In a city saturated with Scandi-cool cafes, Wide Open Road stands out. It has a certain X factor that can’t be solely explained by the building’s industrial charm, the ever-buzzing vibe or the unique looks of the staff and customers.
Hootan Heydari and Jono Hill (Heart Attack and Vine, Bedford Street) arrived here in 2009, to start roasting their own coffee. Their first cafe, A Minor Place (since sold), was too small for the task.
Since then they’ve steadily built their roasting expertise. The flagship Bathysphere blend includes beans from Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and Kenya. It works beautifully with milk. Superb filter roasts are served as batch brew or pour-over. Tea is treated just as seriously, with Larsen & Thompson leaves steeped at precise temperatures and durations using thermometers and timers. Then there's the in-house brand of chai, Chai La Lai.
Despite the focus on hot drinks, food is far from an afterthought. The bacon sandwich (with provolone, smoked mozzarella and apple-and-chilli relish) is worth travelling for alone. Other highlights include banana bread with cherries, mascarpone and popping candy, and harissa-whitebean puree on toast.
The cafe is refreshingly spacious, with plenty of hardwood communal benches and cosy booths. The original brickwork has been retained to complement the mint-green walls, terrazzo tiles and a curved ply ceiling. Pop in at the right time, and you’ll see the roaster in action in the windowed section up the back.