The house blend is roasted locally ... Mocan and Green Grout.
The house blend is roasted locally ... Mocan and Green Grout. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Catriona Jackson

The rise and rise of coffee has been a little slower in Canberra than in Melbourne and Sydney, but we are getting there.

All over town you'll find people talking about their favourite blend, debating extraction techniques and queuing in the frosty mornings for the day's first fix.

Across the board standards have improved, with drinkable brews available across the territory. But these standouts are raising the bar for all, and a basic cuppa is becoming a thing of real pleasure.

Good Brother cafe, Dickson.
Smooth Campos coffee at Good Brother cafe in Dickson. Photo: Melissa Adams

Lonsdale Street Roasters

Walk into the newer and larger Roasters on Saturday morning and you might catch them roasting the beans that go onto Canberra's best cup of coffee. Opened in 2010, it is a shrine to the bean, with shelves full of the fresh roasted stuff on display, and a wide range of choices to drink or take home. Every day a different blend or blends are being "poured" and queues form out the door early as the public servants grab a morning heart starter.

Iced coffee is the real deal, with glistening black stuff poured over a pint glass of ice, with a piece of orange peel, and a little beaker of ice cold milk to pour over. Syrup sweetener is an option (hazelnut is great), cream and ice cream are not.

Good local pastries round out the options, and at No. 7 great panini are hard to resist. Just make sure you finish your coffee before start on the huge toasted panini with Cuban pulled pork and two kinds of chilli. Perhaps a "Baby Elvis" - toasted banana and Nutella jaffle - is a better match.

23 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, 02 6247 9882 and 7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, 02 6156 0975

Mocan and Green Grout

There's so much to like about this tiny breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner eatery and you can start with the coffee. Mocan's own organic fair trade house blend is roasted in Canberra and has that freshness of taste that makes that obvious. Sometimes a little strong, or perhaps just not for the faint hearted, you sip the brew out in the sun or tucked into one of the seating nooks created by the wood-heavy interior. As you imbibe you can watch the seriously skilled chefs create beautifully balanced meals at the big bench that dominates this hyper-intimate space. It is like sitting in a really organised home kitchen, expect the coffee's better and the food's better and there's no washing up at the end.

1/19 Marcus Clarke Street, New Acton, 02 6162 2909

Good Brother

Dickson now has a decent coffee shop, thanks to Canberra restaurateur Jesper Hauberg and his little place, Good Brother, which is going from strength to strength. Tucked around the corner from the Woolley Street Chinese Restaurant strip, Good Brother has built up a loyal band of regulars, stimulating them with lovely deep, smooth Campos coffee. It is hard to stop at one, and hardly anyone does. They also make a point of serving quality decaf (the antichrist to coffee snobs) which is a kindness to those poor souls who have no alternative but to drink it. Stick around for a huge, fresh roll or sandwich, and a little sweet treat, all served with care and personality.

1/20 Challis St, Dickson ACT, 02 6162 0819

 

Autolyse

The aroma of Ritual "Reserve Blend" coffee from Launceston wafts out of the door of this newly-minted bakery, that is setting a new standard. They don't just serve great coffee all day, they bake all day, and they do it right in the middle of the place. Stop in at 3pm and there are fresh loaves, go in early and your ham, cheese and basil pastry is being rolled up and baked. Arrive early and huge trays of glossy pastries are coming out of the oven, screaming to be dunked into Autolyse latte.

Shop 5, 21 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, 02 6262 8819

 

Bookplate cafe

Bookplate gets a mention not because they have the best coffee in Canberra, or because they obsess about the bean, but because they are consistently good performers. They make all their food and drink with skill and care, despite being housed in a national institution. The nourishment we offer visitors and locals taking in the sights in the Parliamentary Triangle has moved up a notch from a national disgrace, but still leaves a lot to be desired. Bookplate has bucked the trend for more than a decade, providing good coffee – in a soup bowl for the seriously desperate – in a lovely building, now with outside tables and a lake view. Muffins, tarts and slices provide a good excuse to have a second cup of coffee, and are made fresh daily.

National Library of Australia, King Edward Parade, 02 6262 1111

What's your go-to spot for a coffee in Canberra? Jump on the comments and share your tip.