Snapshot: Canberra cafés

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

So as promised, here is the post on my favourite cafés in Canberra. I feel a bit like a broken record whenever I report it's slim pickings here but in the past couple of years a few saving graces have come up. Three to be precise!

Lonsdale Steet Roasters

7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon

Good ol' Lonsdale St Roasters. This is my old trusty in Canberra and I have eaten/coffee-d here on numerous occasions. A little slice of Melbourne has reached Lonsdale St, the quirky interior decor with bikes hanging off the walls, magnetic letter menu and mismatched canvas cushions make it a good place to while away the hours. I love to flick through the Canberra times (flicking is all that is required) at the big table by the window, coffee in hand. Not much can beat that!

Not enough: LSR needs two coffee machines to keep Canberrans content and caffeine fuelled. Me included.

LSR has turned into a hipster hang out, with Canberra's highest concentration of mustaches and tattoo sleeves under one roof. It's disorientating, everybody looks the same! A word of warning, going early in the morning when you are likely to run into hoards of hardcore cyclists or hitting the lunch hour peak (pram gridlock) you are at peril of not getting a table. Heaven forbid you have to WAIT.

Panini: the holy grail of LSR. All my ramblings about the suckling pig roll @ Wilbur's Place got me thinking I should at least show you what the competition was. Presenting...

At your discretion: Cuban slow roasted pork chipotle and coriander panini ($12). Oh yes, I order this panini every time I can. Yes, once you slather on the chipotle and add the jalapenos you feel like your head might explode but i love it anyway. Bring an antacid.

Notes on coffee: it's nice to find a venue that sources and roasts their own beans. LSR pride themselves on offering a different single origin coffee or blend everyday, just to mix it up. It is this precise practice that makes the coffee a bit hit and miss. Some coffees are just better than others here. At times you are hit with such a bitter taste in the mouth that I need to add sugar to my cap. A cardinal sin, if ever there was one. Having tried their beans at home, I reckon the coffee blends actually have better depth. I know there's all this hype about Single Origin beans coming from the same farm etc but that's just my personal preference.

Writing's on the wall - there's something not quite right about the grammar here, do you actually 'commit' nuisance? Anywho...


40 Marcus Clarke St, Canberra

What a relief, uni students rejoice! What constitutes a quick coffee between classes need not be a s*** one. Harvest is a dinky place that does good coffee. The Canberran suits are testament to this, lining up from 7am onwards to get their fix (triple shot skinny flat white?) to get them through the a.m. Food is the usual pastry cabinet affair so don't expect a proper lunch from here (i.e. go to LSR).

For show: the counter at Harvest. I haven't actually seen the siphons been used before. All this talk about siphon coffee being milder/weaker put me off for good! Photo credit: Harvest Coffee

Decor is simple and distinctly Melbournian (again), I think they've been doing rather well and are now trading on Saturdays - good on them! They have recently extended their outdoor seating arrangements so you can enjoy the sunshine and sit on Chewbacca and other assorted wildlife, lovingly painted onto their stools.

Awesome: Chewie stool at Harvest, artwork by Tom Farrell. Photo credit: Harvest Coffee 

Silo Bakery

36 Giles St, Kingston

Not many eateries in Canberra can boast a cheese room but Silo is one exception. This little gem in Kingston faces even worse congestion problems than LSR, particularly on weekends. Go early in the morning or late in the afternoon, buy take away if you can! Desperate times.

Bragging rights: the climate controlled cheese display. Photo credit: Coffee and Chairs

There are a couple of things worth trying out here including the Chicken Caesar Roll - that's if you can even get your paws on one. Everything sells like hot cakes at this place, but they also have an à la carte menu if you can spare the minutes. The sourdough loaves are also not to be sniffed at, but best eaten fresh - obviously. All this queuing, everywhere in Canberra says something doesn't it? Canberrans are crying out for a half decent latte and chocolate croissant. Any budding cafe owners/barista types should hop on that bandwagon and set up shop - no kidding. 

Silo's Lychee and Peach tart. A nice little sweet, easily shared by 2. Thin pastry and smooth vanilla custard make it quite a treat.

So there we are! The Canberra café wrap-up - hope you can put it to good use on your travels.

Thanks for reading!
Love, Gourmand.
Lonsdale Street Roasters 23 on Urbanspoon


  1. I started reading & was enjoying it so much, I quickly poured another coffee & settled down to enjoy

  2. What a great guide - you've definitely got your fair share of great cafés in Canberra. I'll squirrel this article away and come back to it when I make my dream trip to Oz! :)

  3. Sadly, quirky cafes are few and far between in Canberra, and are usually only in the most accessible places, such as the city or inner suburbs. For example, Gungahlin has an enormous population, but the only cafes to be found are of the pedestrian franchise variety, and featuring TVs affixed to the wall competing with commercial radio blaring out 80s golden oldies. Depressing much.

    LSR is great, but seriously: it closes at 2.15pm during the week. Well it did the day I turned up there for my coffee, expecting it to be open. I was really peeved, especially as I'd just put $2 in the parking meter. I'd be happy to be proved wrong if the opening hours have changed, but given that was in summer, I doubt it.



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