One of the coolest little places in Adelaide is Exchange Specialty Coffee, situated on Vardon Terrace in the East End, just next to the Belgian Beer Cafe. Its surroundings are perfect for the type of cafe it wants to be; just off Rundle Street, Vardon Terrace is a tiny laneway of paving and deciduous trees. Exchange has a wonderful, bright, glass frontage, and on cold, crisp Autumn days the chilly sunlight streams through the red-orange leaves, and you feel like you’re sipping your coffee in one of those beautiful European cities. Inside, the clean lines and decor hearken back to timeless Scandinavian minimalism, but lest you think that this means that Exchange has the personality of a flat-packed table and a handful of allen keys, think again. The place is comfortable, the staff friendly and more than willing to talk to you about their latest favourite filter coffee.
Speaking of filters, these are Exchange’s specialty, using the Aeropress method. Exchange gets its coffee from Market Lane in Melbourne, and the guys assiduously test their new beans. Beyond the beautiful coffees, there is always a selection of pastries (including, every now and then, cruffins — cinnamon sugar muffins made of croissant pastry), a delicious soup option in winter, and most notably their famous sandwiches (especially the most delicious Reuben.) The breakfast menu is epicurean, including as it does a delightful fig french toast with caramelised orange, strawberries, and espresso mascarpone. I can’t begin to say how much of a guilty pleasure this is.
Any visitor to Adelaide’s East End should make it their mission to visit Exchange. The nearby Rundle Street precinct has long been touted as Adelaide’s centre of cafe culture, but it is largely dominated by tired, sad, anonymous and generic places making tired, sad, anonymous and generic coffee. Just a few metres away, tucked up in its own Stockholm laneway, Exchange is a little oasis of sophistication and deliciousness, and it’s here to stay.