Have you tried Canberra’s Best Coffee? Mythbusting at Harvest

by Barrister Barista

Once upon a time, an Ethiopian goat herd munched on a mouthful of the wild coffee berries that were favoured by his goateed friends.  Some time later, as the story goes, a pilgrim known as Brother Baba Budan smuggled seven seeds of the same plant out of Yemen, and into Canberra.

Where did Baba Budan plant the seeds of coffee culture in Our National Capital? Some say that his first Harvest was in the prestigious 1970s office building that is Canberra House, 40 Marcus Clarke St, deep in the parking badlands between the Public University, and the Public Service. That’s right, at Harvest – not Harvest Café, or Harvest Espresso – Harvest.

Fairytales aside, Harvest (June 2010) has bespoke-fitted brothers in Kingston Grind (circa 2005), Group 7 (2009) and Tonic Espresso (2008).  But like many younger brothers, Harvest seems to think it’s the most in touch with street kulcha.  Predating Londsdale Street Roasters and the refit at Manuka’s ONA, Harvest serves the spectrum of sweetened long blacks to syphon coffee– hanging out with the newly employed and the never employed, sans judgment. It’s a café of the people, and The Hipster Factor is High.

Barrister Barista popped in on a weekday morning to take pics through the precocious window writing. Dark, reflective windows blaze ‘Have you tried Canberra’s BEST cup of coffee?’ Signage is cited by some as Numero Uno for Not Going Inside.  Once in, however, The Vibe kind of hits you – a wash of wood and workwear and wall and gosh-where-do-I-stand.  You stand, kids, within speaking distance of Hipster Waiter #1, who wo/mans the cash register on your left most mornings.  S/he’ll take your coffee order, for The Price of $3.20 regular, $3.70 large.

According to The Hype, regulars are treated like regulars, with their preferences pre-programmed and their seats pre-warmed. The Wait is, for table service, not lengthy – but seems longer when one is not-quite-sitting, not quite hearing one’s coffee name called.  The People, inside, have laptops and iProducts, and newspapers and other papers. Outside, they have bikes, but no lycra – an important distinction.  The Staff have downward eyes, cheerful in-jokes, and studied swirlpour. BB places The Order: a short black and a flat white (FW), sans judgment.

Today, as The Music spreads a serious gypsy vibe and then stops short, end of disc, The Long (FW) far outranks The Short (Black). The Short is a sad spectacle indeed. It’s very short, and very black – one side bleeds with overrun ash.  It’s acrid and unpleasant, on the nose, and on the tongue.  Harvest, this is Barrister Barista’s third tear-jerking espresso– please try a little tenderness. 

In larger cups, The Pour is pretty and practised– long-frond leaves surface, even on a nearby soy.  FW is low on foam, but it does the job – the job being sealing the coffee for no spills.  The Flave is fun, today – full cream milkiness pleasantly one-upped by the house blend’s bright malt.

The Latte Word:  Whether or not they’re dishing Canberra’s best coffee, with foot traffic and and a rep for rapport with regulars, nothing will slow their steam wands.  If you’re not an in-towner, try out their new Saturday sesh – noting The Sides don’t stray from bakery, including the ever-present banana bread, and the first lamingtons ever to be angled jauntily on cold stone. 

So,  are you one to celebrate Harvest?  Let The Canberran know what you think in the comments below.


40 Marcus Clarke St,  Canberra City

0433 358 024

Facebook only

Mon – Fri: 7:30 am – 4:00 pm

Now Open Saturdays 8:00am – 2:00pm