8 Central Coast cafes worthy of a weekend road trip
Get out of the city and sip specialty coffee in a historic warehouse or smoked chilli mochas in an art gallery.
Compared to the likes of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, the Central Coast may not come to mind as a specialty coffee destination. Yet, away from the city crowds, close to the water and without the urban dwellers, are a number of local cafes serving freshly roasted brews in a sustainable and ethical manner.
Concrete Playground have featured eight coastal cafes that not only bring the community together through a shared interest in specialty coffee and honest food, but have also revitalise certain parts of the coast.
Only a three-minute drive from Avoca Beach is an old corner store housing specialty coffee cafe Like Minds. It’s evident, once stepping inside, however, that Like Minds is so much more than just a place to drink coffee. It’s also an art gallery, creative hub, design venue and market garden — a community space to be used and enjoyed. Opened by local couple James Rolph and Melissa Morgan, the cafe has a focus on sustainability with a “zero waste” food policy. Local produce is also used where possible and herbs are picked every morning from the on-site garden. But, back to what we’re all (most likely) here for: coffee. Like Minds’ brews are made on beans by Sydney’s Fat Poppy Specialty Coffee and come cold, hot, black, white, iced and spiced. Yep, if you’re feeling adventurous, you might decide to order the chipotle mocha, made with a double shot of espresso, smoked chilli and dark chocolate.
The Glass Onion Society is not just a cafe, but an espresso bar, restaurant, gallery space and a live music venue, too. Since opening in 2011, the Long Jetty venue has become a favourite among local foodies, freelancers, creatives and families who are after high-quality food in a not-too serious setting that feels a bit like it could be your living room. The kitchen dishes up a large variety of dishes with lots of gluten-free and vegan options. Standouts include the jerk cauliflower and the beef brisket burger — the brisket has been slow cooked for 12 hours in the Onion’s secret spices and then pulled apart and tossed through a Kansas inspired BBQ sauce. If you’re vegan, order the eggplant version instead. Sydney-based roaster Espressology looks after the coffee, and the Glass Onion house blend features dark chocolate, caramel and ripe fruit flavours.
Avoca Beach on the Central Coast is filled with so many great cafes and eateries, but a beachside spot definitely worth a visit is Becker & Co. Opened by the former owner of Bird and Bear Boathouse in Elizabeth Bay, Dale Hunter, the pint-sized spot is serving up great cups of joe made on beans by Sydney’s SingleO. To eat, expect all the brunch classics — and lots of avocado. Choose from the likes of poached eggs with avocado, beetroot labneh on sourdough, Vegemite lime and toasted tamari seeds, toasties and fresh pastries. All of the ingredients used in the dishes are seasonal and organic.
Brothers Ben and Chris Gleeson launched Glee Coffee Roasters on the Central Coast in 2009, and now, 10 years later, it has grown into a four-cafe business and the flagship brand for specialty coffee in the region. Located in the historic Chapman Building, the Glee Coffee Wyong outpost serves its own house blend known as “The Goods”, along with single origins from Guatemala — with a taste profile of raspberry, pepper, fudge — and a Nicaragua filter roast described as having blackcurrant yoghurt, cherry, fudge and dark chocolate notes. With a breakfast menu including french toast, avocado delight and waffles, and a lunch menu of pulled pork burgers and nachos, there’s something for everyone to get stuck into at Glee.
Formerly known as the Toowoon Bay Pie Shop, Flour & Co is a family-run bakery and coffee house that knows what it takes to create quality baked goods. The business has been in the family for the last 30 years, so locals — and visitors familiar with Toowoon Bay — are well acquainted with this little spot. As well as having some of the area’s best pies, cakes, breads, toasties and raw treats (like its signature raw ‘Snickers’ slice), Flour & Co also serves up top-notch brews made on No Label Coffee. This sustainable, ethical and organic label imports beans from Tanna Island, Vanuatu, which make for a clean and smooth coffee with lots of chocolate and nut flavours.
Located in Hardys Bay, the Fat Goose is somewhat of a Central Coast institution for baked goods. Its breads, pastries and pies have been eaten by both locals and tourists since 2007. Grab a bacon and egg roll for $7.50 a coffee (it’s roasted by Fat Poppy Coffee) and head to the park or hang out in the leafy courtyard in front of a sit-down breakfast. All breads and pastries are made on the premises and turned into delicious dishes, adorably named after local landmarks and people, from the Half Tide Rocks — sautéed mushrooms, shallots, garlic and parsley on toast — to the Killcare Boaties, which is a dish of fennel rosti with premium smoked salmon and creamy scrambled eggs. It also does gluten-free loaves.
Down a side street, in a warehouse-style venue in East Gosford, is Oomph Cafe and Foodstore, which opened shop back in 2005. The cafe, bakery, pizza restaurant and vegetable market aims to serve only organic and locally sourced ingredients in support of the local community and businesses. The menu features dishes such as Jamón Rosti — made with grilled organic Nicola potatoes, jamón and poached free-range eggs topped with sweet eggplant kasaundi (an Indian chutney) — and the Trucker Pancakes, which are ricotta hotcakes loaded with maple-smoked bacon, maple syrup, caramelised banana, pecans and house-made vanilla bean gelato. The team brews Five Senses Coffee — served with a side of sparkling water — alongside Mörk hot chocolates, milkshakes and fresh juices.
Located on the main strip in Ettalong Beach, Lords of Pour is a cafe with “killer brews and awesome chews”. The cafe, helmed by Ben Coward, provides Coasties and visitors with coffee from all across Australia, including Melbourne and Newcastle, as well as beans from Norway. The house blend is by Sydney’s Single O and a roster of guest roasters make up the cafe’s single origin and filter offerings, which includes the likes of The New Paradigm, Square One, Floozy and Talor & Jørgen. The food menu stars with the usual suspects — eggs on toast ($12), smashed avo ($18) and granola ($14) — and progresses to more inventive eats, such as the smashed pumpkin ($18) served atop sourdough with charred cauliflower, pomegranate and goat’s cheese. The cafe also offers three takes on a B&E roll: one standard, one with maple bacon and pulled pork, and a vegan option pumpkin and mushrooms.