Australia has developed its own unique coffee culture, as one of the world’s largest coffee consumers. Cafes in Sydney have such enthusiastic coffee houses, roasters and educated devotees that large coffee chains do not stand a chance over the skilled and passionate independent coffee shops. With our exhaustive guide, take a coffee journey through the capital of New South Wales.
The Grounds of Alexandria
The location acts as a roastery, bakery and kitchen garden, even though coffee is at the heart of The Grounds of Alexandria. Housed in a 19th-century old pie house, it has two separate coffee areas, one for takeaway and one for in-house consumption, while there are a BBQ room, a florist and a playground for children in the outdoor area. The Grounds of Alexandria continues to draw many visitors eager to make the trip by car or bus only to be a part of the buzz, even if it is set apart from most city activities.
Gumption is a café newly launched and one of the best Cafes in Sydney by the makers of Marrickville’s Coffee Alchemy. Priding themselves on 11 years of roasting experience, the owners have now brought their passion to the Victorian Strand Arcade at the heart of Sydney’s CBD. To ensure that the highest quality brew is available per season, their coffee beans are carefully sourced from producers, which is something that wholesalers will not guarantee. They are so serious about coffee that that’s the only thing on the menu and that must be more than enough, judging by the roaring reviews and the flow of people stopping for a ristretto.
Le Monde has earned its reputation as one of the best coffee stops in town for many years as part of the trendy Surry Hills. Just a stone’s throw away from bustling Crown Street, this award-winning café joined forces in 2008 to strengthen its coffee culture with 5 Senses Coffee, which roasts Le Monde’s exclusive blend of coffee. The cosy café is at the forefront of experimenting with brewing techniques and uses some of the best coffee machines on the market. This one of the most amazing Cafes in Sydney offers a range of coffees from various parts of the world, aside from a well-priced food menu.
Pablo & Rusty’s
With five locations scattered across the area, Pablo & Rusty’s is a long-standing participant in Sydney’s coffee movement. Since the launch of the first suburban site in 2006, the business has come a long way. Its popularity stems from an unwavering devotion to specialty coffee and from providing seasonal, traceable and ethical items to its diners. The beans of Pablo & Rusty are roasted in smaller quantities, enabling their roasting schedule to react to the demands of their clients while still ensuring that each bean is ready to optimize flavor.
Paramount Coffee Project
Sweeping stone surfaces, stovetops, stainless wooden sinks and immaculate coffee appliances are highlights of the exquisitely decorated Paramount Coffee Project. Paramount Coffee Project, a favorite of the Surrey Hills hippie crowd, provides a unique take on coffee; they buy the latest lots of raw coffee, send them out to guest roasters, and then serve the results. Thanks to the seasonality and variability of how coffee is treated from farm to cup, clients can expect an ever-changing coffee offering. The café is populated by locals all day long, which makes it a perfect spot to take in the atmosphere of one of the trendiest areas of Sydney.
Reuben Hills is as cool inside as out, perched up in trendy Surry Hills: decorated with clashing fluorescent tube lights, bare brick walls and reconstructed wooden tables, the uber cool coffee haunt is more comfortable than it sounds on paper. Owners Nathan Borg and Russell Beard have traveled extensively through South and Central America, visiting farmers and establishing direct trade arrangements for their supplies of coffee. Upstairs, their signature blend of coffee beans, which are now used and enjoyed throughout the capital, churns out a 30kg Probat roaster. Every Friday morning, a free coffee tasting is available at this one of the best Cafes in Sydney for anyone who wants to sample their latest creations of blends.
Sensory Lab is a new addition to Bondi’s coffee scene by the St Ali folks. The menu serves few sweet and sour bites, but relies mostly on coffee, including brews from Matt Perger, a two-time world champion barista. The team behind Sensory Lab reveals their contribution to coffee making in all its ways, including roasting, serving coffee and creatively packaging their on-site items. With exposed pipes and folded felts on the wall, the café features a minimalist design and an industrial feel to it. It is located just five minutes from Bondi Beach, but far enough to avoid the hordes of tourists and surfers who populate the famous beach.
The Wedge, housed in the quirky and upbeat Glebe, came onto the scene with a boom in 2011 and has since kept its customers hooked. The small café, founded by Toby Wilson, who previously worked at Le Monde in Surrey Hills, focuses on expressing its love for carefully selected beans that are lightly roasted to retain the beans’ essential, less-bitter flavor. For both breakfast and lunch, The Wedge also offers a small but delicious, seasonal meal.
Swallow Coffee Traders
The comfortable Swallow Coffee Traders is based in Rockdale, proof that a nice cup of espresso can be found anywhere in Sydney. This one of the most exceptional Cafes in Sydney has drawn a solid community of fans since its launch in 2010, coming by on their way to work or for lunch. The coffee culture of the Swallow Coffee Trader goes beyond mere social experience; it is more like a coffee experimentation laboratory. Their beans in Surry Hills are from the long-standing roaster/café Single Origin. The owners study, research and test coffee as a passion, which goes beyond the mere running of their popular coffee shop. Peter and his team recently expanded next door to open a local deli stocking local foods from farms.
The Coffee History of Australia
Espresso coffee grew rapidly in popularity during the 1960s, and soon after the Australians were captivated not only by the aroma, but also by the history and background of the drink. Coffee had a certain glamor in a rapidly globalizing world, bringing the romance of exotic countries such as Brazil, Guatemala and Ethiopia with it. Coffee culture, if not café culture, was established in Australia at the beginning of the 1970s. Joaquin Hernandez, a Spanish caffeine enthusiast, decided to take advantage of this growing trend and share at the same time his passion for beans, opening Cafe Hernandez in 1973.
In Darlinghurst and Kings Cross, Hernandez and his son ran two packed branches of their café, the latter open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to introducing Sydneysiders to an early appreciation of the finer aspects of coffee preparation, pioneers such as Hernandez introduced the idea of a café being a place for after-work relaxation. Until the turn of the millennium, when new trends in coffee preparation began to appear, this kind of no-fuss approach to coffee was the norm. Outlets such as Toby’s Estate were at the forefront of this new specialty coffee wave, while international traction was gained by organizations such as the Specialty Coffee Association.
This global movement encouraged those in the coffee industry to focus on a more scientific and artistic level in their approach to coffee preparation. Through a great deal of collaboration between farmers, suppliers, roasters, baristas and clients, people began to discover and appreciate the complexity of the texture and aromas of various coffee blends that, depending on the season, climate and altitude, embody regional characteristics.
The Sydney coffee scene today, and the Australian coffee scene in general, is among the most vibrant in the world, with award-winning roasters, baristas and coffee farmers converging to taste and enjoy the brews in the city. To really get a taste of Sydney’s passion for a nice cup of coffee, you must check out the above listed cafes in Sydney.