After two years of hard work, Caffeine Cartel is finally open for business in the lobby of the United Overseas Bank (UOB) building on Martin Place.
Owner Daniel Drakopoulos has big aspirations for his cafe.
“I want it to become an institution for Martin Place, like a cartel,” he says, adding he hopes to roll out more Caffeine Cartels as a “mini empire” in the near future, following in the footsteps of his entrepreneurial father Bill Drakopoulos (the owner of the Sydney Restaurant Group, which is responsible for Ripples, Ormeggio at The Spit and LuMi).
“I want to do what Justin Hemmes is doing [with Merivale]. I want to be the next Bill Drakopoulos. My dad is my idol,” says Drakopoulos, beaming with pride.
The brown herringbone-tiled space extends an invitation to dine-in, or take away from its retractable service windows, which face out. A glass cabinet is filled to the brim with pastries, while sandwiches are neatly arranged on the coffee counter. While you wait, you can retreat from Martin Place and take a seat in the lobby of the UOB building and be served by one of the friendly staff.
Typical brews – including a bottomless batch brew – using a Little Marionette coffee blend exclusive to the cafe (Blend 88) are on offer. For a bit of zing, try the espresso tonic with a splash of yuzu.
There’s also a frappe, but not the fruity kind. This one is a traditional Greek iced-coffee, using imported Greek instant coffee, water and sugar, before a handstick blender is used to create a foam top. It’s finished off with a splash of milk.
If you’re skipping caffeine altogether, take them up on one of their fresh juices.
The tiny kitchen plates up crushed avocado with house-made dukkah, goat’s cheese and a boiled egg on buttered wholegrain toast with rocket for breakfast.
Come lunchtime, it’s all about generous bowls such as the naked-burrito bowl with pulled pork or chicken, black beans, capsicum, quinoa, kumera (a variety of sweet potato), jalapeno, guacamole, sour cream and lime. Or, in a hurry? Pick up the triple-cheese white-sourdough toastie that oozes with the piping-hot “cheese of the day”, and is stacked with caramelised onion, which cuts through.
But it’s not just Drakopoulos doing big things. His sister and owner of LuMi, Anastasia, is working with LuMi head chef Federico Zanellato to open a restaurant in Petersham at the end of the year.
32 Martin Place, Sydney
(02) 9460 0048
Mon to Fri 6.30am–4pm
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on June 5, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.