Whether your poison is a latte, an extra-strong-long-macchiato-with-soy or a non-caffeinated hot chocolate, going out for ‘coffee’ is about far more than the drink. This is even more so once you have kids in tow. It’s a chance to be out in the world (hopefully with two matching shoes), focus on your needs and enjoy the luxury of being waited on.
In the post-child world, I have often found that a happy kid equals a happy adult. What makes a kid happy varies depending on their age. When my first child was born, I would have drunk instant coffee and eaten 3-day-old leftovers if the cafe chair were comfortable enough to allow me to breastfeed her lunch at the same time as eating mine.
As my little one grew, we both became fussier. Toddlers are possibly the worst group to take out for coffee. The best remedy was finding a place with a decent high-chair or toddler-friendly play-space. The Footbridge in Brunswick Heads and The Sun Bistro in Byron tick these boxes.
I’ve found that most things get easier as my kids get older. When screen-time is on their menu, they can be relied on to not drop my phone into their drink. At other times, pen and paper is enough. I’ve yet to find somewhere in this area that uses butcher paper as a tablecloth, the novelty value of which can inspire great works of art and epic games of noughts and crosses.
Outside play areas are gold for active kids or longer visits. The Farm is a great new addition for kids who can be in sight but out of arms reach. The Sun Bistro’s rolling grass slopes inspire both imaginative and active play.
The degree of difficulty increases if you’re out for food as well as coffee. Places that will adapt an adult menu for a foodie-inclined kid are great (like the surfboard-lined Poinciana in Mullumbimby, complete with sandpit). Otherwise, somewhere that offers kid standards for reasonable prices, or adds a bit of flair (such as Treehouse on Belongil’s ‘pizza with ears’) is appreciated.
Occasionally, it’s the food itself that is the selling point. My two kids are well entertained by a sushi train.
Places with some ‘wriggle room’ are great – whether the space is used for fitting a high-chair or stroller next to the table, for swapping a baby from one adult lap to another or allowing a toddler to wriggle around. My kids and their cousins have always loved a booth-style seat, like those at Earth’n’Sea pizza.
Sometimes it’s worth choosing a bigger outing with the coffee in mind! Crystal Castle and Macadamia Castle both have playgrounds in view of their cafes. Another spot worth checking out is Circus Arts Play Centre, offering a coffee for you and a play for them.
What makes the best place for a coffee with kids is different for everyone. For you it might be because the staff make you feel good, because it is the perfect distance from home or because you can grab a takeaway and head to the park.
Or it might be because the brew is so good your kids will discover that, just sometimes, a happy adult equals a happy kid.