With the city in your rear-view mirror and a surfboard strapped to the roof, it’s pretty easy to slip into a devil-may-care mindset the second you get in the car. However, even though ocean-side breaks are meant to be all naps and no work, the hankering for a toe-tingling coffee won’t deplete even though you’ve left the city for a while. We’ve put together a jumble of cafes that deliver on quality espresso in breezy locations. Hello, holidays.[fold]

The Boathouse – Palm Beach
A torchbearer for relaxed, beachy style and substance on the north coast, The Boathouse at Palm Beach is full from the early hours with casual diners ordering garlicky mushrooms, haloumi and macadamia nuts on toast to go with their expertly pulled morning brew. Their frothy milk bottle sized shakes also garner attention.
(02) 9974 3868
Hours: Daily 7.30am–4pm

Little Blowhole Cafe – Kiama
The Little Blowhole cafe serves up coffee provided by Sydney’s cult roasters, Single Origin, and is all the more popular for it. Combine that with buttermilk pancakes and breakfast is served.
4 Tingira Crescent, Kiama
(02) 4232 4990
Hours: Mon, Wed to Fri 9am–4 pm
Sat & Sun 8am–4pm

Driftwood – Terrigal
Afternoon Devonshire tea is the hot offering at Driftwood in Terrigal, or pick up a bacon and egg roll, orange juice and an excellent coffee for only $10 after an early morning swim.
1/98 Terrigal Esplanade, Terrigal
(02) 4339 7617

Armchair Collective – Mona Vale
Little sister of The Boathouse at Palm Beach, at Armchair Collective you can browse for chic homewares while you wait for your latte. A seat at one of the large communal tables is a good spot to prop yourself at for an hour or two.
(02) 9999 2871
Hours: Daily 7am–4pm

Little Gunga – Milton
An art space where you can stop in for a coffee is always a good idea. Don’t request a large though, as there’s just one size on offer here. Little Gunga has worked out the “perfect milk to espresso ratio” and we think we’ll trust them on this one.
6/41 Wason Street, Milton
0416 037 345
Hours: Tues to Sat 7.30am–2pm

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16 Feet Espresso – Stanwell Park
Is the weather too steamy for steamed milk? Try 16 Feet Espresso’s iced numbers, like their vanilla iced coffee with a topping of crumbled brownie. It sounds a little Starbucks, but it’s a cool alternative in the peak of high summer.
91a Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Stanwell Park
(02) 4294 1425

Berry Sourdough Bakery & Café
A wonderfully perky café au lait served in a bowl may be the perfect thing for dunking one of Berry Sourdough Cafe’s famous croissants, Paris-style. This historic building has been around since 1895 and is an essential stop for those heading down the south coast.
23 Prince Alfred Street, Berry
(02) 4464 1617
Hours: Daily from 7am–6pm

Pilgrims – Milton
Another south coast favourite with holiday travellers, Pilgrims at Milton (not to mention its new branch at Huskisson Beach, Jervis Bay) combines reliably consistent espresso by Amanti with healthy and hearty vegetarian fare.
Shop 8, The Settlement, Princess Highway, Milton
(02) 4455 3421
Hours: Mon to Thurs 9am–3pm
Fri 9am–3pm, 6pm–9pm
Sat & Sun 9am–3pm

Poppy’s Courtyard Cafe – Merimbula
Take a seat in the leafy courtyard at Poppy’s and welcome the peace and quiet with a cup of excellent coffee.
15, The Plaza, Merimbula
(02) 6495 1110
Hours: Daily 8am–3pm