Just a quick list of cafÔŅĹs 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 Espresso – St 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.
Rocketfuel – Stirling 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.
Voyage – West 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.