The local cafe is a big part of the community and the Australian way of life. It is a place where people come together, talk about their lives and feel part of the area they live in. When we visit somewhere new, the best way to get a "feel" of an area is by sitting in the local cafe and watching the locals come and go. When we visit these cafes, we are also supporting a small business who has worked hard to build it from the ground up. It also means we are supporting the local workers they hire to work there and the local businesses who supply them - the "knock on" effect goes on and on. Although Canberra has many franchises, outlets and cafes that can be found in other cities, there are locally-owned cafés who have worked hard to create something uniquely Canberran - and then expanded and grown. The following list are just several who have made a mark on Canberra and have their own success story. Why don't you give one a try this weekend?
Patissez FreakShake and FreakBurger. Image: Original photos sourced from Patissez Facebook
1/ Patissez is a café in Manuka who rose to national fame in 2015 when they designed the FreakShake ™, which had locals and visitors queuing up for their calorie-laden shakes. TV reporters and even the Prime Minister himself were lining up for shakes that were piled high with ice blocks, pretzels and giant chocolate cookies, precariously wedged into the top of each one. Since this rise to fame, they have also opened another café in Canberra City and took the step to go global and open a café in Singapore, to rave reviews. They have since expanded to FreakBurgers and Cakes - what will they be super-sizing next?. See their website here.
FreakShake Mania from 2015. Image: Original photos supplied by Patissez Facebook
2/ Ricardo's Café and Patisserie is a popular north side café, located at the Jamison Centre in Macquarie. The owner and patissier, Rick De Marco, is inspired by celebrity dessert king Adriano Zumbo and his own colourful creations have become legendary around Canberra. Although everything served in the café is exceptional, it is Ricardo's colourful desserts that diners come back for time and time again. After such popularity on the north side, Rick then opened up his south side cafe Space Kitchen, with food that is out of this world. Not bad work for a young man who opened Ricardo's at age 18 and Space Kitchen at age 28. See their website here.
Bite into a surprising dessert at Ricardo's (Macquarie) or Space Kitchen (Woden)
3/ Frugii Dessert Laboratory began small as an ice cream stall at the local markets, selling authentic flavours of ice cream that got the locals talking. Their popularity grew and when the lines started to get too long - before the market had even opened - they knew it was time to open their own store. In 2015 they opened up their dessert café in the trendy Lonsdale Street in Braddon and had queues snaking down the street. It is one of the most popular ice creameries in the city and for good reason. Part of Frugii's success is trying out new, surprising flavour combinations. For example, before Christmas in 2016 they released a new Bacon flavour - and they sold 14 litres in one hour! Buy a cup and let your tastebuds go to heaven. See their website here. To stay up to date with their new flavours, see the Frugii Facebook here.
4/ Lonsdale Street Roasters is a local coffee business, who started small and began roasting their own coffee in Lonsdale Street in Braddon. They then opened the Lonsdale Street Roasters Eatery in 2010 to showcase their coffee and Canberra locals soon spread the word of their delicious, smooth tasting coffee. The "SMH Good Food Guide" were quick to catch on and promoted their coffee to the country. With growing success, they then opened another café at the other end of Lonsdale Street in 2012 called Lonsdale Street Roasters 7, as well as two takeaway coffee outlets called Remedy on the Kingston Foreshore and in Belconnen. They also sell their coffee to numerous cafes around the city to use in their own cafes. See their website here.
5/ Ona is another Canberra coffee success story which began in 2008, by roasting and grinding their own coffee in a warehouse in Fyshwick. They then opened up Ona Coffee House in Fyshwick and it now has three cafés in Canberra - including the popular Cupping Room. The Ona name rose to international fame when owner and founder Sasa Sestic was awarded the "2015 World Barista Champion", after competing in Seattle. They sell their blends to over 100 cafes around the country. See their website here.
6/ Espresso Room is a Canberra-owned franchise with coffee supplied by Ona coffee, above. Espresso Room opened their first café in 2012 at Woden Westfield Shopping Centre and after great success, then they opened at Belconnen Westfield Shopping Centre and Tuggeranong Hyperdome. According to their Facebook, a Gungahlin outlet is on the way. In 2016 they also opened up their first outlet in Sydney at Gateway at Circular Quay. See their website here.
7/ GreenHouse Coffee and Co opened up late in 2016 and is a collaboration between both Ona and Espresso Room (above). Both owners and coffee connoisseurs have come together to create a light and airy café in the Canberra Centre, in the heart of the CBD. GreenHouse Coffee and Co use a unique blend of Ona Coffee in this fresh and modern café, which has a leafy outdoor verandah overlooking the city streets. GreenHouse Café has already become a success story in Canberra, after just a few short months since opening. See their Facebook here.
These are just a handful of Canberra's success stories around the region, with many more ambitious Canberrans opening their own cafes every year. All you have to do is walk along the cafes strips on the Kingston Foreshore, Bunda Street in the city and Lonsdale Street in Braddon to see cafes bursting at the seams each weekend. With so many successful cafes leading the way, the local Canberra's cafe scene has a bright future ahead. Whether these cafes stay in Canberra and we have them all to ourselves, or they spread their wings and grow elsewhere, I personally can't wait to see what happens next...