Coffee behind closed doors —Aussies at Parliament House

by Barrister Barista

Aussie's - APH Foyer
Barrister Barista is usually a legal eagle, but this week, the coffee case was settled out of court, and in-house:  Parliament House.  The word on the tweets was that Aussies Cafe was The Place to caffeinate in the Parliamentary Triangle, and had been for quite some time.

Aussies ‘is where the real action in Parliament House takes place’, where ‘pollies deal, lobbyists pitch, journos gossip, and everyone meets’ (apparently).   Who is ‘everyone’?  Where is ‘everyone’?  And is ‘everyone’ enjoying their coffee?  We had to know.
Aussies.  Australians?  No.  Anglo abbrev. for Ozvaldo, former driver to Bob Hawke, first cafe operator in the House.  The new Aussies-in-charge are mostly known by the name of as ‘Dom’ (there’s at least one).  They’re selling coffee, more coffee, homemade pasta, pizza, sandwiches, fruit et cetera, as well as ‘all the essentials of political life’, tissues, red tape, ear wax, pink batts, oil, wheat…

Who are Aussies (no apostrophe) selling to?  Aye, there’s the rub.  The place is staffer central, public servant palooza.  In sitting weeks, it’s ‘riddled full of’ pollies, as the Prime Minister might say.  The problem for the elsewhere-working Australian is that they can’t break through the glass, er, doors… This cafe is Parl-pass only, kids, meaning the magpies in this Power Index puffery are unlikely to ‘prefer to be seen [indoors] at Aussies’).

Those with good reason to pass Senate-side security will walk straight into Aussies, a knot of wooden tables on polished floorboards with window frontage.  The lighting isn’t as good as it should be and the plants aren’t as luscious, and the place has no corners to speak of.  It’s an alluvical fan of diners from a newsagent-looking vendor – on the left, a queue for coffee, to the right, a queue for food.  On this lunchtime, Aussies were busy, in an orderly way.  The Vibe, above all, was’working lunch’, not ‘salacious gossip’.  Needless to say, The Hipster Factor was low (and the average age high: 45).

Aussie's Counter

The Service, renowned for its friendliness, was fair – we won’t judge newbie on the till who took oh-dear-God-so-long to process two coffees that they were made and waiting just as moneys changed hands.  Oh yeah, The Speed of coffee making was super excellent, which we’re guessing is a big thing for scuttling Senators when that annoying bell rings end of recess.  The things that annoyed us were

1) being told to order food and coffee at separate tills

2) getting coffees 10 minutes before food and

3) having to bob up and down and fetch for ourselves, including sugar and teaspoons.

Call us snobby (call us The Canberran) but to us, these are the marks of a shop, a cart, and not a café.

Aussie's Cap

So, is the average joe missing out on above average cups of joe?  We may have brushed past Bob Carr and Christine Milne on our way in, we may have feared for our toes queueing behind Michaelia Cash heels, but we can honestly report that the coffee was Good, Fair, Fine, Nice, Drinkable, Worth It, Did the Trick, and the rest. The Short Black was above expectations (much crema, well presented, although dominant flavour was metal), The Long (Cappucino) was bang-on average, not above, not below (lightly dusted, dry foam, mid strength) and The Soy was uber sweet and not for everyone, all of garden variety Vittoria, that old chestnut.  The Prices were reasonable ($3.40 for small have-heres, $3.70 for soy takeaway).  The Sides were many, varied, healthy and delicious, FWIW.

Aussie's Short Black Plus

The latte word:  Aussies: best coffee in Canberra? When it comes down to it, the answer to that question, Mr Speaker, is beyond the purview of this blogpost, and should really be referred to Committee for consideration…  We would suggest that the answer is unlikely to be a strong affirmative, but will not emphatically be in the negative.

Moving forward.  Are you one of the insiders?  This inquiry requires witnesses.  Is Aussies coffee fair dinkum, or just a lot of hot [milk]?

Aussies Cafe

Capital Hill
Parliament House
Canberra  ACT  2600

02 6277 5047

Open Mon-Fri 8am-8pm (sitting weeks)
Parliament not sitting – regular business hours?

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