We’ve been out and about on the coast updating our cafe listings after a strange time of lockdowns and isolation.
It seems the Far South Coast is undergoing a caffeinated renaissance.
Cafe culture is blooming with the arrival of several new coffee houses, some also serving excellent food, some keeping it simple, and many with a serious focus on doing right by your daily cup.
One thing is for sure: you get an extra serve of unique character on the side when you visit our coastal cafes.
Here’s where we’ve been lately:
Sprout Cafe and Produce Store, Eden
ADDRESS: 134 Imlay St, Eden
Ph: 02 6496 1511
Hours: 8 am to 2 pm Mon to Sat. Closed Sunday
BIT ON THE SIDE: Local produce, vegan and organic menu.
COFFEE: ONA Coffee, Canberra.
Sprout is a friendly, ethical cafe on the main street of Eden.
Sprout’s founder Karen Lott set up the cafe/store with a strong organic-sustainable-local philosophy. Sprout’s new owners are continuing this approach and then some, making sure there is plentiful local produce in the shop, and that the menu reflects a fresh seasonal bent.
The all-day menu (8 am to 2 pm) boasts plenty of breakfast options including Eggs Benedict and Florentine, and pancake stacks. For lunch choose from burritos, mushroom burgers, abundant sandwiches and a daily parade of delights in a sensationally well-stocked cabinet.
Given its philosophy, it is no surprise the cafe showcases heaps of local products, including award-winning Tilba Dairy cheeses, local eggs and greens, local sourdough and gluten-free loaves, local relishes and pressed juices – if you’re a locavore or a vegan you’re pretty much on a winner here. A healthy experience.
And the coffee? My single-shot latte was strong, creamy and delicious.
Florabel Cafe, Eden
ADDRESS: 195 Imlay St, Eden
Ph: 0439 511 544
Hours: 8 am to 2 pm Mon to Sat; from October Sunday 9 am to 2 pm
BIT ON THE SIDE: Fashion, retail and an upcoming terrace wine bar.
COFFEE: Adore Cafe’s Dark Wolf blend.
Florabel is a licensed cafe proud of its returning coffee customers.
An all-day menu of breakfast and lunch dishes includes shakshuka, quiches, rolls (including a banh mi), sandwiches and seasonal specials. Think slow-cooked stews in winter and sushi for summer.
All cakes, preserves and sweets are made on the premises, and there are loads of takeaway options for the family.
Special events such as high tea for Mother’s Day are already frequent, but soon the back area of this ample building will house a sustainable fashion and retail space with creative installations, and a wine and tapas bar looking out over Mt Imlay. Can’t wait!
Dine-in and alfresco options available, with accessible lifts to the rear space.
Fig Cafe & Bar, Eden
ADDRESS: 1/126-128 Imlay Street, Eden
Ph: 02 6496 1475
Hours: Open seven days – 6 am to 8 pm Mon to Fri.
8 am to 8 pm Sat and Sun.
BIT ON THE SIDE: Local wine, beer and spirits and a tapas menu.
COFFEE: Single Origin Coffee.
Under the shade of a huge Moreton Bay fig tree on a large front deck, you can enjoy a delicious Single Origin coffee, and something delicate and sweet, or go hard and dive into the impressive lunch, dinner and cocktail menus.
When we visited there were many groups of locals enjoying a coffee with cake, or large green salads with seared salmon and a glass of local wine.
Other items include tomahawk steaks, tapas, KFC (Korean fried chicken), Reuben sandwiches, tacos and nachos, creative breakfasts like French toast fingers with a Nutella dip, and gluten-free muesli and yoghurt.
Tuesday is taco night and evening specials are constantly updated. Tip: Fig’s kitchen closes at 8 pm, but who’s to say you can’t dally under the Moreton Bay fig a little longer with a locally distilled something?
Switchfoot Boardstore, Pambula
ADDRESS: 24C Quandolo St, Pambula
Ph: 0409 813 431
Hours: Mon to Sat 9 am to 2 pm
BIT ON THE SIDE: Hand-shaped surfboards, ethical clothing and surf accessories.
COFFEE: Wild Rye’s.
A delicious coffee served in a surf shop. How very Sapphire Coast!
One would be hard-pressed to find a hand board shaper in Australia these days. But Jed Done is often to be seen through the glass, shaping away in his studio at the back of this little surf shack on the main street.
As well as a decent coffee, you can enjoy a number of caffeine-free hot drinks like a Magic Mate, cacao, combined with a perfect biscuit treat from Bermagui’s famous Honorbread.
Hand-held hero jaffles made with Wild Rye’s Turkish breads, real butter and vegetarian fillings really hit the spot after a surf, and you can pick up some cool clothing and accessories at this cute village store.
A little bit of sunshine on the main street.
Toast Cafe, Pambula
ADDRESS: 25 Quandolo St, Pambula
Ph: 0480 170 648
Hours: Open seven days – 8 am to 2 pm (Closing 1 pm Sundays)
BIT ON THE SIDE: Wine, cocktails and a lovely back deck.
The Toast team is extremely serious about coffee. Owner-manager Nicky trains and supports the barista staff to be the best they can be.
And it’s not just coffee … coffee substitutes, shrooms, herbals, abundant teas, cocktails, shrubs and wine; there is plenty to sate any thirst.
House-made cakes, slices and grab-and-go lunch items are loaded on the front counter.
The menu is contemporary and chef Ollie quietly works away infusing layered, international flavours into classic cafe breakfasts and lunches and then struts his stuff on Trust the Chef dinners and Mexican nights.
Pulled-pork burgers; gumbo; Toast’s signature avo on toast, with whipped goat’s cheese, seared cherry tomatoes and balsamic reduction on ciabatta; colourful, creative bowls of healthy vegetarian or Thai salads; or creamy, fruity puddings – you can order from the big kerbside windows and take in Pambula’s village atmosphere, relax with table service inside, or under the big shady cedar on the back deck.
The day I visited, my coffee was perfect: smooth, rich, creamy and enjoyable on the shady deck.
Wild Rye’s Roastery, Pambula
ADDRESS: 45 Toallo St, Pambula
Hours: Open seven days, 7 am to 12:30 pm
Ph: 02 6495 6649
BIT ON THE SIDE: Coffee-making paraphernalia and gifts for worshippers of the bean.
COFFEE: They’re roasting their own!
Pambula Village has a funky feel and the roastery lives in a classic weatherboard shopfront up on the “high road”, not to be confused with the famous Wild Rye’s Bakery around the corner.
Sitting on the stoop of the roastery under wide verandahs with the aroma of roasting beans drifting through the French doors is pretty much quintessential Pambula cool.
Coffee over the pressed-tin counter is Wild Rye’s Seasonal Blend, smooth and mild. Single-origin beans from El Salvador and Ethiopia are roasted for filter coffee and the roastery’s cold batch ice coffees. Choice of beans for your home machine includes Himalayan Single Origin, Limu Gera Ethiopian, and beans from El Salvador, and all ground to your requirements.
Some of Wild Rye’s classic pastries are available, takeaway only, but I say that stoop is just fine.
Stella & Mirriam’s Vintage Tea Room, Pambula
ADDRESS: 4/33 Quondola Street, Pambula
Hours: Seven days 10 am to 5 pm
Ph: (02) 6495 6645
BIT ON THE SIDE: The charm of sitting among old-world china, crystal and glassware.
COFFEE: Come for the tea – dozens of flavours and blends of leaf tea from the classic blacks and greens to experimental and healing.
Close your eyes and imagine an ultimate afternoon tea party. And here you have it.
You’ll find perfectly made pots of tea that sit on their own flame, a choice of tea sets to suit your mood, lashings of whipped cream, loads of jams and preserves, piles of scones of course, but also some extremely fine and decadent cakes.
The service is friendly and relaxed, and nothing is too much trouble. There are also games for the kids, a piano if you feel like tickling the ivories, and a sense of being caught in time.
I love visiting Stella’s when I’ve had enough of coffee, when I’m craving a raspberry cream cheesecake with a serve of extra cream, washed down with a real Earl Grey!
Bar Beach Kiosk, Merimbula
ADDRESS: Bar Beach, off Lake Street, Merimbula
Hours: Seven days 7:30 am to 2pm. Closed during winter and bad weather
Ph: 0422 286 708
BIT ON THE SIDE: The most spectacular view across the bar to Mt Imlay.
COFFEE: Black Mountain Coffee, Canberra.
Whether you want a decent coffee, good strong tea, an Indonesian anti-inflammation shot, a bite to eat or to just sit staring open-mouthed at the view, you are welcome here.
The Merimbula Bar is a dangerous waterway, and from the outdoor picnic-style tables there is always something to watch; every day the colours of the bar, the tides and the mood of the sea are different.
But the staff are always friendly and the coffee is excellent: dark and chocolatey, good and robust. Cold brews and loads of other beverages, including milkshakes, are also on offer.
This place is good for kids and those after coffee and cake, and has a small, clever menu that includes vegan dishes but also things like French toast with lashings of bacon. Toasties are delicious, the lawn is comfy, the staff are friendly (did we already say that?) and customers are happy – especially when the nor’easter is blowing when this protected lake beach is perfect for a swim.
ADDRESS: Shop 15 The Plaza, 20-30 Market Street, Merimbula
Hours: Mon to Sat 8 am to 2 pm, Sun 8 am to 1 pm
BIT ON THE SIDE: Location – close to the lake boardwalk, dog friendly, order at table.
COFFEE: ONA Coffee, Canberra
Just along from the town’s boardwalk, there’s a little green oasis in the Merimbula backstreets. Mormors popped up five years ago and has gone from strength to strength, also growing in size.
Outside are tables under big shady trees, all with a view towards the lake, but it’s also right in the hub of some of Merimbula’s best shopping.
The cafe is busy, sunny, feels light and airy, quite organic-chic. The coffee is consistently good, and breakfast here is recommended (great porridge in winter).
Check out the daily specials of fresh seasonal dishes and big Reuben sandwiches, burgers, Wild Rye’s pastries, salad bowls and a great selection of teas for those no-more-coffee days.
The Waterfront, Merimbula
ADDRESS: Shop 1 & 2, The Promenade, Merimbula
Hours: Seven days from 7:30 am
BIT ON THE SIDE: Absolute waterfront with added spoonbills!
COFFEE: Vittoria, Melbourne.
A big, busy cafe/restaurant with excellent service, right on the lake – what’s not to like?
Our latte was a good strength, creamy, and delivered swiftly though the restaurant was full of locals and tourists.
The Waterfront offers an excellent breakfast menu until 11:30 am every morning, with egg dishes, Belgian waffles, pork belly, savoury danishes, toasties, or you can just take in the salty view with a croissant and coffee.
Our lunch dish of a delicate Vietnamese prawn salad was fresh, crunchy and beautifully dressed, so with a glass of cold sauvignon blanc, all cravings were sated.
The boardwalk here is teeming with walkers, joggers, locals, dogs and tourists, and the lake has all manner of watercraft from SUPs to dolphin-watching boats zipping past. With the ever-changing light, there’s a visual feast as well.
Fleetwood Coffee, Merimbula
ADDRESS: Shop 4/2 Market Street, Merimbula
Hours: Seven days from 6:30 am to 1:30 pm (Opening 6 am in summer)
BIT ON THE SIDE: Light-filled, on the lake and mangrove promenade.
COFFEE: Allpress Espresso.
Owners Tash and Liam are new to Merimbula, but not new to sourcing, making and serving excellent coffee.
The couple saw the opportunity to move from the Byron Shire to the more ”chilled out” vibe of Merimbula when they found this great location, and they love it.
Situated on the town boardwalk of the Merimbula lake front, they’re busy from 6 or 6:30 am every day serving walkers, bird watchers and large groups their rich, tasty brew.
A simple selection of hearty toasted sandwiches using Wild Rye’s bread, plus vegan muesli parfaits, Honorbread croissants, bagels and kardemummabullar, looks fresh and inviting.
The elegant retro fitout created by Liam is warm and stylish, all in the colours of a really great long black – dark, rich, with its golden crema. Fleetwood’s coffee is excellent.
Nourish Wholefoods & Cafe, Merimbula
ADDRESS: Shop 7/4 Market Street, Merimbula
Hours: Seven days: Mon to Fri 7:30 am to 4 pm. Sat and Sun 7:30 am to 3 pm
Ph: 0401 289 603
BIT ON THE SIDE: An impressive array of vegan and plant-based ingredients and victuals, hot-drink powders, tubs of carob and low-sugar sweets and snacks, skin care, tableware and yoga clothing!
COFFEE: Social Espresso, Burleigh Heads.
Vegans and non-caffeine drinkers, rejoice! Fabulous coffee is to be found here, but the focus is on vegan, vegetarian and non-caffeine-based enjoyment.
You’ll find all kinds of hot and cold beverages, from sacred cacao, longevity-inducing potions, matcha and more, plus a daily lunch board that is proudly vegan: dahls, Moroccan beans, vegan tacos and soups, smashed avo, plus a counter cabinet that starts out each day packed with gorgeous goodness.
Relax on the boardwalk that skirts Merimbula Lake, or settle in to the little dining room/shop next door. All have views of the mangroves and lake, with warm, smiling service.
Did we miss your fave cafe? Give it a shoutout in the comments below.
Editor’s note: Lisa Herbert dined at her own expense. Reviews are honest and not based on a commercial relationship.