Coffee culture is brewing in the regions (and here’s where to find coffee worth visiting)


The quest for quality coffee is becoming a nationwide obsession, with demand for a really good brew now extending far beyond Australia’s urban centres.

Vittoria Coffee General Manager Rolando Schirato reports that growing demand for locally roasted specialty coffee has led to a significant increase in regional sales over the past two years.

“We are responding to more requests from new operators and increased volumes from existing businesses,” says Schirato.

Kickaboom in Sydney offers locals the opportunity to learn more about specialty coffee with renewed tasting events. Photo: Wolter Peeter

The trend extends to smaller specialty roasters such as St. Ali, Market Lane, Reuben Hills and Seven Seeds.

“We calculated the numbers for this year to date and saw around 60% year-on-year growth,” says Fleur Studd, director of Market Lane.

“New cafes are opening in underserved communities… [where] there is literally no other specialty coffee.”

Kickaboom's white dish is worth a look.

Kickaboom’s white dish is worth a look. Photo: Wolter Peeter

Some Cafe is one of a kind in the small town of Collector, NSW, where it roasts Single O beans. Co-owner Ollie Chiswell, who grew up “on a little old farm across the highway”, has discovered specialty coffee while visiting a mate’s cafe in Canberra.

“Once you find specialty coffee and realize how amazing it is, you start trying to find it wherever you can,” he says.

“The community is so supportive that they seem fascinated and eager to learn more about the coffee we use and where it comes from.”

Roasters attribute the growing popularity of specialty coffee in part to the exodus of more than 50,000 residents from Melbourne and Sydney at the height of COVID-19 restrictions.

“When COVID hit, coffee consumption changed dramatically,” says St. Ali’s general manager, Lachlan Ward.

“It accelerated the spread of specialty coffee to suburban cafes.”

COVID has accelerated the spread of latte drinkers from city to countryside, where they have sought the familiar comforts of a...

COVID accelerated the spread of latte drinkers from city to country, where they sought the familiar comfort of a specialty brew.

The lockdowns gave Altius Coffee Brewers owners Hannah and Jarrod Pageot “the big boost” they needed to move their cafe from Flinders Lane in Melbourne to High Street in Bendigo.

“A store like ours, where the focus is just on coffee, was pretty new,” says Hannah, who grew up in the area.

“But we were convinced they were ready for it.”

Kickaboom offers locals the opportunity to experience specialty coffee with renewed tasting events.

Kickaboom offers locals the opportunity to experience specialty coffee with renewed tasting events. Photo: Wolter Peeter

Dylan Johnson says the rise in people working from home has seen a slew of new customers come into Kickaboom, the Glenbrook cafe he opened with partner Alisha Kooy before the pandemic.

“Business barely dropped because there were a lot of people heading into town looking for the kind of coffee we were offering,” he says.

Johnson took the knowledge he gained while running the Surry Hills-based Paramount coffee project and brought it with him to the Blue Mountains, where he and Kooy grew up.

Kickaboom's customer base has grown as telecommuting policies have seen more people stay in the suburbs.

Kickaboom’s customer base has grown as telecommuting policies have seen more people stay in the suburbs. Photo: Wolter Peeter

“There are a huge number of people I’ve worked with over the past 10 years who were coffee roasters in the city and then opened their own in places like Byron Bay and Orange,” Johnson said.

Dandenong Justice Specialty Coffee owner Joy Kinczel says she was exposed to great coffee when she lived in Melbourne and worked with St. Ali’s beans.

“Coming to Dandenong and not having a place to go for coffee was a big reason to open the cafe,” she says.

Kickaboom offers a variety of specialty roasters, including Reuben Hills and Market Lane.

Kickaboom offers a variety of specialty roasters, including Reuben Hills and Market Lane. Photo: Wolter Peeter

“All the time I’ve lived here, we’ve never come across another cafe like this.”

Bermagui Boneless Cafe co-owner Tenzin Butt spent 10 years traveling the world before returning to the South Coast.

“It wasn’t that long ago that it was really hard to find a good cup of coffee anywhere on the South Coast,” Butt says.

“But I know a lot of people who grew up here, left the area, discovered coffee and then brought it back with them when they came home, whether that meant opening their own coffee and using specialty beans or just seek it out as a customer and create more demand.”

Butt’s passion for coffee intensified under the leadership of Redbrick Coffee of Canberra, who supplied Boneless until Butt began experimenting with roasting his own beans this year.

“When we first opened, everyone was ordering really hot flat whites with two sugars, but now we’re making a lot more black coffee, about ten times that much,” Butt says.

“We have definitely grown our customers’ coffee palates with us.”

Five of the best coffees in the NSW region


Bermagui Vegetarian Cafe began serving home-roasted Wabi Sabi coffee in June, with beans ethically sourced from Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia. A Mexican-inspired brunch menu includes palo santo-infused caramel sauce drizzled with buckwheat pancakes, chimichurri scrambled eggs wrapped in a brekkie burrito, and jalapeno cheese toast. Picturesque views of the Sapphire Coast are a welcome bonus.

1/14 rue Lamont, Bermagui; 02 6493 4057;


While specialty coffee has been a part of the Blue Mountains coffee scene for many years, it was Kickaboom that brought single origins, filter coffee and fine roasts to Glenbrook. Market Lane and Reuben Hills are available to sample homemade almond and macadamia milk, while tasting events have restarted this month. The menu is inspired by travels abroad, including the gado gado with tofu, fried eggs and lotus chips.

6 Ross Street, Glenbrook;

Some coffees

A ten-minute detour on the highway from Sydney to Canberra will be well rewarded with freshly brewed Single O coffee from Some Cafe. The 200-year-old building has been lovingly restored with whitewashed walls, roaring fireplaces and wooden shelves stocked with locally made honey and preserves. To eat, there are homemade cakes, a selection of brekkie sandwiches with milk bread and seasonal salads.

5/7 Murray Street, Collector; 0493 271 744;

Mad Hatter Drink Lab

A change in zoning regulations paved the way for artisanal food and beverage stores to open in empty warehouses in Orange. Mad Hatter Drink Lab is a versatile, dog-friendly space on Lords Place that opened its factory doors just as COVID restrictions began. It serves hot cups of Pablo & Rusty coffee alongside classic toast and Japanese-inspired sandos.

147 Lords Place, Orange;

Moore Street General

Sustainability is at the forefront of this welcoming community center located just up the road from Austinmer Beach. The baristas use beans from Wollongong independent roasting company Abstract Coffee, the brainchild of certified Barista World Championship judge Boris Georgiou. The menu features locally grown fruits and vegetables in birch bowls, bagels and stuffed pastries.

38 Moore Street, Austinmer; 0466 248 559;

Five of the best coffeehouses in the Victoria region

black vice

Coffee choices span three pages here, where beans are roasted on-site and sourced from Costa Rica, Burundi, Ethiopia and beyond. There is a blend of three Gesha, 13 unique origins, and beans can also be purchased for home. To eat, there are blueberry rolls, soba noodle bowls, and many other dishes from around the world.

946 Heidelberg-Kinglake Road, Hurstbridge,

Cafe Nabo

Kingsville is only nine kilometers from the CBD, but until Café Nabo opened last year, the suburb was underserved in specialty coffee. This corner spot uses beans from Market Lane and focuses on Scandinavian cuisine, with smorrebrod, lots of pickles and hearty dishes like porridge and broth. Cobb Lane provides pastries.

2A Williamstown Road, Kingsville, no website


Classic brunch dishes are complemented by more creative sandwiches and coffee by Bean Cartel at this eastern suburban newcomer. Roasted nearby in Notting Hill, the beans come from all over, just like the inspiration for McKinly’s menu. Expect a carne asada sandwich (yeah, like the taco), sourdough caprese and bacon-filled croissants, scrambled eggs and tomato relish.

186 Belmore Road, Balwyn,

sixpence coffee

This Bright coffee and roastery has been running well for nine years, but its Albury outpost is a 2022 addition, bringing the aroma of espresso to a small shop in a downtown arcade. Brewing single origin, decaf and blends, the wood-clad take-out counter also serves pastries from Frankies in West Albury.

Shop 20, City Walk Arcade, 519 Dean Street, Albury,


Hannah and Jarrod Pageot ran Altius on Flinders Lane for seven years before the pandemic brought business to a halt and they left town for Bendigo. They haven’t forgotten how to make a great cup of coffee, using Market Lane beans and beautiful ceramic mugs from a small display case with pretty pink tiles and brass accents.

110 High Street, Bendigo,


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