As a local working on Rundle St, I regularly need a good coffee. I have traversed the street, and settled on three top contenders.
Enjoying coffee involves more than the beverage - atmosphere is important. Along the street, the nicest place to sit with your latte and a paper is at Felici. Often busy, a seat outside at peak hour can be hard to come by, but during the day you can often find a nice spot underneath the umbrellas. They keep a good spread of reading materials, above the usual selection of free magazines.
Felici coffee is smooth, yet borders on bland. It lacks that rich coffee flavour that many serious coffee drinkers look for. However, if you're not a big coffee drinker, or like the ritual of getting coffee but not the strong taste, Felici's coffee will meet your needs.
The standout on the street is Cibo, on the corner of Frome St and Rundle St. Its roaring coffee trade attests to its quality. Locals from all around the area are greeted by name by the baristas. It is rare to see the pavement by the coffee window empty.
Cibo's strength is its consistency - I know I will always get good coffee, quickly. They use a flavoursome bean that has a natural sweetness and very little bitter aftertaste. It is strong enough to sate my needs, but not overpowering.
As a rule, I turn my nose up at coffee chains. However, I fought the habit and accepted that if I want the best coffee, I go to Cibo. In terms of atmosphere it is not as nice as Felici. Its inner is crowded with tables and chairs, and has a cramped feeling compared to the more spacious Felici. Cibo does however have a great range of pastries, cakes and gelati to keep any sweet tooth happy.
A new contender on the scene is Quenche, which opened two months ago, offering a healthier alternative coffee, along with regular blends. Their regular blend is soft and smooth, very easy to drink. Their focus however is the "healthy coffee" which uses a bean containing very little caffeine, yet supposedly maintains its taste.
On trying a healthy coffee, I am pleasantly surprised. It still has that coffee kick and a true coffee taste, but follows it with a lovely vanilla flavour. I'm impressed.
Lastly, just off our top three, if you work along the street Brunelli's will give you a $2 coffee. However, their cup sizes are disappointing, and their bean has a roasted nut flavour that some may like, others may not. There is a lot to be said for a $2 coffee, but given the size of the cup, you might as well pay the $3.40 and get yourself a coffee you know you'll love from further up the street.