On a road trip around Australia? Having the best time of your life exploring this magnificent continent? Excellent!
Does that mean you have to give up your daily caffeine fix in exchange for a wild experience down under?
No sir, it doesn’t!
When it comes to brain juice, Australians know all there is to know about it, having embraced the black bean more wholeheartedly than most countries in the world. The right amount of flavour, the bitterness, the exoticness of the beans in right sized cups; yes, you’ll find it all in the lucky country.
While Melbourne has long boasted the title of Australia’s coffee culture capital, Sydney is chasing it down as we speak. The reason Melbourne took an early lead is because it embraced the culture of its European migrant earlier than the other capitals. Sydney’s coffee culture, however, is thriving. Coffee has become entrenched in its way of life, with cafés being realised in more imaginative, refined and personal ways. Sydney no longer pulls mere shots of coffee for its patrons – now, it’s all about the detail, the elegance of the experience and their sense of community.
With a climate that is perfect for outdoor eating and drinking you can enjoy a coffee at café tables on urban laneways and on strikingly beautiful beaches and parks staring at the uniquely Australian blue skies. Here are some of the best spots for you to get your rocket fuel in glorious Sydney town.
Top Five Sydney’s Coffee Hotspots
- Surry Hills and surrounding suburbs
The epicentre of Sydney’s bustling coffee scene, Surry Hills is dotted with endless number of cafés within a stone’s throw of each other. This once sleepy inner south suburb adjacent to Sydney’s Central train station, is now a bustling coffee mecca offering everything from big-breakfast old faithfuls to first-rate baristas experimenting with top-class beans and commune-type coffee sanctuaries.
Cheeky, bold, rebellious, Surry Hills’ warehouse-turned-galleries/cafés/shops are all impressively trendy without losing their sass and their sense of community. Its many now renowned cafés pride themselves on offering local and hyper-local produce, in-house preparation techniques, and nose for the kind of coffee and fare their customers want.
Not to be missed in Surry Hills is the ten year old ‘Boulangerie’. Queues consistently spill out onto the footpath at this little corner bakery. A slice of Paris in Bourke Street, this is where you’ll get crispy croissants, mouth-watering tarts and decadent artisan breads to accompany your world-class coffees.
While Surry Hills is the most striking example of the new coffee culture emerging in Sydney, the surrounding inner city suburbs of Summer Hill, Dulwich Hill and Newtown are also seeing a strong café culture taking root.
Newtown runs along Sydney University’s western boundary. Once a student-and-immigrant ghetto, it is now one of Sydney’s funkiest suburbs, with a mix of sub-cultures that keeps things vibrant to say the least. Newtown’s traffic-clogged King Street is home to an extraordinary array of stylish furniture and interior shops; retro goods and pop-culture collectibles; and a virtually-unmatched collection of eateries.
Cafés, too, are part of Newtown’s creative lifestyle tapestry, many of them exhibiting the work by local artists. Professionals, students, emos and punks all sit side by side enjoying what artisan bakers and master baristas have to offer in Newtown.
2. Leichardt (Little Italy) and surrounding suburbs
Travelling down the congested Parramatta Road that leads to Leichardt will make you wonder whether the trip is worth the effort. If superb coffee is what you are craving for, don’t turn back because superb coffee is what you’ll get in the headquarters of Sydney’s Italian community. That, and a lot more.
Just 5 km from Sydney’s CBD, Leichardt has seen a constant influx of Italian migrants since the late 1950s and now boasts a thriving creative culture and food lovers’ haven. Today, the aroma of freshly roasted true original coffee will hit you as you wander through Leichardt’s workers’ cottages and warren of charming tree-lined streets.
Visit Little Italy on a weekend, sit down on any of the á-la-italiana no-frills coffee shops in Norton Street and be treated with a colourful performance by Leichardt’s inhabitants doing what they do best – eating, drinking and just catching up on the gossip.
Until recently, Manly was best known for its surf, the many athletic bodies pounding the pavement daily, its not-so-flash Ocean World and for the very enjoyable ferry ride from Circular Quay. These days, though, Manly is fast becoming “the place” where to enjoy the world’s best beans in style.
There’s a lot happening in Manly and it’s all good for young tourists in search of a good swim and a caffeine boost. The Northern Sydney beach town now welcomes roasting houses and laneway cafés where coffee lovers can sample beans originating from different estates around the world and learn about different brewing methods. The old dollar-dazzlers are giving way to welcome funky café spaces with high pressed-metal ceilings and vintage furniture, recycled timbers and exposed weatherboard walls.
The Bondi to Bronte coastal walk is a must in Sydney whether you are caffeine-dependent or whether living without high octane is not a realistic option for you. In either case, put on a pair of running shoes and enjoy some of the best views you’ll ever see. If you prefer to take it all in from a trendy café, though, both the Sydney Eastern suburbs of Bondi and Bronte have a number of outlets offering some of the best beans in the world.
Never has Bondi Beach been so alive with the smell of ludicrously delicious things. There is a multitude of beach-side cafés located on Campbell Parade, Bondi’s main strip serving exactly what you need before tackling the lovely Bondi to Bronte walk – from experimental coffee milkshakes with home-made syrups and artisanal ingredients to queue-worthy espresso and white-chocolate shakes.
Coffee Tours in Sydney
If you’d rather hold the hand of a coffee expert to savour Sydney’s café culture, there are numerous coffee tours offering coffee connoisseurs and lovers a look into the city’s coffee secrets. You’ll find out the type of coffee beans that were first imported into Australia, Sydney’s historic coffee brewers and, most importantly, you’ll get to taste the finest coffee in the city while you learn about its progression from the rainforest to the retailer.
The following companies offer a diverse range of Coffee Tours in Sydney. Add them to the splendour of this city and you are guaranteed a complete sensory experience you’ll never forget:
Coffee compulsion satisfied.
You may now continue your tour down under.
And remember – Stop, Revive, Survive. You can fuel up anywhere in this vast continent.
(Note: I have in no way been rewarded by the mentioned companies).