The question on almost everyone's lips on arriving in a new place: Where can I get a great cappuccino?
Perth being one of the coffee capitals of Australia alongside Melbourne, takes this question seriously.
With Cappuccino Day arriving in the US on 8 November, we decided to bring this important event to Australia. Welcome to Perth Cappuccino Day! It's not that we need an excuse to drink more of the steamy brew, but we're always up for celebration.
In Italian flavoured areas like Fremantle, the word 'cappuccino' is becoming synonymous with 'coffee' as one of the most popular versions of our morning brew. Some sources say it's the top choice for Aussies, while others claim it's in third place behind flat white and latte, but quickly gaining ground.
Either way, cappuccino is vying for top place in the cafes of Australia, and thanks to a strong Italian influence in WA, especially Fremantle, 'cappuccino capital' is a fair description for Perth and its port city.
What's All the Fuss About?
Rumour has it that around 50,000 cappuccinos are consumed every half hour during daylight hours across the country. Does this make you a statistic? Are you one of Perth's cappuccino addicts? And how do you take it: with or without foam, sprinkled with chocolate or cinnamon, hot or warm? Do you stir it or drink through the foam for a stylish moustache?
Coffee became popular in Australia when the French brought with them the concept of Parisian-style cafes back in the 19th century. It wasn't until the 1930s that the Italians introduced espresso.
Cappuccino is, of course, espresso topped with steamed milk. The earliest cappuccinos, however, were topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. In the 1950s, the introduction of espresso machines replaced cream with hot milk and steamed-milk foam, and Perth cafe culture arrived with Italian migrants.
Purists object to foamy capps, calling it 'latte art creep', basically an excuse for baristas to show off their decorative skills. Endless discussions go on about how to make and serve cappuccino correctly. While there are certain traditions rooted in Italian history, the barista is an artist, and as with all arts, everyone has their own take on it.
And so we find ourselves visiting a different coffee shop each day to find our ideal barista! Let us help you with recommendations for some of the best cafes in Perth and Fremantle.
Fremantle's Cappuccino Strip
Fremantle has its own 'Cappuccino Strip', which says it all! Famous for being the original hub of Italian cafe culture, this stretch of South Terrace has been home to a variety of cafes and restaurants over the years.
Bookended at one end by the longstanding and very popular Gino's, and at the other end by Fremantle Markets, the 'Cappuccino Strip' is a good place to begin your trawl of Fremantle coffee shops.
Located in the yard section of Fremantle Markets, the Black Cherries Espresso cafe, run by a passionate coffee maker, who sells his own photography alongside the beans. Grab a cappuccino to go, or better still, watch the market bustle from your seat at the bar.
Black Cherries serves superb fresh coffee, using Arabica beans roasted in Perth, and you can take home a few bags of various coffee beans, which they will grind to order if you prefer. Allow time to rummage around the markets for gifts, clothes, homewares, jewellery, novelties, and fresh produce.
Just off the Strip, in the quaint enclave off the west end section of High Street, are several of the small independent cafes that Fremantle is known for, such as Bread in Common, Hush, The Attic, Moore & Moore and Duck Duck Bruce - all worth a visit.
The Attic is a gorgeous two-storey space on Bannister Street with a modern rustic style, serving tasty fresh food that leaves you feeling both satisfied and healthy - as well as great coffee of course! Don't be caught out by their 3.00pm closing time. This cosy spot reopens at 6.00pm on Friday and Saturday evenings for dinner.
The popular Moore & Moore, well known for sharing a space with Moore's Contemporary Art Gallery, is tucked along the side of the historic Moore Building on Henry Street. Selling breakfast and snacks to go with your coffee, this cute Fremantle cafe serves up hearty meals later in the day too, sourcing local and organic produce. There are cosy indoor spots and a fresh little courtyard out the back.
It's location attracts an eclectic crowd, reminiscent of the 19th century coffee houses of Europe. Have a peek in the Art Gallery while you're there. This two-storey space prioritises emerging artists and photographers, so there's usually something fascinating to look at.
On High Street itself, Hush Specialty Coffee does a great job of serving up a range of consistently good coffees with brekkie or morning tea. The house blend includes Five Senses beans, which are sourced directly from farmers. This is another double-storey cafe in a cosy old building, with comfy areas upstairs that are difficult to leave.
South & North Fremantle Cafes
When you meander along South Fremantle's cafe hub, at the southern end of South Terrace, you can't miss Port City Roasters' huge outdoor area. This spot is heaving on weekends, and often in the week too on fine days.
Port City meticulously oversees the production of their coffee from farm to roasting to retailing, ensuring a top quality taste. They even tour overseas coffee plantations to learn from the experts and source beans ethically.
There's a lovely relaxed atmosphere in South Fremantle cafes, which include the Italian deli and coffee shop Calogero's next door to Port City, the wonderfully easygoing Ootong & Lincoln, and the consistently superb cafe / restaurant Little Lefroys.
Grab a cappuccino to go with one of their delicious cakes or desserts and chill out on sandy South Beach.
Across the river in North Fremantle, your cappuccino will be created to perfection by the dedicated baristas at The Black Truffle. This easy-to-miss store sells fabulous fresh food and gourmet artisan products to take home, inspired by the cuisine and cafe culture of Italy.
Stock up on olives, antipasti, cheese and cured meats when you drop in for your morning coffee. Even better, purchase one of their delicious, healthy picnic hampers and head to the beach or river. The Black Truffle is exactly halfway between, on Stirling Highway with parking outside.
Sip a Cappuccino on Perth Beaches
Along the Perth coastline are various beautiful spots to flop onto the sand with your keep cup or sink into a chair at a beach-side cafe.
Probably the most famous of Perth's cafe / beach combos is Cottesloe, which has some perfectly positioned venues along the shoreline. One of the best is Il Lido, just across the road from the sand on Marine Terrace. This Italian-influenced cafe has long tables for dining, bar stools for coffee and an alfresco area to soak up the sea breeze. If you stay for lunch, order the home-made pasta.
Zooming up the coast, City Beach has some spectacular cafe / restaurants that are perfect for a clear day. Drop into Odyssea or The Hamptons for an upmarket experience, or head to The Kiosk at Floreat Beach with the family and dog.
Traditionally a surfing mecca, Scarborough's recent beachfront redevelopment, complete with outdoor swimming pool, has enhanced the holiday atmosphere introduced by hotels and serviced apartments.
A little way inland on Brighton Road, away from the beach buzz, you'll find a great deli/minimart and bakery plus a little gem, The Hardware Store. Of course you won't be shopping for hardware during your time off, but this shop has transformed from a practical store into one of Perth's best cafes, keeping some little mementos of its former life in the decor. Coffee is sourced from Campos Coffee, and breakfast / brunch is on the menu too.
The surfing crowd will tell you that neighbouring Trigg Beach is as good as Scarborough, and here you'll find the casual beachfront coffee stop, Yelo. This is a casual cafe that you can walk straight into from the beach. Grab a takeaway capp and wrap, or kick back out the front with nothing but the ocean to look at.
Northbridge & Perth Cafe Culture
Inside the beautifully restored heritage State Buildings is Telegram Coffee, which sources beans from Melbourne’s Proud Mary Coffee and Perth's Loaded Craft Coffee Roasters. As the names hints, this highly rated cafe is within the old GPO building, where you'll also find Post, a charming spot popular with urban execs, and Petition, which has a casual welcoming vibe.
Ten minutes stroll along St George's Terrace is another top quality choice for your cappuccino in Perth CBD. Small Print Bakery & Roastery is within Print Hall, a group of restaurants, cafes and bars developed within a grand old heritage building that used to be The West Australian newspaper offices. Coffee beans are sourced from around the world to create the best coffee, accompanied by freshly baked pastries, baguettes and pies.
In the west end of the CBD is the King Street enclave, where designer label stores, street art and live music venues create a stylish urban vibe. You'll also find some of Perth's best cafes tucked along the narrow streets and laneways.
La Veen serves impressive coffee in a stylish industrial-chic, heritage-listed shop on King Street. Settle in for breakfast or lunch, made with select local produce, or wander the streets with a takeaway coffee in one of their trademark neon green lidded cups.
In one of the old laneways hidden between Murray Street, King Street and Wolf Lane is family owned and operated small bar and coffee shop Holmes & Co. This delightful place serves specialty Five Senses Coffee indoors or out in the courtyard - a truly charming cafe for a lazy morning tea with home-made cakes, or an early evening beer.
Across the railway in the Northbridge area are more great spots to investigate. One is a little place you have to visit at least once. At Chu Bakery you can munch on freshly baked doughnuts or croissants with your cappuccino, and take home a fresh loaf for lunch. Chu is in Highgate, right opposite the east side of beautiful Hyde Park.
Other popular spots are Lincolns 102, also in Highgate, Kafka Coffee Shop in Northbridge, and Mary Street Bakery, which has four outlets - Highgate, Allendale Square and QV1 in the CBD, and West Leederville.
More Cafes: in the Perth Hills, Swan Valley & Perth Neighbourhoods
To find yet more cafes in Perth and explore the surrounding suburbs, the following link has a list of cafes: Perth City Coffee Spots.
Outside the CBD, you'll find little treasures like Typika Artisan Roasters in Claremont, The Bodhi Tree Bookstore Cafe and another Yelo in Mt Hawthorn, Cafe Cafe in Subiaco and Harvest Espresso in Victoria Park.