While Darwin isn’t as well known for its coffee as some major cities, Laneway Specialty Coffee Owner Lisa Heames says there is a growing coffee scene. However, it was not always that way.
“When we opened Laneway there wasn’t a lot of cafés around Darwin, just a few franchises. People would travel interstate to Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, have great coffee, then think ‘why can’t we have this at home?’” Lisa says.
“The community was hanging out for specialty coffee, so we were embraced from the start. The coffee culture has grown since then, but we’ve kept a solid group of regulars who we still see every day.”
Lisa opened Laneway – which turned five in July – with friends Adam and Danielle Mann, and says it’s important to give back to the local community by participating in initiatives like Red Nose Day and CaféSmart. This community outlook extends to its employees.
“Staff are a high priority for us and we have an amazing team of chefs, servers, and baristas,” Lisa says. “We firmly believe in looking after the team to look after the customer, and some of our staff have been with us since we started.”
Also sticking with Laneway since the beginning is roaster Campos Coffee, whose Superior Blend is served at the café as its house blend.
“We were in talks with Campos while still developing the café, and we’ve enjoyed an amazing relationship with the team,” Lisa says. “They’ve provided fantastic service, training, equipment, and amazing coffee. I’m really happy to have them in our corner. We’ve continued to work with them at our second café, Besser Kitchen & Brew Bar.”
Campos-roasted single origins are also used for espresso, filter, and cold drip. Lisa says the latter becomes particularly popular in the wet season.
“Darwin gets a lot warmer than down south and people like a nice cold refreshing coffee,” she says.
Alongside the coffee, Laneway serves a menu of Australian favourites plus some special dishes including a gluten-free buckwheat hotcake, vanilla pannacotta and cinnamon syrup, with fresh berries; an Indo brekkie bowl with brown rice, heirloom mushrooms, chilli and fried egg; and beef brisket and bacon burger with American cheddar, bourbon barbecue sauce and fat pickles.
“We make all of our pastries, cakes, and sauces from scratch, as well as handcrafted soda for cold drinks as well,” Lisa says. “We put a lot of love into our food and the café, and customers really feel that.”
While the coffee and food has attracted its fair share of customers, Lisa says so has the venue’s industrial fit-out which contrasts with Laneway’s surrounding shopping village.
“We’ve installed a brick wall along the back of the café and complement it with plenty of greenery. Because we’ve gone for that industrial look, our benchtops are recycled timber we sourced from a local bowling alley which was replacing its floors,” she says. “That mix of new and recycled materials creates a nice atmosphere, and people can feel really comfortable here.”
This has allowed Laneway to build strong relationships with a diverse array of regulars.
“We have a broad range of people drop by, from business people on their way to work, to mums and babies or more mature customers throughout the day,” Lisa says. “It’s been really important to build relationships with our community. Over the years, we’ve watched our customers start families and have children. Now we get to know their kids as they grow up. It’s a special feeling and really makes it feel worthwhile.”
Laneway Specialty Coffee
4/1 Vickers Street, Parap, Northern Territory, 0820
Open Monday to Saturday 7am to 4pm, Sunday 8am to 2:30pm
(08) 8941 4511