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The Best Coffee In Canberra


There are few things in life more satisfying than that very first sip of coffee. Whether you prefer the bold intensity of a long black, the decadent creaminess of a double-shot latte, or the familiar taste of a tried-and-true flat white, the feeling is the same: you cannot live without coffee.

If you are a self-confessed coffee lover, chances are, you are always looking to expand your knowledge of local cafes. For that, you’ve landed in the right place. We asked Canberra’s locals to share their go-to coffee spots. From there, we have come up with a list of the top three in the region.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

What makes an excellent coffee shop?

What should you look for when researching coffee shops in Canberra and surrounds?

  • Unreal coffee. This one’s obvious, but if a cafe serves up burnt, bitter, weak, or cold coffee, it’s not worth your time. Coffee is the most critical element of any café-style eatery.
  • Wide range of coffee styles. Some of us like black coffee. Some of us like white. And some of us enjoy the sweet complexity of flavoured syrup. No judgement here. The best coffee shops serve up a wide range of coffee styles: cold brew, batch brew, alternative milks, piccolo lattes, the list goes on.
  • Fantastic food. Whether it be a full brunch menu or fresh-baked cabinet goods, the best coffee shops serve up a variety of tasty treats that perfectly complement their top-notch coffee.

The top coffee shops in Canberra according to you

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 19 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.

Now, it’s time to introduce the locals’ top coffee shops in Canberra.

Sweet Bones

Sweet Bones may be known for its unbelievable vegan cakes and baked goods, but one sip of their expertly made coffee, and you’ll understand why the locals come back time and time again. The team at Sweet Bones doesn’t believe in bells and whistles – they want quality. With a rustic atmosphere and rock’n’roll edge, this gem of a café will fast become one of your favourites.

Barrio Collective Coffee

The dedicated team behind Barrio Collective Coffee believes in simplicity, good food, and excellent coffee. They use the highest quality beans available to produce some of the most delicious brews in the region. As locals themselves, the Barrio Collective Coffee staff offer a welcoming atmosphere and neighbourhood vibe. Perfect.


At Harvest, they focus on one thing and one thing only: coffee. That’s right – they love coffee as much as you do. Their passionate team goes above and beyond to deliver delicious, full-flavoured, high-quality coffee, whether you drink a short black, cold brew, or extra-large cappuccino.

Who did you pick?

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

Where do you think serves up the best coffee in Canberra and surrounding regions? Share your opinion in the comments area below for our readers to check out.


What's Your Opinion?

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45 Responses to The Best Coffee In Canberra
Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 1:14 pm 02 Jun 08

el said :

Where’s the Chocolate Olive, Peterh? I need some beans.

The Chocolate Olive is in Colbee Court West (not the side with Pepe’s Art Store, the Medical Centre and House of Heroes, the other one).

Reasonable coffee, south-facing frontage, cranky owner, only hangs her own art on the walls, and refuses to let other people hang theirs. Rarely sells anything.

Next to the New Works Gallery owned by a Ms Victoria Phillips, she lets other people hang work on the walls, so long as it passes quality inspection. Sells enough art to keep the place running.

So drop in, buy a coffee, badmouth her art, and then tell her you’re going next door.

peterh peterh 12:41 pm 02 Jun 08

el said :

Where’s the Chocolate Olive, Peterh? I need some beans.

The chocolate olive is in colbee court, on the other side near the fitness shop.
they have bags of beans, but I haven’t bought from there.

el el 12:14 pm 02 Jun 08

Where’s the Chocolate Olive, Peterh? I need some beans.

peterh peterh 10:38 am 02 Jun 08

To those of you who are going to H+G’s in phillip – try the Chocolate Olive instead – great coffee, friendly staff and a very comfortable venue. They use the sacred grounds coffee – far superior to H+G’s offering. Jindebah Hills (not the name but cannot remember the real name) in mitchell is the best around for coffee – I go there at least once a month to entertain clients, and use Remi’s in town as well.

Oh, and as I work in phillip, the chocolate olive don’t roast at their premises, so I don’t get the big white cloud of foul smoke descending on me.

If you must have your coffee at H+G’s, try a bit of salt in your coffee. cancels out the alkaline levels and it tastes pretty good after that.

Demosthenes Demosthenes 10:14 am 02 Jun 08

I’ve started a website for this discussion – feel free to add reviews and provide feedback and suggestions

needlenose needlenose 2:08 pm 11 May 08

There are three reasons why I would never buy coffee or anything else at Gloria Jeans.

1. It is, without exception, the vilest tasting swill it has ever been my misfortune to sample. When they first opened at Belconnen I ordered a macchiato and found it burnt and bitter and frankly not fit for sale. I was so sure it was a mistake that I tried another a few weeks later and found it identical. Woden is slightly better, but still really unacceptable.

2. I had already sworn off this franchise when I found out about their partnership with, and promotion and funding of the so-called “Mercy Ministries”, a truly evil fundamentalist “Christian” organisation (the inverted commas are to indicate that I would not judge most people who identify as Christians with these values). Now I won’t even shop in stores that have a Gloria Jeans in them (sorry Borders – though not that sorry – I’d rather shop in bookstores with staff that read, anyway).

See, for example, the following:,2369,They-prayed-to-cast-Satan-from-my-body,SMH,page2#146216

… there are a bunch of links on Google, including to a MM “Survivors” site. There was also an investigative piece in Crikey a few months ago but it’s subscribers only.

3. Their store upstairs in Woden has written on the wall “I measure my life in coffee spoons”. The gross ignorance of (a) the misquote and (b) the complete lack of understanding of the reference just makes me want to spit every time I walk past that place. They’ve referenced one of the saddest, most pathetic lines in literature, about the sheer waste and drudgery of a life defined by such a measure, and seem to be trying to suggest it somehow indicates how fabulous it is to be drinking coffee, when in fact it should drive every damn customer out of the joint in tears.

Wish it would.

For good coffee, I recommend Bookplates (if you can get in ), Remi on Moore Street, or Caffe Essen. There’s also a really great new place on the corner of Alinga and Mort St (just past the interchange) but I’ve forgotten its name – Tonic?

domsoph domsoph 11:22 am 11 May 08

Well i don’t know about the best coffee in canberra but i sure as hell know about the worst! I ordered a caffe’ latte from Lisboa in woden (near the cinemas) i cannot even begin to describe the revoltingness of it….simply pukesville! I took one sip and left….simply gross. And the problem is that this was not just a one off, bad coffee type thing, i went back a few weeks later and it was the same! They seriously need to sort out their baristas, cos they use Lavazza (i believe) which is a decent coffee….so please Lisboa get some staff that can actually MAKE coffee without poisoning your customers!

ant ant 10:24 pm 22 Sep 07

Starbucks in the US is great, because at least you can taste the coffee. Unlike everywhere else. But it’s still awful. however, they have this gorgeous crumb cake, just a dense slice cake, with crumble on top (coconut, butter, brown sugar). Bloody delicious. And I like the “local meeting place” thing they do there. Fake, but effective, people DO go there to computerise, and chat with their mates.
This winter, the canyon road was closed early one morning for avalanches. I was in the staff van, so we rang work, reported that we were sitting in the queue at the canyon mouth (we get paid from that moment on). Then I suggested to the driver that we could wait in the queue… down in Sandy at starbucks! So off we went. Spent the 2 hours at Starbucks, where they looked after us, driver had a late brekkie at Maccas, then sat in the van watching DVDs. Got the call that the canyon was opening, and we scuttled back, and got back in the queue as it began to move. VERY civilised. Other vans of staff who’d sat there for hours were very disgusted with us.
I must say, that Starbucks was really nice. We all bought coffees and things and sat around chatting, and they came out with little bikkies and petit fours on plates and handed them round to us. Damn decent.

el ......VNBerlinaV8 el ......VNBerlinaV8 7:08 pm 22 Sep 07

poor treatment of staff….

I-filed I-filed 5:52 pm 22 Sep 07

Thanks Hecaterin. I go one further – the few other times I’ve had coffee in Watson, Carlo’s was crap. Bad service, much attitude, high prices, poor breakfast.

Hecaterin Hecaterin 9:44 am 21 Sep 07

The Watson shops coffee place is “Satis”. It’s tiny, and you’ll find it on the other side on the supermarket from Carlo’s. (Carlo’s is merely average, despite its marketing efforts.)

hingo_VRCalaisV6 hingo_VRCalaisV6 9:12 am 21 Sep 07

Yeah McCafe is pretty good. The drive-thru coffee is just the generic crap made by a machine.

jemmy jemmy 8:07 pm 20 Sep 07

I agree about the McCafe too. Except I found out the other day the drive-through is not the same machine as in the cafe. The guy in the window said to use the cafe if you want ‘real’ coffee.

el ......VNBerlinaV8 el ......VNBerlinaV8 7:11 pm 20 Sep 07

The place on the corner of the Civic interchange and Bunda Street – maybe called KARI or something like that? Consistently the best coffee I’ve ever had in Canberra, I would’ve had 50 or so from there over the past month or so, always excellent.

I-filed I-filed 6:32 pm 20 Sep 07

Can only comment on the inner north … Little place at Watson Shops – Safi? – great coffee.
Tilleys – queue at counter for up to 25 minutes but coffee is good and booths are a haven if have laptop
Loui – great coffee

excession excession 5:47 pm 20 Sep 07

Guru (Canberra Centre) is pretty good — if you like stuff like White Mocha, get a large one of those, and you’re right for a while, they’re HUGE, and very nice.

Not really ‘coffee’ tho.

I had a hot chocolate from koko, and it was ok, but very expensive ($6.50?).

Babar’s ‘gourmet’ in Woden (near the thai restaurant on Corinna street) makes an ok cappucino, sometimes. Othertimes, well, yeesh. But if you don’t like it, they will make you another one if you complain.

Michels, Woden, used to be ok, but Babar’s is much better.

asp asp 5:12 pm 20 Sep 07

“you missed McCafe which I think is one of the better chain coffee vendors.”

Shocking as it may be, I have to agree about McCafe. Not bad at all. Very nice lattes and quite big for a small price. Good value. The food is okay and was a life saver in some of the backwaters of rural Victoria where it was the only place in town for a feed other than steak and beer ( which is fine for one night, but a week?)

Kramer Kramer 4:54 pm 20 Sep 07

Love your work asp! I’m guessing you must work long hours? possibly shift work?

BTW – you missed McCafe which I think is one of the better chain coffee vendors.

asp asp 11:15 am 20 Sep 07

Fo the record, I tested coffee guru. They are not gurus, but phoneys.

I found the staff on the counter and coffee machine to be slow and unpersonable. I ordered a latte, which was strong, bitter and unpleasant. Not letting on how bad it was, I acted dumb and quizzed the staff when i was quite about some of the other beverages on offer. They could not say what a vienna or machiatto was, despite the two being on their basic drink menu.
I did this at both their Erindale and Civic stores, so maybe the other stores are better.

Pandy Pandy 8:37 am 20 Sep 07

Guru coffee anyone?

On their web page they said they set-up their chain becasue they were disappointed with the quality of coffee around elsewhere.

Surely the quality of the coffee depends upon:
Barista quality
Bean quality and freshness
Machine quality

So what makes Guru Coffee any different?

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