Coffee culture in the bush

Great coffee can be found across regional NSW due to a roasting boom


Life & Style
Therese MacFarlane, Braela Davies and Helen Webber of Thom, Dick & Harrys West Wyalong. Photo by Rachael Webb.

Therese MacFarlane, Braela Davies and Helen Webber of Thom, Dick & Harrys West Wyalong. Photo by Rachael Webb.

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Coffee lovers don't have to head to the city for a fix anymore because there are so many great cafes in the bush.

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Forget about drinking instant coffee in the bush – today’s regional towns are serving up brews that would appease the fussiest of Sydney’s cafe latte set.

According to industry experts there is a coffee roasting boom in towns across NSW due to an ‘education of the palate” where demand for good coffee is higher than ever before.

“We love a cappuccino, we are a milk-based country growing up on milkshakes,” Royal Agricultural Society head coffee judge Paul Mannassis said, who owns Mocha Coffee.

Mr Mannassis first predicted a coffee boom for Australia in 1987 and now says there is a cappuccino machine in nearly every town.

Coffee with a dash of lemon myrtle and native mint picked from the garden at Steam and Cedar Gladstone. Photo by Samantha Townsend.

Coffee with a dash of lemon myrtle and native mint picked from the garden at Steam and Cedar Gladstone. Photo by Samantha Townsend.

In 2000, he could see first-hand the coffee demand while travelling regional areas including Bathurst.

By 2015, he said first-class roasters popped up everywhere from the South Coast to NSWs New England region.

He said this boom of roasters in main regional centres had a flow-on affect to outlaying towns due to brand building locally as well as service and training to those customers.

“The culture of Australia is changing,” he said.

For 17 years coffee has been the main staple of Thom Dick and Harry’s at West Wyalong.

“Not only do we have locals but we get Melbournites on their way north who are our main customers because of our coffee,” owner Naomi Nicholson said.

The cafe sources its beans from Art of Espresso at Young, who started roasting coffee for the first time in early 2005 with a 3kg Diedrich roaster in a purpose built shed on their property in Greenethorpe.

“It’s good to support a local company and they train all of our staff,” Ms Nicholson said.

Further north at Trangie, Michelle Hill is a teacher’s aid from Monday to Friday but by the weekend she serves up coffee and cake from her Whisk Away Vintage Van.

The business, which has been going for six months, started due to a demand for good coffee in her town.

“We want good coffee in the bush,” Ms Hill said.

“Our customers vary...you get farmers in their work gear and Akubras turn up and order skim milk late with a shot of hazelnut...I’m always surprised.”

Before she set up the business, Ms Hill said she undertook research to find the right coffee beans, which she sourced from Manly-based Seven Miles Coffee who have a supplier in Dubbo.

Every weekend the van is usually set up at the Goan water hole in Trangie but this weekend it will be at the swimming pool due to a local competition.

At Walgett Katie Murray moved to the town for love but when she arrived she not only wanted to create a job for herself but saw the need for “somewhere for people to meet”.

Mrs Murray opened the Stone’s Throw during the worst drought on record in 2014 but with great local support, she has managed to keep the cafe open.

“We would not have survived if it wasn’t for local support, everyone made this happen,” she said.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro cooking with the owner and chef of Limone Restaurant in Griffith, Luke Piccolo. Photo supplied.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro cooking with the owner and chef of Limone Restaurant in Griffith, Luke Piccolo. Photo supplied.

“I feel it’s not my business but it’s a community business.”

Anyone that knows Deputy Premier and Regional NSW Minister John Barilaro will tell you he is a massive foodie.

So much so that during a town meeting in Delegate in his electorate in Monaro in 2017 – he cooked lasagne for the whole town.

He even has a burger at Cafe 111 in Queanbeyna (electorate of Monaro) named after him called the Barilaro burger.

It’s this passion for food that saw the filming of Barra’s Regional Food Tour  – social media videos that have created a food map of regional NSW that put a spotlight on the cafes and restaurants.

“Regional NSW is not just home to some of the world’s best food and fibre, it is also home to some of the best coffee in the country,” Mr Barilaro said.

“As the son of Italian migrants I know and love coffee (and food).

“One of the benefits of spending hundreds of days on the road in regional NSW every year, is knowing I can wake up anywhere in the state and start my day with beautiful coffee at a trendy cafe.

“Regional NSW is home to world-class chefs, baristas and publicans that are creating coffee and cuisines that will blow people away in the city, and I want to spread the word.”

Here’s some of the coffee shops this journalist has found while travelling around the state:

  • Narromine: Soul Food Depot
  • Broken Hill: Silly goat
  • Nyngan: Mart’s Cafe
  • Coonabarabran: Feathers Cafe
  • Kempsey: Chaddies
  • Gladstone: Steam and Cedar
  • Gulargambone: two eight two eight.
  • Orange: Groundstone Cafe
  • Millthorpe: The Old Mill Cafe
  • Bowral: Coffee Culture
  • Griffith: Bertoldos
  • Walcha: Graze Cafe
  • Tamworth: Hopscotch
  • Armidale: Altitude Coffee Roastery
  • Port Macquarie: Black Fish Cafe

Where our readers get their coffee fix:

  • West Wyalong: Toppy Takaway
  • Armidale: Westside Espresso 
  • Manilla: Burrells Bazaar
  • Yass Valley
  • Lithgow: Tough Grind Barbers
  • Brewarrina: Muddy Waters
  • Murrurundi: The Tattersalls
  • Trangie: The Studio
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