Site of the Devonshire Arms Hotel
Site of the Devonshire Arms Hotel

Here in the Dodgy Perth office we have blood type Coffee+. So it’s no surprise we’re excited to hear about the impending launch of a café dedicated to Perth’s first ever bean roaster, Mr Henry Saw.

But in 1852, Henry only sold the roasted beans. He didn’t actually make any coffee. Which for the lazy types in our office is no use at all.

So, the question we asked ourselves was: where was the first decent coffee shop in Perth?

Surprisingly, there wasn’t one until October 1883, when Mrs Woods became manager of the ‘Burnett Coffee Rooms’ in the former Devonshire Arms Hotel. This was on the corner of Hay and Barrack, where the Connor-Quinlan building now stands, currently best known as the home of pen retailer, T. Sharp.

It was no coincidence that a former pub was converted to a coffee palace. This was one of the heights of the temperance movement, and anything that could stop working men drinking was considered a good thing.

Matthew Burnett was a controversial temperance enthusiast. His critics said he was a con man, who got other people to build coffee shops for him in the name of religion, without him having to pay a cent. His followers thought him the man to save Australia from the demon drink.

In either case, Mattie has the honour of opening the first decent coffee shop in Perth.

Mmmm… coffee.