocan & Green Grout, New Acton

Another relatively recent Canberra coffee haunt, Mocan & Green Grout began life as a straight esspreso bar. But having conquered Canberra's latte set they've now expanded the premises, offering eats that are equally as good as the coffee. The brew here is strong and supple. The coffee is organic and fair trade, and the staff are cute and know stuff about bikes. This place has quickly become one of the city's coolest coffee shops. Enough said.

3. Lonsdale Street Roasters, Braddon

The arrival of Lonsdale Street Roasters in Braddon last year lifted the game for baristas in Canberra. A joint venture brought to life by a team of cafe veterans, it's a success story that keeps rolling on. They now have two shop fronts on Lonsdale Street, which seems a tad excessive but also fills my heart with joy. As the name suggests, they roast their own beans and have an array of blends and single origins available for purchase. The staff are hip and the coffee is smooth and of constant quality. The queues speak for themselves, so arrive early on Saturday or expect to wait for a while.

4. A bite to eat, Chifley

This little cafe-come-bar is a hidden gem that attracts a very eclectic crowd. Mismatched crockery, a wild collection of chairs and the random knickknacks that adorn the walls lend it a quite a hip feel. But as one of Chifley's best coffee shops, it attracts everyone from mums with bubs, to young and trendies and even grandparents. The coffee is as delightful as the atmosphere – and there's a beer garden.

5. Brew Bar, Tuggeranong

Not unlike Braddon's Lonsdale Street Roasters, Brew Bar are hedging their bets and have two shop fronts in Tuggeranong - one on Athllon Drive to catch the office workers and one on Anketell Street presumably for the shoppers. The one on Athllon Drive is celebrated by Tuggeranong public servants as the best place to access stimulants to stave off a mid-afternoon slump. Both offer solid coffee from baristas who know what they're doing. It's a product far superior to much of what's on offer in the deep south.


  • I'm a little surprised about Brew Bar being in the top 5. We used to go to Anketell St every Saturday and loved the coffee but has gone downhill over the past few months. The last time we went there it was disgusting and we couldn't even finish our cup. I haven't tried the new one on Athllon Drive yet but have heard others good feedback on this one. Perhaps the good barristers from Anketell St went across to the other one?

    Date and time
    November 16, 2012, 1:03PM
    • Surely Two Before Ten deserves to be in the top five.

      Luckily for me I live within walking distance of three of Canberra's best coffee shops. Extra happy that Lonsdale Street are opening up 23 on the weekends :)

      Date and time
      November 16, 2012, 1:28PM
      • Agree! Two before Ten has great coffee. Other favourite is Farmers Daughter in Yarralumla (you may just have to wait a while for it).

        Date and time
        November 16, 2012, 2:35PM
    • I think its time, as a species, Humanity just admits coffee is coffee and stop expending energy trying to describe the aroma and deep rich taste of a pretty pedestrian drink.

      Also, first world probelms

      Date and time
      November 16, 2012, 1:47PM
      • I agree. I am heartily sick of young foodies talking about coffee as tho they invented it. First thing I think when I read a tale about someone struggling to find decent coffee, is that the person doesn't know how to take care of themselves. For those still struggling, rent Green Card for some simple advice. And no, I don't need 9 bar to extract every bitter molecule the bean and roaster ever managed to produce. Nor do I boil my tea. So I don't need the advice of coffee wankers thanks.

        Craig More
        Date and time
        November 16, 2012, 4:13PM
    • Hats off to Mocan & Green Grout, a business that proves hipsters will pay through the nose for bitter coffee so long as they're being seen in cool surroundings.

      Poor service & a terrible brew but oh such beautiful people.

      Stir the pot
      Date and time
      November 16, 2012, 2:09PM
      • As a recent ex-Melbournite I have been on the hunt since arrival for a really good Fitzroy-style caffeine hit - and have found it at Ona @ The Lawns at Manuka. Truly outstanding coffee, top notch breakfast menu and a hip vibe: 10/10! Agree tho that Mocan comes a close second.

        Date and time
        November 16, 2012, 2:16PM
        • The Blue Olive, Kenny makes the best Caramel, Caramel Latte anywhere.

          Date and time
          November 16, 2012, 2:21PM
          • A Bite to Eat, Chifley:

            "But as one of Mawson’s best coffee shops" -> "But as one of Chifley's best coffee shops"

            Date and time
            November 16, 2012, 2:28PM
            • Any top coffee ranking without mentioning of the coffee at the local roaster Cosmorex is incomplete

              Date and time
              November 16, 2012, 2:31PM

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