Look, there’s nothing wrong with a petrol station coffee. On the two-hour drive down to your south coast holiday beach house, there’s something almost invigorating about sucking down a brown liquid in a corrugated paper cup, in the fluoro-lit glory of a highway pit stop.
But if you want to get your vacay off to a more gourmet start though, look no further. We’ve got you covered. Here are all the south coast cafés that do some mean coffee and eats.
All & Sundry
Husband and wife team Josh and Amy Cuneo are big on good food and family. They make their own chutneys and relishes, ferment their own ginger beer sodas, and offer a pretty sweet meal deal for the kiddies—a mini-serve of the adult’s menu for a reduced price. The brekky burrito is a killer filler (black beans, potato hash, scrambled eggs, aged cheddar and chipotle sauce), or you can opt for lighter, smaller snacks like house-made ricotta and autumn plums on sourdough. Plus, they make a mean brew, courtesy of the fine beans from Sydney’s Sample Coffee.
Moore St General
The fit-out of Austimer’s Moore St General is pretty gorge. The former women’s wear/homewares shop has been transformed into your dream kitchen—all recycled timber, warm pendant lights and mismatching stools. Their sandwiches, salads and baked treats make for a super wholesome and tasty mid-road-trip lunch, or you can turbocharge with a flat white brewed with Single O coffee beans. On Fridays, score a sweet bunch of posies from local flower-power business, The Local Posy. So many heart-eyed emojis.
This Thirroul café pays homage to Albert “Buck” Hamblin, owner and cobbler at the old shoe store on the town’s main street. Even the pink and green shelves (kitted out with KeepCups and coffee merch) are a nod to the shop’s original fit out. Owner Luke Barrett is a friendly, chatty presence behind the espresso machine and expertly slings ‘ccinos, flatties, filters and cold brews (beans from Marvell Street roasters) to the neighbourly clientele. Menu-wise, it’s a simple and tasty selection of seasonal salads, paninis, ploughmans plates, and a cheeky vino if you’re keen. Fight it out the designated driver role.
Huskisson & Milton
Okay, so they have a shopfront in Cronulla, but also two outposts in legit south-coast towns. So as your dad’s favourite musician Meatloaf said, two out of three ain’t bad. Pilgrims is loud and proud about being a vegetarian café, and gawd do they deliver seriously good food and good value. The breakfast menu includes heavenly buttermilk pancakes and a massive full-breakfast fry up (including their awesome homemade baked beans) while the all-day lunch menu features their epic, is-this-the-size-of-my-head? burgers. The burgers are constructed from veggo patties of mixed grains or curried lentils and are stuffed with sprouty, salady goodness. Plus, they serve up some fully sick juice combos and coffee is from Single O. Don’t miss it!
They take their coffee seriously and ethically here—they roast their own coffee on premises, using beans ethically sourced by The Fair Trade Association. Snagging a coffee here is like drinking in some sort of grungy, space-pod future, where takeaway cups are dispensed from tubes from the ceiling and espresso machines resemble neon jukeboxes. If you’re lucky, local musicians will provide a live soundtrack to your caffeine fix. We can’t get enough.
Bound to Earth
In an otherwise ho-hum small town shopping arcade, Bound to Earth is a breath of fresh air. Their space matches clean design with warmth, hospitality and amazing coffee. They have a strong emphasis on locally-sourced produce and use an organic roast from local Alfresco Coffee in Moruya, and jersey milk from Tilba. There are also turmeric lattes and real-deal chai for the caffeine-adverse (we get it, you had eight hours’ sleep, no need to rave about it). Food-wise, it’s a small selection of pastries and cakes, and a seasonal brekky menu. Take note, they’re only open Mondays to Saturdays, 7am to 1pm.
A bronze in the Australian International Coffee Awards has got to be a good sign, right? These Moruya locals mean business with their beans, sourcing the good stuff from Peru, Nicaragua, Ethiopia and Honduras, then roasting it in their boutique Diedrich coffee roaster. Their special house-blend, Black Cyclist, is the aforementioned award winner, and makes for a pretty smooth and caramelly cup of coffee. We recommend you make a stop on your next road trip down the South Coast at this little Moruya shopfront.
Candelo General Store & Café
It’s a little detour from the coast, but we dig Candelo General Store for its friendly, small-town vibes. They do a fab bacon and egg roll (a steal for $10), toasted sangas (our favourite is the leg ham with Bega cheddar and house-made mustard pickle) and a buddha bowl for lunch. And they source their bread and coffee from Wild Rye’s in coastal Pambula (also worth a visit). Tip: check out their special board for seasonal menu goodies. Best of all, these guys bring a strong cake game—the pastry cabinet features old-school treats like hedgehog slices, lemon slices, caramel slices (gluten-free, girlfriend), and passionfruit slices to boot. Take one (or three) for the road.
Nook Tea & Espresso Bar
Hey Sydney, your #costofliving sucks so we’re going to move to Bega instead. Here, you can nab smoky baked beans on sourdough for $7 and a toastie loaded with artichoke, zucchini and pesto for eight. It’s highway robbery, but it feels like we’re doing the robbing. If you’ve got more cash-money to burn, they also do an epic Reuben sandwich for $12 and in even better news, their excellent coffee is made from Gabriel coffee roasters in Chatswood.
Mister Jones Espresso
This popular south coast café/gallery hits all the right notes: neighbourly bonhomie, a cosy fit-out and a good cup of Joe. It feels like you’re hanging out in your hippie next-door-neighbour’s house, in the best way, so stock up on beautiful pastries from the local bakery Honor Bread, and check out the amazing artwork on the walls (and on the mural, hanging above the shopfront). Be warned—they’re only open 7am to 12pm, so time your journey well!
Wanna walk and sip? Check out our favourite walks on the South Coast.
Image credit: Caitlin Hicks