Coffee at Cream (of the crop?) in Civic

by Barrister Barista

If Canberra has a cafe strip, it’s in Civic between Garema Arcade and Bunda St.  On all days of the week, you can get poached eggs and a flat white al fresco at the family-and-friends-friendly venue of your choice.  The much google-reviewed Cream Cafe Bar is ostensibly the jewel in the crown, if only because it’s the easiest to find.  With an expansive corner frontage, serious decor and serious pricing, Cream screams ‘welcome to Canberra, we should catch up for coffee’.

Considering it’s been there since the Canberra centre relaunch a few years back, it was sure time for The Canberran to catch up with Cream’s coffee.  We popped in early on a Sunday morning, laptop under arm.  We get The Greeting immediately, including advice on ideal seating for powerpoint / wi-fi use.  That’s right kids, wi-fi is free and available at Cream, and the staff know the passcode.  We muscle in at breakfast time, and get the impression that The Waitress is glad to park us on the breakfast bar, freeing up actual tables for actual customers.  We look out over the slightly-hungover-looking looking Genge St, home of Tongue and Groove, Taze Mediterranean, and not much else.

Cream’s web presence promises ‘Fine food astonishing interior and warm service’. They’re ‘raising local standards to meet innovations found in the northern Hemisphere, and in Sydney and Melbourne’. Most of this is outside of the scope of our inquiry, but we note that these are Big Calls. Clearly the Creamers have spent some serious dough on The Interior, and it contributes in large part to The Vibe. The window benches and the coffee island are mermaid-coloured tiles . The wooden floorboards zigzag, and the cream leather is crocodile skin. The windows are big, there’s plenty of light, a the roof features sixties ballroom detail x 2. The Hipster Factor is low (low, low) – while the elements are unique, they combine to form the cafe equivalent of Barbie’s dream home, glitzy and conventional.

The safari-suit wearing staff at Cream ask all the right questions.  We’re hit with ‘Would you like a coffee to start?’  ‘Shall I leave you with the menu?’ ‘What have you decided on for breakfast?’ and ‘Can I get you another  coffee?’  We’re feeling playful so we say yes to everything, resulting in a short black, raisin toast and a cappuccino in quick succession.  We’re happy with the promptness, even if we’re not happy with The Pricing – a special Sunday menu that uses Excel (surely) to bump every price up by 10%, to the cent.  For example, 55c for soy milk on Sundays, FTW.  It seems to us that $4.20 for a basic coffee is Big Bucks.

What do we get for our money? The Short is bland, bitter, and crema-lite.  The Soy cappucino is creamy, just-warm, well-chocked and delicious.  The Long (Black) tastes like Americano, diner-style and perfect for dunking toast in.  On other visits, The Milk Coffee has oscillated wildly depending on which earring-ed young hunk is at the coffee machine – the pour has been frigid and foamy, and it has been silky smooth.  On average, Cream make the perfect accompaniment coffee – never outstanding, but never offensive.

The Latte Word: remember ‘things white people like’? The definitive online guide to WASP culture says ‘the best place for white people to drink coffee is at a locally-owned coffee shop that offers many types of drinks and free Wi-Fi’.  It seem to us that Cream is that place for the WASPs of Canberra (ourselves included).  Where do you go for coffee and wi-fi in Canberra?  Discuss.

Cream Cafe Bar

Canberra Center/Bunda St (Shop FG10)

Canberra ACT 2600

(02) 6162 1448

Monday to Friday 7.30 – late

Saturday – 8am – late

Sunday 9am – 4pm