It was with some hesitation that last week I put the word out there for Canberra’s best coffee. To many people coffee is absolutely sacred and you wouldn’t dare mess with them before they’ve had their morning fix. I can relate to that – I buy at least one coffee every day and am that person that will walk the extra kilometre or two past five or six other cafes to get one that I’ll enjoy. The name ‘coffee snob’ has been thrown at me more than once, but I don’t apologise for preferring quality in my daily caffeine hit.
With so much good coffee happening in this city at the moment, it didn’t come as a surprise that almost everyone had an opinion on where to find Canberra’s best coffee. It’s a topic that got a lot of people fired up and even those who don’t drink coffee weren’t afraid to weigh in. With so much interest, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous about judging this one.
The votes came in thick and fast for cafes all around Canberra, with 56 different places receiving votes. Some that didn’t quite make the top two but weren’t far behind include Espresso Room in Woden, Tuggeranong and Belconnen; Lava in Weston and Phillip; Red Brick Espresso in Curtin; ONA Coffee in Fyshwick and Common Grounds in Gowrie.
Coming out on top were The Cupping Room and Two Before Ten, so on Friday I set out for a day of coffee tasting and decided to try both a milk coffee and a filter at each.
First up was The Cupping Room on University Avenue in the City. With owner Sasa Sestic recently awarded 2015 World Barista Champion, it was fitting that The Cupping Room, a project by ONA Coffee, be one of this week’s finalists. The Cupping Room serves its filter coffee as batch brew and on Friday had the Colombia la Cordillera available – it was light and refreshing with a strong citrus flavour. For the milk coffee, I tried the house blend, which was deliciously smooth, creamy and strong on the coffee taste, just how I like it.
Later on Friday, I made my way out to Two Before Ten, now located at the Aranda shops on Bandjalong Street (they used to be on Hobart Place in the City before the Canberra Club building began its redevelopment). Two Before Ten offers a range of options for its filter coffee, but didn’t have any batch brew available on Friday. Instead, I opted for a pour-over and was met with a deep, rich filter coffee with a little hint of sweetness – it was delicious. For the milk coffee, I tried the ‘Pound Cake’ blend, which was not as strong as I would like, but had a delicious creamy chocolate flavour behind it.
It might be that I was nervous about judging coffee, or maybe it was the buzz from the more than average amount of caffeine flowing through my veins on Friday, but deciding between The Cupping Room and Two Before Ten wasn’t easy. They both serve a mean cup of coffee and I would recommend them to anyone – they have killer food menus too!
In the end, it was a pretty clear split between milk and filter for me. When it comes to milk coffee, The Cupping Room has it, but if you’re in the mood for a little filter, then Two Before Ten is where it’s at. Some might call that a tie, but I’m just calling it how it is.