Best Cafes of Sydney 2011

WorkshopRGB_webMake no mistake, Australia is at the peak of espresso coffee on the world stage with a number of barista champions, past and present hailing from our shores and many of our top cafes cresting the ‘third’ and even ‘fourth’ waves in world espresso.

Sydney is no exception to this and boasts a number of truly world-class cafes. Many of our reviewers have travelled, or even lived in Europe and their reviews attest to the increasing dominance of antipodean coffee on the world scene; let no-one doubt – these cafes are at the peak of their game and are of a world class standard.

So it is with pleasure that we bring you Crema Magazine’s Best Cafes of Sydney for 2011…

The first thing to note is that there seems to have been a ‘changing of the guard’ in the upper echelons of the Sydney specialty coffee scene. Whilst the more established players are still pumping out excellent coffee, the ‘quiet achievers’ and a couple of ‘new kids on the block’ have been pushing the limits even further and have proven themselves worthy of higher accolades.

Although many offer food,  that is not their primary purpose – they’re listed here because our reviewers believe they are at the top in the business of espresso coffee in Sydney; they are, with one exception, not really cafes but ‘espresso bars’ and whether they serve food or not, is ancillary to their mission.

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CoffeeAlchemyRGB_web

1.           Coffee Alchemy

24 Addison Road
Marrickville
Tel: (02) 9516 1997

In spite of its unprepossessing exterior, it’s amazing the number of coffee cogniscenti that flock to this little coffee haven in the light-industrial precinct of Marrickville on a Saturday morning.

The unassuming brick exterior hides an amazing little corner box comprising one of Sydney’s best boutique coffee gems. Coffee Alchemy doesn’t offer food at all  – they only do coffee – a blend, at least 3 single estate espressos each day,  4 or more single estate filter coffees and later in the week cold drip coffee and shakeratos [sparkling cold coffee].

This variety is founded on a bedrock of deep coffee knowledge – Hazel de los Reyes grew up with coffee trees all around her in the Philippines and was Australian Barista Champion in 2005 and what she doesn’t know about coffee isn’t worth knowing. She has passed this passion and enthusiasm on the her team and they are constantly pushing and trying new things, and for those less knowledgeable, they are always happy to share.

Note: this is a haven for coffee purists and on that note, be aware this is a tiny space, often with customers.jostling for room. In the words of one of our reviewers, possibly ‘the most authentic specialty coffee place in Australia’.

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MeccaRGB_web2.       Mecca

67 King Street [corner of York]
Sydney CBD
Tel: (02) 9299 8828

Voted  no. 1 in our 2009 review for many reasons, not least of which was [and still is] their ability to bring great coffee to a ridiculous number of people, but also the professionalism of the team.

Although on a busy street-front location, the buzz of sated coffee aficionados at the outside tables is such that you soon forget the traffic passing nearby; and in any case, there are stools inside to hide away from the bustle outdoors and marvel at the beautiful MISTRAL espresso machine taking pride of place inside.

The team at Mecca have a wealth of coffee knowledge, which in spite of the busy city location, they are usually quite happy to share, when they have a spare moment!  Feel free to ask for different coffee options – for instance siphon, served on demand – and they are one of the few places in Australia which offers Clover coffee.

A cafe with a busy and buzzy inner-city vibe. The coffee quality at Mecca does vary, but only from good to amazing!

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SourceRGB_web3.       The Source

6/914 Military Road
Mosman
Tel: (02) 9969 1368

In our 2010 feature, we rated Russell Beard’s The Source as best ‘up-and-coming’ and there’s no doubt this promise has been fulfilled… amongst the beamers and botox of suburban Mosman , this shrine to Sydney coffee deservedly claims its place in our official Top Five.

Russell and the team offer up consistently excellent coffee [including Clover] and despite the cafe often being filled to the brim with patrons, they still roast on site, choosing to maintain complete control over the coffee process from bean to cup rather than succumbing to the desire to fit more people in –  a ‘less is more’ approach in stark contrast to the otherwise dollar-driven backdrop of Mosman. The beauty of this, of course, is that on most days customers can interact with the roasting process whilst drinking some of those very same blends and origins. The staff are friendly, yet extremely professional and although coffee is their main business, the food is equally as impressive.  A coffee haven such as this is a rare find on Sydney’s North Shore.

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WhiteHorseRGB_web4.   White Horse

2/137 Flora Street
Sutherland

Sutherland is not the first destination you might think of when searching for top-quality espresso, but these guys are a shining light in Sydney’s southern suburbs.

Their La Marzocco Linea espresso machine belies their location on a rather bland suburban street, but the inside space is city-chic – shiny and modern with white marble.  As for coffee credentials, Dom [the owner] is an ex NSW Barista Champ and has recently opened White Horse after working in Tokyo for two years, helping Paul Bassett [World Barista Champ 2003] launch his Espresso enterprise there.

White Horse currently uses coffee roasted by Mecca and they will soon commission their own roaster. If you’re looking for great coffee in the southern suburbs, these guys nail it time after time.

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LeMondeRGB_web5.       Le Monde

83 Foveaux Street
Surry Hills
Tel: (02) 9211 3568

Rated highly by several other reviews for their food, Le Monde has been recently concentrating on their coffee as well , and it shows.  Located on Surry Hills’ busy Foveaux Street, and often better known by taxi drivers and the local fashionistas from neighouring Kippax St, LeMonde has reinvented itself with a new chef [Chris, formerly of Oscillate Wildly in Newtown] and more recently, a new emphasis on coffee.

They have been truly transformed, right down to the shiny Synesso sitting nobly on the bench and like most of Sydney’s top [coffee] cafes, Le Monde also has brewed coffee available by Clover & offers single estate espresso.

One of the few foodie cafes in Sydney that also knows how to do coffee. Excellent.

Our sincere thanks go to our panel of judges who devoted their time and expertise. It was not an easy task – in the words of one of our reviewers, “any of these cafes could be Sydney’s No.1 on any day – it was very difficult to separate them”! Our judges were, Emily Oak, Scottie Callaghan, Paul Golding, Aaron Lucas

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