Ona Coffee has been operating in Canberra since 2008, where it runs several unmatched cafes and roasts beans for more than 100 others across Australia. In 2018 it expanded to Sydney and introduced the concept of a “freezer menu” – after roasting, certain batches of rare, exceptional and award winning beans are vacuum-packed into individual serves and frozen at -19 degrees celcius. Stored this way, they keep for years, perhaps even decades.
A similar menu is available in Brunswick, with upwards of 20 coffees available at any time. Cup prices range from $5 for standard blends to $25.50 for the best stuff, with most under $10.
White-coffee drinkers should start with Raspberry Candy, the blend that won Ona’s founder, Saša Šestić the 2015 World Barista Championships. As the name suggests, it is reminiscent of fresh red berries, with a touch of confectionery. There are three other espresso blends to choose from, plus single origins from numerous countries. It’s also worth trying the càscara, a tea made from coffee cherries (rather than the beans inside) that presents fruity, floral flavours such as apple, cranberry, cherry, rosehip, bergamot, elderflower and hibiscus.
For the sake of quality and consistency, everything is still roasted at Ona’s temperature- and humidity-controlled facility in Canberra.
Coffee is only one part of Ona’s dominance in the capital. Food is another, and the company has brought the same one-two combo to Brunswick. Head chef Jerome Felix co-founded The Cupping Room and Highroad, two of Ona’s other cafes. Hilariously, his food menu here is half the size of its coffee counterpart, with just eight mains and a handful of sides. There’s fruity chia pudding, the requisite avo toast, salmon gravlax with confit beetroot and horseradish cream, and bacon, sausage and eggs in a brioche-like pain au lait bun.
For all the pageantry surrounding the coffee, this pared-back menu (which includes three options for kids) and the matching, very understated Breathe Architecture fit-out make Ona approachable for anyone, regardless of what they think about coffee.