Once upon a time, travel in regional Australia meant frequent bad-coffee-stops, reheated pastries and in the end, regret at not packing an esky and thermos.
Those days are well behind us. Country New South Wales now boasts coffee and eating houses you can count on, beautifully designed and decked out with feeling, a little hat-tip towards local history and gorgeous vistas.
The next stop in our series of great coffee stops of South East NSW is the southern edge of the Bega Valley.
Sprout Café and Produce Store, Eden
Address: 134 Imlay St, Eden
Ph: 02 6496 1511
Hours: M – F 7:30 am to 4 pm • Sat & Sun 8 am to 2 pm
BIT ON THE SIDE: Local produce, vegan & organic menu
COFFEE: Jaques Coffee, roasted in Mareeba, FNQ
Sprout is a friendly, ethical café and by far the most contemporary eating house on the main street of Eden.
Sprout’s owner Karen Lott strongly believes in the organic-sustainable-local philosophy, with fresh plentiful produce available to buy in the shop. The menu reflects a seasonal bent and the café participates in a Grow for Eden project encouraging local gardeners to supply Sprout with any excess produce.
The excellent breakfast menu is served until midday and is pretty luscious. The Sprout Stack and Sprout Baked Beans are definitely worth a go.
Given their philosophy, the café menu showcases heaps of local product including the award-winning Eden Smokehouse’s, gravlax, smoked chicken and salmon. Local eggs, local sourdough, local relish and fresh 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 good, strong and delicious.
Pambula’s Pantry, Pambula
Address: 25 Quandolo St, Pambula
Ph: 02 6495 6102
Hours: Open 6 days – 7:30 am to 3 pm
BIT ON THE SIDE: Wine by the glass on a lovely back deck.
COFFEE: ONA Coffee
Serving well-made coffees in a Melbourne-style café with colourful Mexican accents is Pambula’s Pantry.
Frida Kahlo herself looks down from a stunning wall mural as you munch on Gluten Free granola, brekkie bowls, well-poached eggs and many delicious things on sourdough or toasted Turkish rounds from Wild Rye’s Bakery.
House-made cakes and muffins are loaded on the front counter. The menu has a pretty healthy focus, but just a hint – don’t even start on the paprika-salt fries with aioli, you won’t want to stop!
The day I visited, my coffee (imbibed on the deck under the cedar) was perfect. Smooth, creamy, chocolaty and not too hot. I haven’t tried 1080 Grind coffee before; apparently, it is ethically sourced and roasted in small batches, just up the road in Mystery Bay.
Wild Rye’s Roastery, Pambula
Address: 45 Toallo St, Pambula
Hours: Open 7 days, 7 am to 11 am
Ph: 02 6495 6649
BIT ON THE SIDE: Coffee-making paraphernalia & gifts for worshippers of the bean.
COFFEE: They’re roasting!
Pambula Village has a funky feel and Wild Rye’s Roastery is in a classic weatherboard shopfront up on the ‘high road’, not to be confused with the famous Wild Rye’s Bakery down the road.
Sitting on the stoop of the Roastery under tall, 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, (next time I’ll partake of an extra shot in my latte). 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.
Take-away only and no food available, but I say, that stoop is just fine.
Bar Beach Kiosk, Merimbula
Address: Bar Beach, off Lake Street, Merimbula
Hours: Seven days 7.30am to 3pm. 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 cup of tea, an Indonesian anti-inflammation shot, a bite to eat or you just want to 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.
This place is good for kids, those after coffee & cake, and has a small, clever menu that includes vegan dishes, but also things like French toast with lashings of bacon. Toasties are delicious, lawn is comfy, staff are friendly (did we already say that?) and customers are happy – especially when the Nor’Easter is blowing when this little protected beach is perfect for a swim.
Address: Shop 15 The Plaza, 20-30 Market Street, Merimbula
Hours: M-F 8 am to 2.30pm, Sat-Sun 8 am to 2 pm
BIT ON THE SIDE: Location – close to the water, whale watching, shops & salons
COFFEE: Industry Beans, Melbourne
Just along from the town’s boardwalk, there’s a little green oasis in the Merimbula backstreets.
Mormors is the latest café to appear on the Merimbula scene and is definitely the most contemporary looking establishment in the precinct.
Outside there are many tables under trees with a view towards the lake, but it’s also in the hub of some of Merimbula’s best shopping.
The menu is sumptuous, produce-driven and full of rustic and seasonal temptations, smoky toasted sourdough sandwiches, salads, rostis, well-poached eggs and even a secret fave of ours – black pudding.
The café is busy, feels light and airy, quite organic-chic. Coffee is always good, Industry Beans are an award-winning company roasting small batches in Melbourne. Breakfast here is recommended.
The Waterfront, Merimbula
Address: Shop 1&2, The Promenade, Merimbula
Hours: 7 days from 7:30 am
BIT ON THE SIDE: Absolute waterfront!
A big, busy café/restaurant with excellent service, right on the lake, what’s not to like?
Our latte was a good strength, creamy, and delivered swiftly though they were full.
The Waterfront offers an excellent breakfast menu until 11:30 am every day, with egg dishes, Belgian waffles, pork belly, benedict, savoury danishes, roasties, 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, tourists, and the lake has all number of watercraft from SUPs to dolphin watching boats zipping past, including the ever-changing light, so there’s a visual feast as well.
Special note: kids menu and Wheatley Lane Sourdough available.
Did we miss your fave café? Give it a shout out in the comments below.
Editors note: Lisa Herbert dined at her own expense. Reviews are honest and not based on a commercial relationship.