Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear leather aprons and are more likely to get excited about steam wands, extraction times and golden crema than they are about spandex suits or supervillains. The gun baristas at these cafés pump out top-notch coffee day after day – and they won’t turn you away if you’re paying by card.
Adelaide’s bohemian Bar 9 sprung up a few years ago on the long bent elbow of Glen Osmond Road… which eventually becomes the road to Melbourne. That branch closed in 2016, but the newer downtown Bar 9 Central – in the food precinct below David Jones – perpetuates the original café’s very Melburnian ethos: communal tables, bewhiskered baristas and serious coffee. The mushroom ragù on sourdough with poached eggs, watercress and truffled honey is a steadfast recuperator at any time of day, best consumed with a couple of cups of the seasonal ‘Black Label’ house brew. Urban bean fiends can’t get enough.
Chris Jarmer’s savvy café/restaurant leads the charge into Bowden, a reinvented industrial area on the CBD fringe: new streets, new townhouses, a new idea of what ‘inner west’ means in Adelaide’s suburban hierarchy. Occupying an old pub (the only ‘old’ thing still here), Jarmer’s is disciplined but casual, offering inspired meats, pastas, seafood, salads and coffee worth moving into the ‘hood for. Kickstart your heart with a Bowden berry shake (raspberry, strawberry, blueberry and yoghurt), or a supreme long macchiato.
Mend your broken heart at the Sad Café, an earnest, heartfelt little backstreet coffee nook in Adelaide’s East End. Humble, bookish students and bearded types congregate, looking for a quiet spot to park their single-gear, sip one of Adelaide’s best coffees and forget this morning’s philosophy lecture. Sad is a super spot for a short black and a sandwich. With art on the walls and artful conversation, a visit to Sad will turn your frown upside down.
This endearing coffee roaster in deepest, darkest Black Forest is raffishly retro: Laminex tables, vinyl chairs, beaten-up chesterfields, scarified floorboards, chalky blackboards and a galaxy of rice-paper lanterns. The blackboards are a nod to the clientele – more than a few pram-pushers wheel through the front door, plus real-estate agents, designers, tradies, grandmas and motorcycle cops. A Dalek-like roasting machine thrums in the corner, surrounded by hessian bean sacks from Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica and beyond. Despite the Laminex, Carnevale’s coffee is sublime. Food offerings include good vegetarian options (pumpkin and chickpea fritters; falafel burger); staff are unfailingly cheery; and what a cool mural!
Don your bag o’ fruit and head down to Goodwood for a butcher’s hook at this neat little café. There’s not much that is Cockney about this stretch of Goodwood Road these days – there are more hip cafés and restaurants here than seems plausible. Trouble and Strife is one of the better ones, with terrific breakfasts and lunches (try the parmesan and roast chickpea salad, with carrots, walnuts, rocket and halloumi), plus fab muffins, croissants, biscuits, substantial soups and – most importantly – a sense of humour. The coffee is as good as it gets, and service comes with a smile. Nice one.