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

The search for quality coffee is becoming an obsession across the country, and the demand for truly good beer now extends far beyond Australia’s urban centers.

Vittoria Coffee CEO Rolando Schirato reports that growing demand for locally roasted specialty coffee has caused regional sales to increase significantly in the last two years.

“We’re getting more inquiries from new operators and higher volumes from existing companies,” says Schirato.

Kickaboom in Sydney offers locals the chance to learn about specialty coffee with revamped cupping events.

Kickaboom in Sydney offers locals the chance to learn about specialty coffee with revamped cupping events. Photo: Wolter Peeters

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

“We ran the numbers this year to date and have seen around 60 per cent growth year over year,” says Market Lane director Fleur Studd.

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

Kickaboom's flat white is worth traveling for.

Kickaboom’s flat white is worth traveling for. Photo: Wolter Peeters

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

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

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

Roasters partly attribute the growing popularity of specialty coffee to the exodus of more than 50,000 residents from Melbourne and Sydney during the worst COVID-19 restrictions.

“When COVID hit, coffee consumption changed dramatically,” says St. Ali CEO Lachlan Ward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kickaboom offers locals the opportunity to learn about specialty coffee with the revamped cupping events.

Kickaboom offers locals the opportunity to learn about specialty coffee with the revamped cupping events. Photo: Wolter Peeters

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

“Business just dropped because a lot of people who used to travel to the city were around and looking for the type of coffee we offered,” he says.

Johnson took the knowledge he gained while managing 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 grew stronger as WFH policies kept more people in the suburbs.

Kickaboom’s customer base grew stronger as WFH policies kept more people in the suburbs. Photo: Wolter Peeters

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

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

“Coming to Dandenong and not having anywhere to go for coffee was a great reason to open the cafe,” he says.

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

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

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

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,” says Butt.

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

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

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

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

Five of the best coffees in the NSW region

no spikes

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

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


While specialty coffee has been a part of the Blue Mountains coffeehouse scene for many years, it was Kickaboom that brought single origins, filter coffee and refined roasts to Glenbrook. Market Lane and Reuben Hills are available to sample homemade macadamia almond milk, while tasting events restarted this month. The menu is inspired by foreign travel, most notably the gado gado with tofu, fried egg, and lotus fries.

6 Ross Street, Glenbrook;

some coffee

A ten minute detour on the highway from Sydney to Canberra will be well rewarded with freshly ground 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 produced honey and preserves. For dining, there are homemade cakes, a selection of breakfast sandwiches on pan de leche, and seasonal salads.

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

Mad Hatter’s Drink Lab

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

147 place of the gentlemen, orange;

Moore Street General

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

38 Moore Street, Austinmer; 0466 248 559;

Five of the best coffees in Victoria

black vice

The coffee options stretch to three pages here, where beans are roasted on site and sourced from Costa Rica, Burundi, Ethiopia, and beyond. There is a mix of three Gesha, 13 single origins and home beans can also be purchased. For lunch, there are blueberry pancakes, soba noodle bowls, and more that span the globe.

946 Heidelberg-Kinglake Rd, Hurstbridge,

Nabo Coffee

Kingsville is only six miles from the CBD, but until Cafe Nabo opened last year, the suburb didn’t have enough specialty coffee services. This corner spot uses Market Lane beans and focuses on Scandinavian food, with smorrebrod, lots of pickles, and cozy eats like porridge and broth. Cobb Lane offers cakes.

2A Williamstown Road, Kingsville, no website


Classic brunch dishes are complemented by more creative sandwiches and coffee from Bean Cartel at this newcomer to the eastern suburbs. Roasted not far away in Notting Hill, the beans are sourced from everywhere, as is the menu inspiration for McKinly’s. Expect a roast beef sandwich (yes, like the taco), caprese on sourdough, and croissants stuffed with bacon, scrambled eggs, and tomato relish.

186 Belmore Road, Balwyn,

sixpence coffee

This Bright roastery and cafe has been going strong for nine years, but its Albury outpost will be added in 2022 and will bring the aroma of espresso to a small shop in a downtown arcade. Brewing single origin, decaf and blends, the wood-paneled takeaway counter also serves cakes from Frankies in West Albury.

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

Further inside

Hannah and Jarrod Pageot ran Altius on Flinders Lane for seven years before the pandemic brought business to a halt and they moved out of town for Bendigo. They haven’t forgotten how to make an amazing cup of coffee, using beans from Market Lane and beautiful ceramic mugs from a little shop with pretty pink tiles and brass details.

110 High Street, Bendigo,

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