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Her Coffee: Barrio

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It’s Monday and you’re probably hanging out for fresh cup of coffee from your local. Well, coffee fiends, I introduce to you Canberra’s newest caffeinated dwelling – Barrio.

Situated on the ever-trendy Lonsdale Street, Barrio is in good stead for a bright future. Its shopfront sits underneath the ORI Apartment Building alongside the likes of some pretty hip Lonsdale Street traders like Elemental and The Hive. If that’s not a trendy enough location, then I don’t know what is.


The idea behind this particular coffee spot has been “gestating” for the past couple of years, as owner Sam Burns shares. The previous roaster from Two Before Ten brings along his two business partners, Dan Zivkovich and Duncan Turner, for the Barrio business venture. The three of them wanted to produce a space which focuses on ideas of simplicity, transparency and quality of coffee.

To reflect this sentiment the space is small and intimate, creating a more personal and educational experience for customers. The small space allows less of a barrier between customer and barista. The idea is to break down that barrier to make coffee more accessible and easier to understand.


“We want to break down and slow down [the kind of service style] so we are able to explain what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Sam says.

“We want to do justice to the product.”

The fit-out is minimal with an organic feel to it. The white tile and grey rendered walls are complemented by reclaimed timber benches and hand-made serving ware, making the space feel more like home than a cafe. The atmosphere is reminiscent of a standing room espresso bar, but you can still pull up a stool and settle in if you choose. The high ceilings also create a spacious feel and the illusion that it is much larger than it appears. It’s far from your boxy café, offering a calm and simple caffeinated affair.


Upon its opening, Barrio will pour just a few really tasty Columbian blends, sourced and roasted locally, with the intent of changing the coffee on a seasonal basis. Insider tip: try the Joran Benavidez blend as a short black for a juicy coffee with tasting notes of apples. Interestingly too, Barrio will offer its customers a dairy-free milk made from macadamias, cashews and almonds which Sam says will surprise your tastebuds.

“It’s made in-house and tastes super creamy and matches really well with our coffee,” he says.

If you love your breakfast then you’ll be pleased to know that Barrio does too with options including stroopwafels, sour cherry Danishes and thick cinnamon toast. And if you’re still feeling peckish after your midday coffee hit, you can expect cheese, pickles, cured meats, smoked fish and bread for you to munch on too – all locally sourced and each with their own story.


“We don’t want to serve or have anything on the menu that we haven’t chosen,” says Sam. “[We want it have] amazing quality and [have] a story that goes with it.”

Understanding where the produce comes from, sourcing it locally where possible, and sharing that with the customer is a big focus for Barrio.

This ethos extends further than just the food and drink too; the ceramic serving ware was made by local ceramicist Joey Burns of Sawpit Studios; the glassware by Annette Blair from the Canberra Glassworks; and the Barrio branding and graphic designs are by Canberra photographer and artist Andy Mullens. All local and all contributing to Barrio’s simple, transparent and quality-focused vision.


“Coffee is too much of an important product [to not take notice of]. It shouldn’t just be this thing that you buy and drink,” expresses Sam. “It’s amazing how it even ends up in a roaster’s hands – it’s an incredible journey.”

Dan adds, “We are delivering a product we believe in entirely.” And it’s because of an attitude such as this that Canberra’s specialty coffee scene is becoming more and more exciting. These guys are clearly passionate about what they do and they’re on a mission to deliver distinctive service and top-notch quality produce.

So be sure to get down to Lonsdale Street this week for a coffee.

the essentials

What: Barrio Collective Coffee
Where: ORI Building – 59/30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
When: 7am-2pm Sunday to Wednesday; and 7am-5pm Thursday to Saturday.
Contact: 0423 100 814 or barriocollective@gmail.com
Web: www.barriocc.com.

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One Response to Her Coffee: Barrio

jib213 says: 26 June, 2015 at 4:27 pm

This place doesn’t use soy milk and the nut milk referred to in the article was very watery and not nice. I threw my take-away coffee out after a few sips.

The staff also took the opportunity to patronise me about how processed soy milk is.

Made me wonder what is happening to Lonsdale Street when a soy latte (once the most pretentious of beverages) is passé. Getting a bit over places like this and The Cupping Room “educating” me about how I should have my coffee.

I have friends who are allergic to both dairy and nuts so would not be catered for here.

The fit out is nice though.

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