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, decafsucks.com (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.