The Best Coffee Shops in Canberra

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Two Before Ten is one of Canberra’s most recommended coffee shops. Photo: Michelle Taylor.

Coffee fans live for a great cuppa. You might need to get caffeinated before a hard day’s work. You might want to enjoy a coffee while catching up with friends, take a break from your hectic schedule or even catch up with clients.

Whatever the reason, you’ll want a quality coffee shop. That’s a shop with quality beans and a quality barista who makes that perfect cup, no matter what your style.

In this article, we’ll outline the qualities to consider when choosing a coffee shop, and share where to find the best in Canberra.

What makes a great coffee shop?

Choosing the right coffee shop guarantees a great experience—with every sip. These coffee shops also make every style of coffee, including cappuccino, flat white and short black. Many also make cold brew and batch brew.

It can be helpful to keep the following in mind when choosing a coffee shop.

  • Excellent coffee. The best coffee shops take coffee seriously and only use quality beans, properly roasted. They’ll offer bold, full-flavored and smooth blends. They’ll also have special blends.
  • Quality barista. You’ll want a coffee shop with an amazing barista. The best beans in the world don’t make a great cup of coffee. It’s a combo of coffee bean quality and barista expertise.
  • Consistency. There’s nothing worse than having a great coffee one day and a lousy one the next—at the same coffee shop. You’ll want reliability and consistency so you can enjoy every coffee you buy.
  • Quality of service. Great coffee shops have great service. They know you don’t want to wait forever for your coffee. They also know that you want friendly and welcoming staff.
  • Food. Excellent coffee shops not only serve amazing coffee, they dish up yummy food. Some just offer small items like pastries. Others offer a full menu.

The best coffee shops in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Ona Coffee House Café

Great coffee is Ona’s passion. Ona is a specialty coffee company with its own roastery. It has an entire signature range of house blends. It also has an ever-changing range of single origin coffees roasted for espresso or filter. In addition to quality coffee, Ona offers an extensive breakfast and lunch menu.

Steve Schaefer wrote on Google, “The coffee alone is the reason to stop here … but the breakfast was phenomenal.”

Two Before Ten

Two Before Ten now has four cafes across Canberra—Aranda, Hobart Place, Greenway and Brindabella Business Park. It also operates its own roastery, to maintain quality control. Two Before Ten creates its own blends, each with a unique flavour profile. Customers enjoy each cup with fabulous food, rounding out their coffee experience.

Natalia Abbasi wrote on Google, “We started with coffee but liked it so much we stayed for lunch … Will definitely come back.”

Red Brick Coffee

Delicious coffee, simple. That’s the Red Brick Coffee commitment to customers in its four Canberra locations. Red Brick roasts its own coffee. Blends include classic, sweet, rich, and complex. Delicious breakfast and lunch menus are available. Red Brick is dedicated to leaving as little a mark on the planet as possible.

On Google, Kathryn Stefancik wrote, “Super amazing coffee, and the staff are lovely and cheerful. They ground some coffee beans for me and made a lovely mocha.”

The Cupping Room

The Cupping Room is a concept café that takes customers on a flavour journey. Designed by the team from award-winning Ona Coffee, The Cupping Room is dedicated to producing the finest quality coffee possible—perfection in every cup. The food is as amazing as the coffee. Indeed, the Cupping Room has even published its own cookbook.

Zoe Askew wrote on Google, “One of the best cafes I’ve been to globally. Amazing coffee, amazing food, amazing staff.”

Mocan and Green Grout

Mocan and Green Grout is a cosy, quirky, eclectic venue with an open kitchen and homely interior. The coffee shop’s dedicated team offers a simple menu of handcrafted food, at breakfast, lunch and or dinner. The coffee at Mocan and Green Grout is fair trade, locally roasted, and expertly prepared.

On Google, Ellen Harvey wrote, “Great coffee, great food, lovely people. Mocan and Green Grout is now my go-to-café.”

If you’re looking for more information on coffee experiences in Canberra, you might like our article on the best bakeries Canberra has to offer.

Your experience with the best coffee shops in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Which is your go-to coffee shop in Canberra? Why? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a great coffee?
A great coffee involves many elements. First, the quality of the beans. Second, the way they’re roasted. Third, the quality of the coffee machine. Fourth, the expertise of the barista making the coffee.
What makes a great coffee shop?
First, and foremost, the coffee. That’s the quality of the beans and an expert barista. And because so many customers want more than just a coffee, the food is important. The atmosphere also plays a role. So does the quality of staff and the service. Location can also be key. You’ll want a coffee shop that’s conveniently located.
Do all coffee shops roast their own coffee?
Not all coffee shops roast their own coffee. More and more quality coffee shops do. If they don’t, they make sure they buy coffee from a company that roasts quality beans locally. This way they can be confident of the quality.
Do all coffee shops run cafes as well?
Not all coffee shops run full cafes, but most offer some food. Some might have a small menu of baked goods and light lunches. Others provide more substantial menus. Some are open during the day only and some also at night.
Why does it take so long to get my coffee?
Making a quality coffee takes a bit of time. Great coffee shops don’t like to rush the process. Quality coffee shops have long lists of loyal customers and are super busy at peak times. This can add to your wait time, but a quality coffee is so worth it.

What's Your Opinion?


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TorrensTom TorrensTom 7:03 pm 30 May 15

I tried ONA in Manuka yesterday after reading many favourable comments about it here – VERY disappointing. I ordered a small Cappuccino; it was $3.50, which is a fair price, but came in the SMALLEST CUP I’ve ever seen! The coffee wasn’t even particularly good – overly milky and not much flavour. I expected better and won’t be going back 🙁

Ezy Ezy 10:04 am 30 May 15

Rollersk8r said :

Masquara said :

LSR make OK coffee but their “attitude” approach is weird. In the good cafes in San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Melbourne, Brisbane – all the baristas are chill and friendly. LSR’s behind-the-counter hauteur is mystifying. Wrecks their coffee – along with the too-loud music at breakfast time.

Indeed.

We go through 1kg of beans a month at home @ $40-something a time. Have been a loyal customer of LSR for over a year. But last time I waited 15 minutes in line *just to buy beans* and got a shrug at the counter: “Yeah, well, we’re out of pretty much everything. Can’t sell you more than 250g”.

Fine then. Business permanently taken elsewhere.

You are in luck – soon to open Barrio in the Ori building in Braddon also sells coffee online and offers free delivery as well. I have some beans on the way for home filter http://www.barriocc.com

Hit up Sam and have a chat about a subscription service. Can I also suggest you break down your 1kg into 500g? Fresh is always best 🙂

rosscoact rosscoact 6:56 pm 29 May 15

Rollersk8r said :

Masquara said :

LSR make OK coffee but their “attitude” approach is weird. In the good cafes in San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Melbourne, Brisbane – all the baristas are chill and friendly. LSR’s behind-the-counter hauteur is mystifying. Wrecks their coffee – along with the too-loud music at breakfast time.

Indeed.

We go through 1kg of beans a month at home @ $40-something a time. Have been a loyal customer of LSR for over a year. But last time I waited 15 minutes in line *just to buy beans* and got a shrug at the counter: “Yeah, well, we’re out of pretty much everything. Can’t sell you more than 250g”.

Fine then. Business permanently taken elsewhere.

Yep. That’s a similar story except we go through a kilo a week. It was a no thanks, we don’t want your business.

Rollersk8r Rollersk8r 4:39 pm 29 May 15

Masquara said :

LSR make OK coffee but their “attitude” approach is weird. In the good cafes in San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Melbourne, Brisbane – all the baristas are chill and friendly. LSR’s behind-the-counter hauteur is mystifying. Wrecks their coffee – along with the too-loud music at breakfast time.

Indeed.

We go through 1kg of beans a month at home @ $40-something a time. Have been a loyal customer of LSR for over a year. But last time I waited 15 minutes in line *just to buy beans* and got a shrug at the counter: “Yeah, well, we’re out of pretty much everything. Can’t sell you more than 250g”.

Fine then. Business permanently taken elsewhere.

dungfungus dungfungus 12:29 pm 29 May 15

Pencil said :

Two Hands in Fyshwick make a good strong flat white. I like the vibe in there as well

……and the lack of MAMILs.

Masquara Masquara 7:32 pm 28 May 15

LSR make OK coffee but their “attitude” approach is weird. In the good cafes in San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Melbourne, Brisbane – all the baristas are chill and friendly. LSR’s behind-the-counter hauteur is mystifying. Wrecks their coffee – along with the too-loud music at breakfast time.

Pencil Pencil 4:49 pm 28 May 15

Two Hands in Fyshwick make a good strong flat white. I like the vibe in there as well

bryansworld bryansworld 3:58 pm 22 May 15

rubaiyat said :

bryansworld said :

Same here. I will walk past them and into one that serves coffee in reusable cups.

Cool, I don’t feel so alone with my attitude now!

Whatever happened to the customer is always right?

I loath those plastic throw away cups with the baby spout, and always insist on a regular porcelain cup, but not infrequently they ignore your request.

Particularly the coffee chains. They know what we “need”.

We “need” to trash our planet or we will be unable to maintain our lifestyle!

They “need” to trash the planet by exploiting externalities to keep making profit, because its free money for them. It’s only dangerous to say in Australia because we seem to have lost touch with reality, but we need a price on carbon.

rubaiyat rubaiyat 1:50 pm 22 May 15

bryansworld said :

Same here. I will walk past them and into one that serves coffee in reusable cups.

Cool, I don’t feel so alone with my attitude now!

Whatever happened to the customer is always right?

I loath those plastic throw away cups with the baby spout, and always insist on a regular porcelain cup, but not infrequently they ignore your request.

Particularly the coffee chains. They know what we “need”.

We “need” to trash our planet or we will be unable to maintain our lifestyle!

bryansworld bryansworld 10:55 am 22 May 15

Maya123 said :

bryansworld said :

Ezy said :

bryansworld said :

On a related issue, there are a lot of take away coffees drunk on this planet. I understand that the vast majority of takeaway paper cups have a plastic lining, which means they cannot be recycled at our current recycling facilities in Australia. Where in Canberra uses cups that are recyclable here?

Get yourself one of these: http://www.keepcup.com.au

Got one, and use it when I can. Spread the word! But, still amazed at the number of non-recyclable cups that we as a collective must churn through. Particularly saddened by the cafes that have decided that completely disposable is the way to go. I try to avoid these ones. Must be financially better for a business to not have to wash up?

“Particularly saddened by the cafes that have decided that completely disposable is the way to go. I try to avoid these ones.”

Same here. I will walk past them and into one that serves coffee in reusable cups.

Cool, I don’t feel so alone with my attitude now!

CJ CJ 7:15 am 22 May 15

My only complaint with Lonsdale Street Roasters over many visits in past years was that the coffee was almost always lukewarm by the time it arrived at our table. Taste-wise it was fine, with good body and balance, and the selection of beans to take home was excellent. I second a previous poster re the Johnny Cash blend.

MattLowe MattLowe 11:53 pm 21 May 15

2 B4 10

Maya123 Maya123 10:04 pm 21 May 15

bryansworld said :

Ezy said :

bryansworld said :

On a related issue, there are a lot of take away coffees drunk on this planet. I understand that the vast majority of takeaway paper cups have a plastic lining, which means they cannot be recycled at our current recycling facilities in Australia. Where in Canberra uses cups that are recyclable here?

Get yourself one of these: http://www.keepcup.com.au

Got one, and use it when I can. Spread the word! But, still amazed at the number of non-recyclable cups that we as a collective must churn through. Particularly saddened by the cafes that have decided that completely disposable is the way to go. I try to avoid these ones. Must be financially better for a business to not have to wash up?

“Particularly saddened by the cafes that have decided that completely disposable is the way to go. I try to avoid these ones.”

Same here. I will walk past them and into one that serves coffee in reusable cups.

MotherHen MotherHen 7:00 pm 21 May 15

Niugini Arabica at Duffy does a nice latte and is a lovely spot to sit on a sunny day. They roast their own beans (from the PNG highlands) and also sell coffee beans so you can also enjoy at home.

SparksAndSawdust SparksAndSawdust 6:15 pm 21 May 15

Sly Fox Coffee on the bike path near MacArthur Avenue – the only coffee I don’t have to add sugar 🙂

Vindalu Vindalu 4:46 pm 21 May 15

Hi Guys – loved reading everyone’s take on good coffee. I travel around the ACT all day long and usually do 3 coffees a day; yes, and I hate to admit it – they’re double shots. Coffee Guru does it for me, consistently good with slight variations in excellence among the various outlets. I’d give first prize to their Weston franchise. Coffee is more than a matter of personal taste; to get the max flavour with depth and minimal bitterness takes skill and attention to detail. I could wax lyrical about coffee for pages having had several coffee shops and been a trainer in the hosp industry throughout the coffee boom but I’ll end on this note. There are better coffees than coffee guru but they are few, for a consistent happy hit I love em!

Ezy Ezy 3:48 pm 21 May 15

garglebutt said :

I struggle to find a decent cup around Woden town centre. Urban Bean (Ona beans) is okay but goes well down hill during mid morning peak. Gizmo’s (Cosmorex) at IP Australia is okay most of the time. Nothing like the Cupping Room or 10 to 2 though ????.

Espresso Room in Westfield are not a bad option around that area. They should be close to the same standard as Cupping Room because they are under the Ona/Project Origin umbrella. Other options within a 15 minute walk are Lava in Phillip or Stand By Me in Lyons.

garglebutt garglebutt 3:28 pm 21 May 15

I struggle to find a decent cup around Woden town centre. Urban Bean (Ona beans) is okay but goes well down hill during mid morning peak. Gizmo’s (Cosmorex) at IP Australia is okay most of the time. Nothing like the Cupping Room or 10 to 2 though ????.

garglebutt garglebutt 3:19 pm 21 May 15

Holden Caulfield said :

But I can observe and comment on coffee culture, which, it has to be said, like wine culture, or cycling culture, is often full of people who take the subject much too seriously.

I think the focus and attention that “a good coffee” receives is mildly amusing at best and a complete embarrassment at worst.

The fact that the coffee shops using stale old Vittoria beans and the like still have lots of customers shows that there is plenty of breadth in the market for all levels of taste.

Each to their own of course but many people are interested in finding a better product at an acceptable price which is what this discussion is about. I walk past half a dozen coffee shops every day to find a better product because I’d rather drink water than a mediocre cup of coffee.

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 12:41 pm 21 May 15

Ezy said :

Fair enough, I understand and respect your point of view. But to be embarrassed about having a passion and an interest no matter what the subject is? I totally disagree with that comment. If you can’t get excited about things in your life, then why bother getting up in the morning. You could be into building model planes for all I know, that could be your thing? I’m not going to look down on you for that. There are always different levels of ways people consume things. You can walk in with your blinders on and just see coffee as a ‘coffee’ and thats it.

Fair enough in return. And thanks for your honest reply.

It’s the depth to which coffee culture has entered the mainstream that is the interesting thing for me. People often look at me odd when I say I don’t really like coffee as if there is something wrong with me. Talk about having blinders on, haha.

You’re right, it’s good to have passions, especially if they are a bit left of centre. It helps the world go around.

However, in my experience, some coffee snobs (for want of a better term), not all, remind me of the gag:

Q: How do you know if someone is vegan?
A: Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

It’s good to have passions, we agree, it’s also good to know when to curb your enthusiasm.

Ezy said :

I am a little different when it comes to this subject – I see it as much more in coffee than just the drink itself. It is an experience, an opportunity to learn and interact. The things I have learnt and the conversations I have had whilst waiting in line for a coffee – my eyes and ears are always open, it is fully immersive. The people I have met and relationships I have built with some of the owners of local and interstate cafés are valuable, all of this before getting the coffee itself. The cafe has really become a social hub and bit like the modern day roman forum – important meetings take place, deals are made, relationships start and end. The first thing I do when I get to an unfamiliar town is head to the best local cafe and have a chat to the guys behind the machine, they are a great source of information on your surroundings.

That’s not a bad way to look beyond the drink itself. And I’m all for the social aspect of “meeting for a coffee”, it’s just rare that I’ll actually have one.

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