Hot in the City: Pit Stop Coffee #1 is about to fill the coffee shaped hole in your next Cotter visit

Michelle Taylor 11 February 2021 42
Karl and Narelle

Karl and Narelle are bringing some coffee magic to the Cotter. Photo: Kazuri Photography.

A Cotter Dam BBQ is nearly as iconic to Canberra as our concrete bus shelters. Groups spread out across the span of grass on either side of the car park playing soccer, frisbee and basketball. Maple trees cast their shade across the expanse but in autumn drop countless leaves to warn that winter is on its way.

The sizzle of BBQ onion and sausages fills the air with mouthwatering aromas and children play in the shallows of the Cotter River. Afterwards, the adults pry their kids from the playground to go on an obligatory stroll along the Cotter Dam Discovery Trail. It’s a fantastic Canberra tradition.

Next Saturday, though, on 13 February, the Cotter Dam BBQ is getting a boost. One word: coffee!

Pit Stop Coffee

Coffee, coffee, coffee! Photo: Supplied.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I pulled in to the Cotter, rushing and frazzled in my efforts to get there early to grab a table for our BBQ. And there, parked at the entrance like a welcome mirage, was a coffee van! Narelle and Karl Brenner beamed out from the van’s serving window, genuinely delighted to be out meeting folk at the Cotter and serving them wonderful coffee.

Thankfully, I had some coins in the car as the Cotter’s lack of internet coverage makes online payments an impossibility. My cappuccino certainly made the wait for everyone else to arrive much sweeter.

Pit Stop Coffee #1 is a new venture for the Brenners whose trial runs have exceeded expectations.

Narelle admits, “We are beginners at this. It is a total change for us. We used to be in the public service. We retired and then we thought, ‘let’s do something different’. Our daughter had bought us a coffee machine and we realised: We really like coffee!”

Ham and tomato toasti

Ham and tomato toastie. Photo: Supplied.

Karl adds: “We made coffee for friends and family. They began coming over for the coffee, so we thought we would expand. Our original plan was to cater to the workers building out at Whitlam.”

The Whitlam plan fell through, but friends and family encouraged them to take their van out to the Cotter.

A native-born Canberran, Narelle loves the Cotter, and husband Karl has a strong connection to the area.

Pit Stop Coffee menu

Narelle and Karl plan to add ice-based drinks and ice cream to their menu soon. Photo: Michelle Taylor.

“I am a motorbike rider from way back and we always do the Cotter Loop,” Karl says.

“Since the Cotter pub burned down in 2003, there has been absolutely nothing there to refuel thirsty riders. So we thought, let’s service the bike riders and the people who have their picnics down there. And, wow – we are overwhelmed!”

Narelle and Karl trialled their coffee van over the past few weekends at the Cotter, and they feel buoyed by the joyous welcome they have received.

“We already have regulars! One fellow came over the other day and said, ‘You should remember my order’,” Narelle laughs.

Pit Stop Coffee #1 serves up lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites with the usual milk varieties. They also stock cold canned drinks, cook fresh bacon and egg rolls and toasties, and sell cakes and slices.

Pit Stop Coffee's bacon and egg roll

Pit Stop Coffee’s bacon and egg roll. Photo: Supplied.

Kart says their next acquisition will be a freezer so they can add iced drinks and ice creams to their menu.

Narelle and Karl source their ingredients locally whenever possible. They use coffee roasted by Bean Culture and eggs are from Amberly Farm in Kambah.

Pit Stop Coffee #1 opens on 13 February and will serve all comers from 8:00 am until about 4:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Follow Pit Stop Coffee on Facebook. Remember, with no internet connection, it’s cash only.

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42 Responses to Hot in the City: Pit Stop Coffee #1 is about to fill the coffee shaped hole in your next Cotter visit
Carey Russell Carey Russell 8:37 am 06 Feb 21

Oh how i miss the pub,

Paul Van Ewyk Paul Van Ewyk 9:09 pm 05 Feb 21

I agree mate

Shane Hayward Shane Hayward 7:09 pm 05 Feb 21

I’ve been buying great coffee out there off a nice lady in the spill ya beans van for the last few months, why would there need to be 2 vans out there ?

Philippa Ellis Philippa Ellis 7:42 pm 04 Feb 21

Danni Elle-if you head out that way with the kids and/or Bernie when he’s back

Sue Bowden Sue Bowden 5:46 pm 04 Feb 21

Anna Shaun Brett!😋☕ next Cotter loop🚵

ColinJane Dutta Copeland ColinJane Dutta Copeland 5:03 pm 04 Feb 21


Bronwyn Mitchell Bronwyn Mitchell 4:09 pm 04 Feb 21

Great idea

Helen Weldon Helen Weldon 2:50 pm 04 Feb 21

Karen Baker ... coffee when we get back?

Natalie Brown Natalie Brown 1:08 pm 04 Feb 21

Great news but also disappointing for other operators who have been trying to vend here for a long time. The processes should be more transparent.

Magarac Singh Magarac Singh 12:48 pm 04 Feb 21

Georgie Doyle Lesieli O'Connor Sharon Wright lets go out there

    Lesieli O'Connor Lesieli O'Connor 1:01 pm 04 Feb 21

    Magarac Singh yeah that be sweet as 😊

    Sharon Wright Sharon Wright 1:06 pm 04 Feb 21

    Sounds good. They aren't there until next weekend though.

    Lesieli O'Connor Lesieli O'Connor 9:46 pm 04 Feb 21

    Sorry we are can’t do this weekend but we can join you all another time if you head there 😊

Elizabeth Cox Elizabeth Cox 9:40 am 04 Feb 21

Great news!

Sarah Brake Sarah Brake 11:09 pm 03 Feb 21

Jennifer Kerr gibraltar picnic 🤯

Jon Savy Jon Savy 11:02 pm 03 Feb 21

As long as there’s plenty of bins in place and being emptied, otherwise I fear we’ll see more empty coffee cups, lids and used wrappers spoiling the waterways and picnic areas out there.

Another thing for people to whinge to the government about “the bins are always overflowing” and “the Cotter used to be a clean place”.

Yes, a small number of slackers do leave their picnic rubbish out there already, but this business will, unfortunately create a bigger problem regarding litter. Will there be a requirement for this business to keep the area clean? To provide and empty bins in its immediate surrounds? I’d be surprised.

Monica Tiffen Monica Tiffen 10:54 pm 03 Feb 21

Hope you do well!

Lyn Houghton Lyn Houghton 9:03 pm 03 Feb 21

Wonderful news

Sharon Woods Sharon Woods 8:12 pm 03 Feb 21

Woohoo this is excellent!

Chris Millwood Chris Millwood 7:50 pm 03 Feb 21

Very much needed👏🏼👍🏻

Joanne Egan Joanne Egan 6:17 pm 03 Feb 21

How wonderful! All the best with this venture!

Jess Lee Jess Lee 1:01 pm 03 Feb 21

Now just add ice cream 🍦 and you have a winning combo!

Jen Morangi Jen Morangi 9:35 am 03 Feb 21

Hate it. The cotter is meant to be a place where we could go and get away from the hussle bustle a bit in a natural setting. Has turned into just another urban playground where no one seems to understand how a picnic works without needing the instant gratification of takeaway coffee/food. There's no more escapism close to canberra.

I'm not saying it isn't a great business model for these vendors (cos it is!, because people have become lazy and dependant) but money shouldn't be allowed to be a key driver in these settings.

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