In Short: Barrio Collective Coffee has to be one of Canberra’s premier cafes. Coffees are outstanding, and their menu really delivers unique flavour combinations that delight. Service is super friendly and they are always up for a chat. My tip, is to get in there quick and try the Snowy Trout.
Barrio Collective Coffee epitomises the transition that has taken place in Canberra when it comes to coffee. It’s a grown up coffee city now, and this little hole-in-the-wall at the base of the Ori Building does outstanding coffee with an eclectic menu that changes with the season. I absolutely loved the space. Though, due to it’s intimacy, it can be a challenge to nab one of those prized window seats that gives the diner a view of the goings-on of trendy Lonsdale Street. It has a very organic feel to it, with a minimalist layout and earthy tones. In one corner, a lady types away through an email, and on the central communal table, a dude digests a tome while sipping brew. It’s that sort of cafe – relaxed – and as a customer, you never feel rushed to quickly consume your meal.
I made two visits to Barrio Coffee Collective, and on my first visit I was intrigued by the P&P Porridge. The P&P denotes parsnip and pear. It’s a new combination to me, but I was quickly won over with my first spoon. I loved the ginger-like warmth that lingers at the back of my mouth, and then the pear flavour comes in over the top. The porridge itself had a smooth texture, contrasted with crunchy textures of hazelnut. Finally, the infusion of vanilla and chamomile syrup provided that sweet ending. For a day where the wind chill was below zero, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate dish to warm me through.
Despite a freezing Canberra day, I was determined to try the Espresso, Tonic, and Lime. Like the P&P Porridge, this coffee really appeals to the curious and rewards the diner who takes a punt. I enjoyed the strength of the espresso, which reminds you that this is indeed a coffee. A mouthful of berry flavours is tamed a touch by the refreshing flavour of the fresh lime. There’s a hint of brown sugar sweetness, which seals the deal as a top cup. Unique, refreshing, and rewarding cup of coffee.
On day 2, that prized window seat was taken and I joined a few hardy locals outside for breakfast. Again, the temperature hovered not far above zero, but luckily the sun was out. As Spring rolls around and into the Summer months, this has to be the best spot. There are a couple of tables for bigger groups and two spots for those who prefer to watch what’s happening inside. I had spied Snowy Trout the previous day and had no hesitation in ordering it up on this visit. Like my experience the previous day, Barrio Collective Coffee continue to scale the delicious heights. The champion was the trout. Pink and smoked to perfection, it just crumbled apart. I glided the morsels through relish and loved each forkful. The relish was cabbage-based, with origins from the deep south of the US, and is loosely based on the Chowchow recipe. It had curry powder in it, and as a relish it was just outstanding. To give the dish extra depth was a rosti-styled potato with that yummy crispy crust and soft centre. A fried egg and pickles round out this spectacular menu item. While it’s a winter dish, if you do come here and notice it’s not on the menu, beg the team to bring it back!
To warm me through, I finished at Barrio Collective Coffee with a Flat White. It was presented in an adorable ceramic cup that really embodied the vibe of the cafe. The coffee itself had a beautiful sheen with a chestnut complexion, begging to be sipped. I enjoyed the robust toasty flavours of the coffee. Silky smooth textures, expert milk work, just the perfect temperature to warm me through, and a delightful nutty finish.
Barrio Collective Coffee absolutely delivers a two handed dunk, with superb coffee and a menu that takes you on a wild, flavourful ride. It has to be one of my favourite Canberran cafe experiences, and I will continue to return as the seasons change to see what new exciting dishes appear on their menu.