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Does Canberra have too many coffee shops?

By Alexandra Craig 7 July 2015 39

stock-coffee-barista-cappucino

There’s no doubt Canberrans love their coffee. A new cafe pops up every five minutes, and research published by Roy Morgan earlier this year found that 68 per cent of us had visited a cafe for coffee in the last three months. This puts Canberra ahead of Sydney and Melbourne when it comes to the caffeine consuming competition.

I should probably mention now that I am not a coffee drinker. I don’t particularly like the taste and I don’t see any point in trying to enjoy it.

Over the years I’ve worked with plenty of people who “need” coffee. I asked one of them what would happen if she didn’t have her coffee fix each day. Her reply was that she would get a bad headache without it and I thought, yeah see I don’t want to get to the point where I rely on something like that.

A few other people I’ve spoken to have said that coffee doesn’t really give them more energy or wake them up, they just drink it out of habit. I know most people reading this will nod in agreement with my former colleagues, however, as a non-coffee drinker I find this obsession incredibly strange!

After reading a reddit thread about how many coffee shops are in Braddon, it got me thinking about if there would ever be a situation in parts of Canberra densely populated with cafes, where businesses will start closing down because there is literally too much coffee.

If you look at all the cafes in Braddon that people would go to mostly to get coffee you’re looking at eight different places at least (Lonsdale Street Roasters 1 and 2, Chasing Mr Morris, 80/20, Elk and Pea, Sweet Bones, Elemental, Farmer’s Daughter, and Barrio), and then another handful of places that do coffee but without it being the main motivation for people going there (Autloyse, Debacle, Paleo Cafe, Frugii).

That’s a fair amount of coffee options over just a couple of streets. With every new cafe that opens, competition will increase in the area. While I think competition is usually a good thing, could there be a chance of Braddon becoming too overpopulated with coffee shops and cafes resulting in a whole lot of businesses closing down eventually?

You could also bring the parking situation into the equation too. If more and more cafes are opening in the one place, and more people are inclined to come to Braddon but there’s nowhere to park they’ll eventually stop coming and I think local small businesses are going to pay the price here.

I was chatting with a business owner (note: not a cafe or restaurant owner) in Braddon recently and they expressed a view that there needs to be some kind of government regulation on how many cafes can be in the one area as they’re concerned it would force businesses to close down. For many business owners, their shop is their livelihood – they lose that and they’re in a lot of trouble.

I tend to agree with them, however I think it would be a tough issue to regulate. Personally I would love to see more actual stores opening up in Braddon as opposed to more cafes. I like that the stores in Braddon are mostly locally owned and aren’t the big national companies like a lot of the stores at Manuka are.

As for the cafes, I hope there will always be enough business to sustain all of them but I worry that within a couple of years we’ll see quite a few closing their doors.


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Does Canberra have too many coffee shops?
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Happy_Dude 11:18 am 15 Jul 15

rubaiyat said :

Happy_Dude said :

As a new arrival to Canberra and one who likes a coffee, I’m impressed with the coffee scene here. But in my fairly limited outings thus far, I’d say there’s too many coffee shops that don’t know the difference between a latte, cappucino, and a flat white. Here’s the drum: it ain’t the cup or a bit of chocolate powder. Not a problem confined to Canberra though.

I’m currently working in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and take my morning coffee on the local boat wharf, …because I can! 😀

The kid who normally does it isn’t even a coffee drinker and despite it is hit or miss whether I get Flat White or a Cappuccino, the coffee is good.

Which says a lot about how easy it is to get good coffee these days almost everywhere in Australia.

I think it’s easy to get a passable generic coffee almost everywhere. A good coffee is another matter. If the barista doesn’t know the difference between a flat white and a cappucino, the notion of good coffee becomes simply a matter of it being drinkable.

Good coffee should taste, among other factors, according to how it’s ordered. I find that at almost all places in Australia, there is nothing to differentiate between coffee styles, other than the cup size/shape or a bit of chocolate powder.

ozdownunder 11:46 pm 12 Jul 15

Its reasonably good number in Gungahlin though.

Antagonist 9:18 pm 12 Jul 15

I have noticed an overabundance of nail salons springing up. Just today I just noticed the offensive aroma from yet another new nail salon downstairs at the Hyperdome. One would think it a good idea to put a nail salon next to a (mens) hair dresser, but it is also immediately next to one of the many indoor cafe’s. With so many of both businesses springing up it was only a matter of time before two should open next to each other. I would hate to be drinking a coffee and having brekky at a table while smelling solvents from next door. The café owners will not be happy.

rubaiyat 6:28 pm 12 Jul 15

Happy_Dude said :

As a new arrival to Canberra and one who likes a coffee, I’m impressed with the coffee scene here. But in my fairly limited outings thus far, I’d say there’s too many coffee shops that don’t know the difference between a latte, cappucino, and a flat white. Here’s the drum: it ain’t the cup or a bit of chocolate powder. Not a problem confined to Canberra though.

I’m currently working in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and take my morning coffee on the local boat wharf, …because I can! 😀

The kid who normally does it isn’t even a coffee drinker and despite it is hit or miss whether I get Flat White or a Cappuccino, the coffee is good.

Which says a lot about how easy it is to get good coffee these days almost everywhere in Australia.

Happy_Dude 1:32 am 12 Jul 15

As a new arrival to Canberra and one who likes a coffee, I’m impressed with the coffee scene here. But in my fairly limited outings thus far, I’d say there’s too many coffee shops that don’t know the difference between a latte, cappucino, and a flat white. Here’s the drum: it ain’t the cup or a bit of chocolate powder. Not a problem confined to Canberra though.

braddonmonsta 4:59 pm 11 Jul 15

More cafes = people go out for coffee more often.
In my student days, I would go out for coffee/breakfast about 4 times a week, usually to different places. No fun in that if it’s always the same cafe.

With parking, who cares. Canberra wants to be a ‘big city’. Guess what, driving is not a big city entitlement. Get over it and catch the bus or take an Uber (when it finally arrives ugh)

dkNigs 8:22 am 11 Jul 15

Two Before Ten are packing up on Lonsdale St 🙁

mark_whittaker 5:08 pm 10 Jul 15

If those shops were not filled with cafes, they would be filled with some other kind of shop – still requiring parking.

Cafe saturation does not strangle an area, it makes a precinct.

As you have stated a familiarity with Viennese cafes, actually known locally as a ‘kaffe haus’, you may be aware that cafe culture is not necessarily coffee culture. All of the shops you have mentioned are also eateries, and many also serve drinks. In the case of the Elk and Pea it is more widely known for it’s caribbean fusion cuisine. The only high-volume coffee shops in town that do not serve substantial food are the Australian Coffee Group shops (Harvest, Hideout, Tonic etc. – and that probably won’t stay that way forever).

That would make it a dining, drinking, and coffee precinct, not an over-saturated coffee precinct. Having all your eating, drinking, and coffee spots in a few designated spots within a city is amazing for business. It increases walk-in traffic substantially, as customers can head to an area and pick when they arrive, and it promotes a competitive culture leading to better quality in product and service. It is also great for marketing and branding.

It also establishes a strong sense of community and connection to place for residents and workers in the surrounding areas.

dungfungus 8:43 am 10 Jul 15

arescarti42 said :

dungfungus said :

The now falling Australian dollar will inflate the cost of coffee to the point that people will start drinking instant stuff or go without.

No it won’t. You’d be lucky to find 50c worth of coffee beans in a $4 cup of coffee. The lion’s share of the price is staff wages and shop rent.

Using that model, mobile coffee vendors must be doing very well.
Anecdotally I know that isn’t the case.

Zan 7:11 pm 09 Jul 15

The noise oh the noise. The grinder, the banging of the filter to get the beans out, and then the milk heater on top of this the foreground music.

Oh I wish for a quite Viennese coffee house where the music (if any) is soft, the coffee machine out in the kitchen away from the customers. I wish.

Kalliste 7:27 pm 08 Jul 15

Mysteryman said :

Do you really think that Lonsdale St is a dangerous place? Putting up a sign and painting some lines on the road won’t stop accidents from happening, especially when there is no need for them in the first place.

The “fix what ain’t broke” mentality already costs the ACT more money than is sensible. I don’t think fabricating arguments to nurture that mentality is wise.

While I don’t think pedestrian crossings are a bad idea I do think about how Dickson is and that when I lived on Challis St I would nearly get run over on pedestrian crossings at least once a week because people don’t look/stop at them. I can imagine the same happening in Braddon.

Holden Caulfield said :

There’s others older than me on this site, but I was first using Braddon regularly when I was at uni in the early 90s. I’ve always known never to expect getting a park on Lonsdale and Mort Streets, but you could often get a park in the off-street bays of Mort Street or near the Mandalay bus.

Parking started to get more difficult when Debacle, Hive etc first moved in, which would have to be at least 10 years ago. High demand for parking in Braddon is definitely not a new problem. It’s something anyone with a bit of common sense who was starting a new business in the area should have been able to foresee or predict.

Exactly. I don’t recall a time (although my time in the Braddon area started around 2004) where you would expect to get a park down Lonsdale St, hope sure but expect, no. Usually going to park on Mort or up near the Mandalay bus area instead.

Holden Caulfield 4:31 pm 08 Jul 15

There’s others older than me on this site, but I was first using Braddon regularly when I was at uni in the early 90s. I’ve always known never to expect getting a park on Lonsdale and Mort Streets, but you could often get a park in the off-street bays of Mort Street or near the Mandalay bus.

Parking started to get more difficult when Debacle, Hive etc first moved in, which would have to be at least 10 years ago. High demand for parking in Braddon is definitely not a new problem. It’s something anyone with a bit of common sense who was starting a new business in the area should have been able to foresee or predict.

Mysteryman 1:39 pm 08 Jul 15

bryansworld said :

Mysteryman said :

dkNigs said :

What Lonsdale Street needs is some pedestrian crossings and a 40 zone, not more carparks. The carparks will come with more buildings, as it is a government requirement.

Traffic is congested enough as is to prevent vehicles from travelling faster than about 30km/h anyway, and the constatnt stop/start nature of the vehicle using the street, as well as the roundabout in the centre, means it’s already a cakewalk for pedestrians to cross just about anywhere they please. I think adding marked pedestrian crossings and new speed limit signs would be a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Wait until some clown driving at 50 km/h – or higher – knocks over a pedestrian?

Do you really think that Lonsdale St is a dangerous place? Putting up a sign and painting some lines on the road won’t stop accidents from happening, especially when there is no need for them in the first place.

The “fix what ain’t broke” mentality already costs the ACT more money than is sensible. I don’t think fabricating arguments to nurture that mentality is wise.

bryansworld 12:51 pm 08 Jul 15

Mysteryman said :

dkNigs said :

What Lonsdale Street needs is some pedestrian crossings and a 40 zone, not more carparks. The carparks will come with more buildings, as it is a government requirement.

Traffic is congested enough as is to prevent vehicles from travelling faster than about 30km/h anyway, and the constatnt stop/start nature of the vehicle using the street, as well as the roundabout in the centre, means it’s already a cakewalk for pedestrians to cross just about anywhere they please. I think adding marked pedestrian crossings and new speed limit signs would be a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Wait until some clown driving at 50 km/h – or higher – knocks over a pedestrian?

KT67 11:57 am 08 Jul 15

Mysteryman said :

dkNigs said :

What Lonsdale Street needs is some pedestrian crossings and a 40 zone, not more carparks. The carparks will come with more buildings, as it is a government requirement.

Traffic is congested enough as is to prevent vehicles from travelling faster than about 30km/h anyway, and the constatnt stop/start nature of the vehicle using the street, as well as the roundabout in the centre, means it’s already a cakewalk for pedestrians to cross just about anywhere they please. I think adding marked pedestrian crossings and new speed limit signs would be a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

I thought it was part of the share-way in the city, people act as if it is just wandering in front of cars without looking.

Plenty of parking if you are willing to walk more than 50 meters from your car. As for coffee shops, several have opened and closed in the four years I have lived nearby.

The market is pretty good at regulating itself. If you look closely the shops that offer something slightly different seem to be the ones that are thriving.

Finally a new car repair shop has opened up in the past few months near the outdoors shops. Good to see someone getting back to Braddon’s roots.

Mysteryman 11:15 am 08 Jul 15

dkNigs said :

What Lonsdale Street needs is some pedestrian crossings and a 40 zone, not more carparks. The carparks will come with more buildings, as it is a government requirement.

Traffic is congested enough as is to prevent vehicles from travelling faster than about 30km/h anyway, and the constatnt stop/start nature of the vehicle using the street, as well as the roundabout in the centre, means it’s already a cakewalk for pedestrians to cross just about anywhere they please. I think adding marked pedestrian crossings and new speed limit signs would be a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Alexandra Craig 10:57 am 08 Jul 15

Kalliste said :

Alexandra Craig said :

creative_canberran said :

Again with the parking. There is no problem.

As for the number of coffee shops, let the market decide. This isn’t Soviet Russia.

Okay, well as someone who has spoken to numerous (i.e. more than 5) different businesses in Braddon, and have had feedback from 100% of them that parking is a problem, I think I’ll stick to saying that parking is a problem. The businesses I spoke to were businesses that people would make an appointment to visit, and they all told me that they lose appointments and therefore money every single day because people have to cancel their appointments because they can’t find a parking spot. Just because you’ve seen empty parking spots in Braddon before doesn’t mean there’s not a problem. I think I’ll form my opinion based on people who actually know what they’re talking about.

While this is true, if they researched their location they would have known there was only limited parking in Braddon before opening their shop. Parking in that area, even before it became the hub it is now, has always been that way it’s just that now even more people are trying to get those limited spots.

If they didn’t want the hassle of issues with parking they shouldn’t have opened a shop in an area that is known to have no/limited parking.

On a consumer side of things, if you are a regular at a place in Braddon you are aware of the issues with parking and need to take that into consideration. I can’t believe people would cancel appointments because they can’t get a park.. they’re obviously not looking hard enough or not willing to walk.

If it’s a newish business then yeah. But Braddon wasn’t always like this was it? The businesses I’m talking about aren’t like, “trendy” to go to. I think they’ve always been in Braddon and opened up back when it was car yards and nothing more.

Before I lived in Braddon I was one of those people that almost missed an appointment because I couldn’t find a park. Though, I wasn’t familiar with the area at all and didn’t realise how close the Canberra Centre was.

Alexandra Craig said :

creative_canberran said :

Again with the parking. There is no problem.

As for the number of coffee shops, let the market decide. This isn’t Soviet Russia.

Okay, well as someone who has spoken to numerous (i.e. more than 5) different businesses in Braddon, and have had feedback from 100% of them that parking is a problem, I think I’ll stick to saying that parking is a problem. The businesses I spoke to were businesses that people would make an appointment to visit, and they all told me that they lose appointments and therefore money every single day because people have to cancel their appointments because they can’t find a parking spot. Just because you’ve seen empty parking spots in Braddon before doesn’t mean there’s not a problem. I think I’ll form my opinion based on people who actually know what they’re talking about.

As someone who lives in the area, I can say with certainty I see lazy idiots milling about trying to park directly out the front of businesses all day every day when there are dozens of free parks around the apartment buildings, let alone at the back Canberra centre carpark.

What Lonsdale Street needs is some pedestrian crossings and a 40 zone, not more carparks. The carparks will come with more buildings, as it is a government requirement.

I still hate the people who park in the middle of turning bays. If the ACT Govt want to make a bit of money, they should send a parking inspector to Lonsdale Street on a Friday and Saturday night. Sooo many illegal parks at that time.

A pedestrian crossing or two would be quite handy actually.

Grail said :

Of course there’s also the issue of Canberrans typically being public transport snobs, an attitude that has only arrived in the last thirty years from my perspective.

I don’t ride the bus here because it doesn’t really suit my work hours, however when I’m in Sydney I ride the train all the time – I think it’s the best thing in the world. If Canberra ever gets lightrail territory-wide, I would definitely use it to get around on the weekend and to go to work if the timetable suited (provided I am still alive when this happens).

Grail 10:29 am 08 Jul 15

One option to address the “not enough parking” problem is to point out to people that you are near a particular bus route. Or perhaps combine with the other businesses in the area and petition for a shuttle bus to be provided (at tax payer expense of course, since it’s the city planners who are responsible for parking or public transport).

Perth has a set of busses that run eternal shuttle loops around the CBD for free, called the CATs (Central Area Transport). They stop at particular stops which are different to the normal bus stops, and even have a nifty timer on the bus stop signage telling you when the next CAT is due.

Something like a CAT would be useful for a Moore Street, London Circuit, Mort Street & Lonsdale street circuit.

Of course there’s also the issue of Canberrans typically being public transport snobs, an attitude that has only arrived in the last thirty years from my perspective.

arescarti42 9:47 am 08 Jul 15

dungfungus said :

The now falling Australian dollar will inflate the cost of coffee to the point that people will start drinking instant stuff or go without.

No it won’t. You’d be lucky to find 50c worth of coffee beans in a $4 cup of coffee. The lion’s share of the price is staff wages and shop rent.

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