When you’re working from home in a new city, the best way to get out and about is by visiting the local coffee shops and cafes. I gave myself a mission to find the best chai latte in Perth, and along the way discovered some interesting observations that I think everyone should know about the cafes in Perth!
Since moving to Perth I’ve been enjoying comparing life in the Western Australia capital to that of my home city in the UK. Despite the multiple differences between Perth and London, there is one aspect that has particularly stuck out to me, and that’s the cafe culture in Perth.
It’s a known fact that the Aussies love their brew, so I expected the cafes in Perth to be top notch. But, as a non-coffee drinker (please don’t extradite me), do they meet my needs? Are the cafes in Perth up to scratch and exceeding expectations? Here’s what I’ve learned so far on my journey of becoming a proper Perthie.
1. Cafes close early in Perth.
Something that I noticed almost immediately about cafes in Perth is how early they close. While cafes are open for the commuter rush in the city from around 7am, they’ll often be closed by 3pm, even in the CBD!
Compared to my life in London, this is a pretty stark change. In my home city, cafes will regularly open even earlier around 6am but not close until well into the afternoon and evening.
Granted, the population difference and demand for caffeinated beverages and snacks will play a big role in opening hours, but it still surprises me none the less. Does nobody eat or drink in a cafe past a certain time here?! Either way, it’s been an adjustment to remind myself to head out for a daily chai latte right after lunch or else I’ll return empty-handed.
2. There are no Starbucks cafes in WA.
When you go looking for a cafe in Perth, you’ll find heaps of independent and local chains around. What you won’t find, is a single Starbucks. If you’re all about supporting local businesses, this will be great news! Honestly, it took me a while to notice that big mermaid logo was missing from the streets. And I don’t miss it at all!
This article explains why Perth has no Starbucks, and it makes perfect sense. Why would a chain even bother trying to enter a region where they simply won’t be profitable? Well done to both Perth residents for your resilience to the mega-corporations, and to Starbucks for not trying to force it.
While there isn’t a big chain like Starbucks, there are lots of smaller chains run by the same owners. This means that wherever you are in the CBD you probably won’t be far from one of your favourite brewhouses! Dome is the biggest cafe chain in Perth, with most of their shops in WA and only a few elsewhere in the country. Dome is a great chain providing exactly what you need from a cafe; good drinks, reliable food, and a cosy atmosphere. Although, if you ask me you’re much better off visiting one of the more locally-owned cafes as they have buckets more charm and character.
3. Cafes can be found where you’d least expect.
It amazes me how coffee shop owners will utilise the small spaces in the city to their advantage. Only got a kiosk to sell a full range of coffees? No problem!
You can walk along the street and find cafes nestled between shops, down arcades and alleys, or pretty much anywhere. What’s even better is that often these small takeaway spots are close enough to a park or green space you won’t be left drinking on the go. You can actually find somewhere comfy in a sunny spot to enjoy your drink in peace.
4. There’s often good outdoor seating.
Day-to-night establishments that could be classed as a “pub” (this Brit won’t accept it’s a pub until there’s a fireplace, a grubby carpet, and at least one wall of booths) have ample seating both indoors and outdoors.
This probably isn’t such a novelty for most, but when you come from the UK capital it’s almost unheard of to have an actual seat when enjoying a drink.
Since being in Perth, gone are the London days loitering in a dirty alley by some bins drinking a pint in the cold. No more will I constantly be edging in and out of the road because the curb is so jam-packed with patrons sipping their beers. Understandably, the demand for outdoor seating in London pubs is minimal compared to Perth due to the weather. But somehow that doesn’t stop a Londoner’s insistence of shivering amongst the gutters, does it?
It is a real joy to be drinking a pint outdoors in comfort, let alone seated, and I will enjoy it as a novelty for a long time.
5. Coffee shops in Perth set the mood.
In general, the cafes in Perth have a local, independent vibe. Coffee shops in the WA capital seem to focus on their USPs (unique selling points) and so will often have quirks that you wouldn’t find in a bog-standard copy and paste chain. A unique characteristic could be a special type of coffee bean used, food and drink deal, or other sales promotion. Or, most commonly, the general vibe the cafe is eluding is its major attraction.
I’ve visited cafes with a retro gaming theme for the nostalgic coffee-drinkers, ones with a monochromatic Scandi-chic vibe, cafes designed with cosy furnishings for you to curl up with a good book, edgy up-cycled sofas and wooden palettes in an alley for a day-to-night vibe, and so many more. It’s a pleasure to visit a coffee shop because it suits your mood and your interests, not just because it serves great quality products.
It seems people in the UK want familiarity from their coffee shops no matter where they are. They want to get in, get their items, maybe plug into the WiFi, and go. Perth coffee-lovers go because they resonate with that particular place and appreciate what they offer over competitors (of which there are many!).
6. Sometimes you have to guess what’s on the menu.
The variety of coffee shops in Perth means you don’t always know what they offer before you arrive (the internet won’t help either… see point 8!). You can’t guarantee that a new place will have your usual order, and they might specialise in something completely different to your regular cup o’ Joe.
Some cafes in Perth don’t even have a menu, which makes it even harder to know what to order! However, you can assume they’ll have all the familiar favourites even if they don’t explicitly say it. You literally couldn’t be called a coffee shop in Perth unless you offered a flat white, surely?!
As a non-coffee drinker (I know, outrageous), this was a bit harder to tackle. I love a chai latte, but so often it wasn’t listed on the menu board! I’d tentatively ask if they could do a chai latte, and I’ve not once been told no. Moral of the story: if it’s a good coffee shop, they can do your order.
7. You can order a coffee by text.
Another surprise with Perth cafes compared to other locations I noticed is the disparity in their use of technology.
Many cafes I’ve come across are highly catered towards office workers (see above: closing times). This also means they want to offer a quick an easy on-the-go click and collect option too… In the form of texting a number your order to pick up later! I honestly have NEVER come across this before. Is it genius or rather antiquated? I mean, sure it gets the job done but why wouldn’t you use a more advanced form of technology?! What about an online ordering system so you can collect customer emails and send offers? No? Maybe the marketer in me is coming out on this one.
This leads me to my next point. The difference that has baffled me more than any other comparison:
8. Hardly any cafes have a website in Perth.
It’s 2019 people. What’s up with that?! Not only is this incredibly frustrating for a web-reliant millennial when I want to scope out if a place looks decent and IF they serve my beloved chai latte, but it’s SO easy to set up a website these days, for free!
Having understood a little more about Perth’s economy, I’m aware that a lot of businesses have been shutting down as quickly as they pop up due to the low demand from customers. I totally get that, and appreciate a website isn’t the priority when you’re trying to maintain your business income. However, I reckon a quick website (with the menu on it, ahem) would do wonders to establish you and get you out there to the people.
What confuses me even more is how they’ll have a Facebook and Instagram page up and running, which surely takes as much if not more effort! People of Perth, please explain yourselves and your coffee shops.
9. There’s not always WiFi in Perth cafes.
Maybe I’m not looking hard enough. Maybe I’m not being bold enough to ask. But I swear I hardly see cafes advertising free WiFi in Perth!
It’s not an essential for city living, but it would help this lowly remote worker enjoy a change of scene once in a while.
Offering WiFi in most cafes around the world seems as standard as having a mug for your tea. Maybe I’ve not yet figured out the cafe culture of Perth. It could be that I’m used to coffee shops that are catering to a lifestyle which blurs work and pleasure. Business lunches and coffee study sessions. Or possibly I just haven’t found those cafes in Perth yet! I’ll keep looking…
10. You can bet you’ll get a great brew.
The quality of products served in Perth cafes are excellent. Like I say, I can’t speak for the coffee as I don’t drink it. BUT, I can say that I have had many delicious, creamy, and flavoursome chai lattes during my time here.
Better still, is the food options (although limited) are always great too. They’re so often freshly made onsite, use local ingredients, and just generally have love and care put into making them.
Not only are the consumable items fab, you’ll often get served by some really lovely folk. I’ve had coffee shop owners explain to me their exact process to making THE best chai latte (according to them). I’ve had people ask where I’m from and strike up conversation about all sorts of things. It makes an experience as a customer even better when you their full attention, you’re not just a faceless cash-machine.
This aspect means a lot to me as someone who’s new in town and working from home. It’s nice to have casual, friendly interactions occasionally! Maybe it’s the friendly Aussie way. Or maybe coffee shops in Perth know that customer service as well as quality products is needed to be the best. Either way, it is very much appreciated!
I hope that this list of 10 things to know about cafes in Perth will give you an insight into what to expect when you visit! I know that there were a few surprises when I was scoping out my new hot beverage haunts.
What surprises you about cafes in Perth? Is there anything you’d expect from your favourite coffee shop?
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