Local coffee providers are roasting their own brews and supplying specialty coffees to outlets across the region and country. They’re doing excellent things with beans here and as testament to that, Canberra is home to 2015 World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic, the founder of ONA Coffee. Sasa’s knack for making the perfect cup has set the standard for roasting, blending and café culture pretty much anywhere in Australia.
The best cafés in Canberra
It may surprise you to learn that Canberra makes the country’s best coffee. But it’s objectively true. Ona Coffee’s founder, Sasa Sestic, won the World Barista Championship in 2015, and his employee Hugh Kelly has won the Australian Barista Championship two years running, in 2016 and 2017.
With their pretty miniature garden area outside, and an interior panelled in warm wood and hand-glazed tiles, centred around two striking bars (one brass; the other rich green marble, wrapped around a tiny, totally open kitchen), Mocan and Green Grout is nothing if not adaptable.
The team behind ONA live and breathe coffee, describing their dedication as a “relentless passion”. Their Manuka location is a relaxing, grassy spot for a cup of the good stuff and you can buy your favourite blend at the shop afterwards. Choose from roasts such as the non-confronting yet satisfying Black Betty, the Hitman (“if you want the job done smoothly”), head of the pack Don Organic (“he leads by example”), or the “fruit party in your mouth” that began it all, the Founder.
Swing by No 23 Lonsdale on a Saturday and you’ll get really close to the roasting process, with the sounds and smell of delicious coffee filling the bustling eatery. Choose from 16 humorously named blends such as Assassin (“an assault on the senses”), Honeybear (“a wild roast to bring out your inner grizzly”), Johnny Cash (“dark, deep and brooding”) and Wild Child (“a voluptuous temptress”).
These guys source their coffee globally and by season, basing their expert picks on three elements: taste in the cup, traceability from origin, and freshness. Pair their current flavour finds with something from the breakfast or lunch menu – sweet cornbread with poached eggs, bacon and avocado salsa, or banana bread French toast with ice cream and caramel popcorn should go down a treat with your espresso.
It’s caffeine with a conscience at RBE, where they source ethically produced green coffee from countries including Brazil, Guatemala, Ethiopia and Tanzania. They only work with fresh crop beans in season, which subtly varies the character of their blend each month. Come for the coffee and stay for the well-priced menu, which features a tortilla pocket filled with scrambled eggs, mozzarella, Spanish tomato sofrito and bacon for a mere $9.90.