My Favourite Perth Cafes

Just a quick list of caf�s in Perth that I think do great coffee, and/or have really nice food or atmosphere. The list is short, but mainly because since getting my own espresso machine, I don’t feel the need to go out as often to drink bad coffee, when I can make equally bad coffee at home (or much much better :) ).

So the list…

Core Espresso Under Allendale Square on St Georges Tce, currently owned by the effervescent Corey, a passionate man who knows his coffee. They use their own blend of coffee roasted by 5 Senses. Mainly caters for the business crowd, and as such they are only open Monday to Friday, and it’s all takeaway. Still, they are probably doing the best coffee in Perth at present, and love to chat with coffee geeks of all varieties. Core barista Vanessa recently came third in the WA Barista Competition, and everyone really knows their stuff. Espresso fans, your cause is not lost.

Lemon EspressoSt Quentins Ave, Claremont. Next to a dodgy looking Japanese takeaway shop is a simple green neon sign saying “CAFE”. I think its the last remnants of a previous failed venture, in the location now held by Nolan of Lemon Espresso. Nolan and Tess, manager and barista, came second and fourth respectively in the WA Barista Competition. The place oozes cool, and despite being filled with Claremont socialite wannabe’s, has a great relaxed vibe (in part because of Nolan’s collection of Kiwi dub albums). They too use a custom 5 Senses blend, and Nolan knows exactly how to make it sing. Try the pistachio nougat.

RocketfuelStirling Hwy, Nedlands (near corner of Broadway). Another custom 5 Senses blend (seeing a trend here?). These guys also do takeaway coffee only. The unique thing about Rocketfuel is that they have a funky drive through section. Yes i know, drive throughs are bad in most situations, but when you’re using great coffee, on excellent equipment (3 group LaMarzocco Linea), and you know how to make it well, then the drive through convenience is very worthwhile. These guys were the source of my morning coffee most days when I worked in the area, and I’d happily go back anytime. You pay by the shot, which makes sense really, and their mini pies got me through many a breakfastless morning.

VoyageWest Coast Hwy, Sorrento (down the road from Hillary’s). I’m more of a fan of the food at this place than the coffee. They use all organic produce which is always really fresh and tasty. I have driven the 45 minutes to get there on many occasions just to have the bacon and eggs. They use a Fair trade blend roasted by Toby’s Estate (from East Timor i think), which the first time I went was amazingly good, but hasn’t lived up to its own standards ever since. I’m a bit skeptical of how fresh it would be, considering Toby’s Estate is based in NSW… But depending on who makes it for you, it’s still a really nice cup.

Just Espresso Preston Point Rd, Como. I must admit that this only gets a light mention. I’ve only been here a couple of times, and have my doubts about it from a coffee geek point of view. The place looks really nice, and the wait staff and barista I chatted to were really friendly. The problem starts with the fact that the barista didn’t know when his coffee was roasted, and also couldn’t tell me what was in it, because he doesn’t know. The owner claims to have both fair trade coffee and a Cup of Excellence bean in the blend, amongst 7 types of beans in total… Which all just seems a bit off. Without saying which cup of excellence he’s using, from which year, and in what quantity, or which fair trade bean… then it all seems a bit empty. Having said that though, I ordered an espresso and was pleasantly suprised with how good it was. Not as complex as Core, but definitely very drinkable. Food and atmosphere were also nice.

Soto Espresso Beaufort St, Mt Lawley. I used to think the coffee at Soto was the best in Perth. It’s a hangout for funky Mt Lawley types (who are kind of cross between Leederville types and Subi types), which looks nice, and has a generally friendly vibe. They use Essenza coffee, which is roasted locally by Mena Samios in Mt Lawley. I’ve since moved on to other places where I prefer the coffee, but I still like Soto for a nice breakfast and a reasonable coffee. Coffee is really dependant on who is making it for you. A great barista can bring out a weak coffees best features (or smother its bad features with well textured milk), a poor barista will kill both the milk and the espresso, and tell you they’ve been doing it for years, so they know best. Not that this has happened at Soto, but I’m skeptical of any place that relies too much on reputation.

Other than those listed above, honorable mentions for MilkD in North Perth, Rosso on St Georges Tce, Tank under London Court, and of course the ever hip Cafe 130 in Leederville (where i am still the reigning Connect 4 champion).

Apologies to the majority of the cafe’s in Fremantle, which I never seem to make it to, and to anywhere else that has so far eluded my hawk-like radar.

Thats all I can think of for now… Suggestions are welcome in the comments, but hopefully this gives you an idea of a few nice places to go.

24 thoughts on “My Favourite Perth Cafes”

  1. Hi Simone,

    Thanks for the link, and yeh the description is cool (If not a kind of lame pun made up by Ed of Tomatom :) ).

    Thanks for the link to Jennifers blog, I haven’t come across it before, but its good to know there are others on the hunt for quality coffee too.

    I’m liking your blog too, it’s great to have a reminder of events happening in Perth because im really bad at knowing what’s going on outside my own little world, and it’s all too easy to say that nothing ever happens here.

    Thanks for stopping by anyway, hope you find something you like.

  2. Yes, it often seems like not much is happening in Perth! It’s even surprised me how much there is! And I can’t even find the time to cover it all!
    Also, there’s not 1 site where all the info is on, I have to go to all sorts of different sites so that I at least get most of the major events!

    Yes, I’ve seen lots that I like on your blog, not that I cook much lately (it goes in phases, sometimes I try lots of new things(Jamie Oliver for a while), then there’s long periodes I just really can’t be bothered!!
    Or don’t have the time!

    :)

    Simone

  3. Well I hope you keep it up because it’s great. I already found out about the Japanese Art Exhibition which i would have otherwise missed, so thanks for that.

    As for the cooking… Laziness is no excuse :) I have countless recipes on here that you can make in under 20 minutes max ! Your taste buds will thank you for the effort.

    Cheerio,
    Matt

  4. Hey Matt,

    Great list you have going there and I tend to agree with your summation of Just Espresso.

    I spoke to the Barista there the other day about the very same thing(what sort of coffee/where from). He said hmmm I am not entirely sure, we are just using up a mixture of what we have left in the freezer and some other beans….not a confidence booster I must say.

    Coffee was still way above average compared to most, and Charles is always great to chat with!

    Mimmo

  5. Hi Matt,

    Just read your synopsis of us. Provided the coffee was good I didn’t realise our particular blend was of such importance (not being much of a coffee geek myself) Testament to that I guess is the fact an outsider who won the recent barista worked at muffin break and used the standard muffin break blend. If however, you would like to learn more about us and meet me in person, feel free to contact me on my mobile (which is always on) 0410 876 770.

    I dont go around to other cafes asking them these questions because:
    (a) my own business and family life keeps me busy enough;
    (b) i have absolute confidence in the integrity our products; therefore
    (c) i couldn’t care less what anyone else was doing
    At the end of the day there is a lot we don’t divulge but for good reason – a lot of the intellectual property we have built up has taken time and effort and those who try to copy us do respect that.

    Mimmo, over the last few months we have been doing lots of research and testing to map rates of decay in coffee freshness after subjecting the coffee to various levels of freezing. i don’t think mike was being deliberately vague but please understand, every coffee company going around comes through asking us questions which are essentially none of their business and even though i know you he he doesn’t so please don’t get the wrong idea.

  6. oh and by the way, when we first opened three years ago we did have cup of excellence coffee. since then a number of things have happened:
    1. the price of cup of excellence lots have become astronomical and even even comodity coffe has doubled in price, now when you dd the cost of shipping, customs clearances and duties, then add roasting in which you lose between 18-25% in weight in a 60kg roaster of which it is only 1 part you can end up with coffee that costs more than i care to explain.
    2. we have built relationships with a lot of the small and larger estates which submit their samples to the initial round of cup of excellence judging year after year and this enables us to secure the same coffees at more viable rates;
    3. our store is being renovated albeit rather slowly

    look forward to hearing from you!

  7. Hi Charles,

    Thanks for you feedback. Firstly I should state that I’m not in the business of
    tearing anyone down. I’d rate your coffee as some of the best in Perth, and
    that’s why it’s on this list in the first place.

    My criticisms are purely from an anal coffee geek point of view, that 99% of the population would not give a second thought to, and so I think they should be treated as such.

    As you took the time to respond however, I thought I’d expand on my initial
    comments with some more context.

    I roast my own coffee at home. I source the beans online and have a few crude
    methods by which I get them to the point where I can turn them into espresso. I
    know what goes into every blend I put together, and so when I go to a cafe
    nowaday’s it always interests me to know what is in their blend.

    You may not be interested in what every other cafe is Perth is doing, but as a coffee geek, that’s what we do. The passion and the effort that goes into perfecting espresso is at the core of our interests, and
    as such its hard to detach from that. I am not interested in copying anyone, just being given enough information about the coffee I’m drinking as to make an informed opinion of it.

    I respect the fact that you are trying to protect your intellectual property, I
    just find it a shame that so many cafes treat the contents of their blends like
    trade secrets. When I go to a restaurant, I expect to be told what’s in the food I am ordering, I don’t see why it should be any different for coffee.

    The thing that caught my attention at your cafe was that the fair trade element
    of your blend and the cup of excellence was advertised quite heavily. This was a while ago now (3 months or more), so I can’t comment presently. Perhaps I’m
    getting too used to the “open source” ideology, but I had thought that if you
    were happy to advertise the fact that you use fair trade and cup of excellence
    beans, then you’d be keen to let people know what they are.

    Your point about Jeremy from Muffin Break winning the WA Barista Competition is
    apt because it proves that an excellent barista can do great things with average beans. I can guarantee that you would not be able to walk into any old Muffin Break and get a coffee as good as the ones Jeremy makes, and in the same way, I could take your blend to a multitude of cafes in Perth and it would not taste as good as it does in your cafe.

    I was at the WA Barista Competition this year, and was watching Jeremy as he
    performed his competition winning routine. He is an excellent barista and his
    beans were good enough to make him competitive. It was his skill as a barista
    that won the competition however.

    This is quickly turning into an essay, so I’ll sign off by saying once again that I enjoyed the coffee I had last time I went in and would be happy to drop by for another anytime and have a chat.

    Cheers,
    Matt

  8. Fair enough Charles, thats a good point that I didn’t really think of :)

    I didn’t know you could freeze roasted beans, I thought the freezing would have a negative impact on the oils and residual moisture in the beans. But as the proof is in the pudding your coffee is still at the top of my list!!

    Mimmo

  9. Mimmo, the seafood industry has invested a huge amount of money on techniques for snap freezing. Provided you follow some common sense rules the early results are encouraging but i would not seriously attempt this unless you had hardcore refigeration.

  10. Hey Ken,

    I think I might have talked to you before when you were selling your Silvia via Coffee Snobs. Thanks for the list, although there’s not much on there that I would add over my current selection.

    What’s the name of your cafe ? Might have to drop by… And what sort of equipment/beans are you running there ? I’m always keen to find good new places. I’m guessing 363 Cambridge is somewhere near Cicconi’s ?

  11. Hi Charles,

    Just a few comments:

    – Firstly an explanation of the competition (following on from what Matt said): certainly not taking away from Jeremys (the WA Barista Champion from Muffin Break) accomplishment, the competition was very tight with only a few points separating the top competitors and Jeremy was the only competitor to have previous competition experience. This follows along with the idea that all processes of the espresso making process are important in producing a winning cup a great barista can make a standard coffee sing and a terrible barista can make an award winning coffee taste like dishwater. So in this sense Id have to say that every blend is important, as is every other component of the espresso making process.

    – Id also make the comment that its a perfectly acceptable standpoint for you to take that you dont want to find out what others are doing in the coffee industry but its also perfectly valid for others within the industry and even more so for those outside of the industry (consumers) to take an interest in what everyone else is doing. I would suggest that this is one of the primary ways for people to learn and for the industry as a whole to move forward and without this open-minded, learning approach the coffee industry within Australia would soon become stagnant and lose its competitive edge.

    – I would agree with you that there are many coffees out there on the market that are not cup of excellence yet taste incredible. However, with both cup of excellence and fair-trade certifications on your advertising material I would have assumed that a measure of transparency would be needed to back up those claims. As Matt stated: its not about people wanting to steal your ideas and techniques but more about being informed enough to respond to both the taste in the cup and the statements you make in your advertising. Along with Matt, I havent been into your caf for a couple of months so obviously I dont know what the situation is now I apologise if Ive gone over an old topic.

    Hope the renovations are going well and I look forward to coming down for a coffee again sometime soon.

    Cheers,
    Ben

  12. Hey all, just wanted to let you all know that we’ve sold Core Espresso now and we’re starting a new espresso bar in West Perth called Epic Espresso in Outram Street. We should be open sometime in September and coffee fanatics are very welcome anytime.

    Cheers,
    Corey

  13. Corey, this is very exciting news for me as I work in West Perth and have always felt frustrated about the lack of decent coffee in the area. What end of Outram Street will you be in – or what would the closest cross road be?

  14. Hey Natalie, our site is on the corner of Hay Street and Outram Street (between Miss Mauds and the hairdresser), we are shopfitting at the moment and should be open in early September. We are aware of the lack of great coffee in West Perth, that’s actually why we made the choice to move into the area. If you enjoy quality coffee then you are going to love what we do. We are going to be profiling single origin coffee beans each month as well as our custom blend. We will be preparing our hot chocolates using real belgian chocolate. We have hand made sweet foods, high quality muffins and a gourmet range of paninis created by a very successful local chef. We are even introducing a new tea percolation method for our loose leaf teas that hasn’t been used in Perth before. We have sourced the finest of everything, our cups are Italian made and we are the first store in Perth to import and use Synesso coffee machines (the best in the world). Sorry, this wasn’t meant to be a promo for our new store I just got started typing and my excitment about this project took over :) Oh Well, we’d love to see you in the store when we open Nat, please drop in and introduce yourself to us.

    Cheers,
    Corey

  15. It sounds great, Corey. I walked up and checked out your location during my lunch break last week and now I’m looking forward to the opening. I’ll definitely introduce myself when I come in.
    Good luck in your preparations,
    Nat

  16. Just a quick message to let everyone know that Epic Espresso will be open this Friday for its first ever day of trade. We will open late on the first day to get all our last minute prep done (9.00 whereas normal start will be 6.30). If you’re into high quality coffee then we would welcome you to drop in.

    Cheers,
    Corey

  17. I agree with the caf picks though have struck off Core for now after 3-4 really average FWs and some dissappointing Espresso. Every think is there for Great coffee so will give it some more time (say 3 months).

    Some ratings (ramblings)….

    SEPTEMBER 06

    Would include VANS in Cott for Essenza roast – IMO VANs does Essenza best in Perth better than MT Lawley/ Nth Perth locations. Will depend on Barista out of 6 recent visits 2 were average but 4 very good.

    Hubbles Yard on George St East Freo is worth a visit – New place bedding down but hell bent on high consistant standards. Linea and 5 Senses and good attitude :)

    Boucla on Rockeby Road does Fiori roast really well and has a great vibe – like this place A LOT. 8oz porcelain cups too (gets an extra point in my book).

    Lemon in Claremont takes the cake – great 5 Senses raost and made really really well – excellent consistancy between Baristas. Great hot choc + mochas too! Espresso produces a real welcoming ZING after a few minutes – start your day there!

    Fix – Outram St West Perth – Nice, like Lemon – a cut above. Some Robusta in their roast blend is a good point of difference. Good team and gr8 service/ approach/ attitude :) SImilar Zing to Lemon too.

    Epic Espresso – ****Highly anticipated****

    Soto – Up and down milk quality see-saws and overall highly “Barista dependant”. Some Barista’s there will put out average coffee to keep the queue moving – a big no no. As this is a local my hope is that they will invest in higher standards, equipment and quality focus. Especially on the milk. I get burnt milk here – I wached the barista leave the jug by its self on the ledge whirlpooling away for way too long – no attention and poor technique a big no no. When I see this stuff I just want to run out after ordering… I don’t want that coffee that’s coming!!! Any way, I have good examples for this place too – jus watch out!!!! Any cafe owners or Barista reading this – I will wait for good coffee, a bad (too hot/ burnt/ weak/ astringent or sour/ bizzare recipie) really disappoints.

    Oxford St – I am tired of O.S. for years it has had places that just make coffee – I don’t see any business there taking it up a level. And though coffee is consistantly good and acceptable, with guys like Lemon, FIX and Epic (to be expected) taking it up a notch “good” has become average.

  18. Hey John, thanks for the encouraging words. When my team were at Core, in my opinion our coffee was very much above average, since myself and my team leaving i’ve heard not so positive reports. Anyway we would welcome you into Epic, we’re opening on Friday and have put a lot of time, resources and energy into quality coffee. We look forward to you dropping in, please introduce yourself.

    Cheers mate,
    Corey

  19. Best coffee in West Perth is Epic. Outram and Hay (one back).
    We tried this bohemian cafe in Leederville we had hear about Oxford 130, I have never been treated so poorly in all my life…just rude service like she was doing me a favour by existing. Coffee was bitter and burnt. The inside looked like is hadn’t been cleaned in 10 years…looking forward to getting back to Melbourne

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