The variety of coffee now available in Sydney means we can get fussy without travelling too far to find what we like.

John Smith Specialty Coffee has opened on a dry stretch of John Street, at the corner of Botany Road in Waterloo. It’s a 15-minute walk from Redfern and a great alternative if you can’t get a table at one of the bustling cafes in Alexandria.

John Smith is run by Josh Folden, Levi Mostyn (Two Black Sheep in the CBD and Sourdough Panini Bakery on York Street) and Daniel McNeill, who’s in charge of the food. Folden also runs Rebel Roasters, which supplies John Smith with its coffee. The beans are changed seasonally but maintain the same profile – “A heavy chocolate for our milk blend and a lot of fruit, blueberries and currents for black – says Mostyn.

“When we palate the coffee first thing in the morning, we taste test everything: milk-based coffee, black coffee and single origins,” says Mostyn. “Each of the coffees will be made differently. By calibrating the grinder we find our dose and extraction rate. We also write our notes on a board in the shop, which we call the calibration station, so throughout the day we can refer back to it and adjust it.”

Food, too, is no afterthought. The menu is filled with typical cafe fare, executed in not-so-typical ways, such as eggs benedict with pulled pork; pumpkin and cumin soup with goat’s cheese dumplings; and lemon-pepper chicken with lime and chilli aioli and greens, all served with a seasonal side salad which changes every two days.

Don’t be shy when it comes to your coffee preferences here, talking to the baristas might lead to the coffee you never knew you wanted.

John Smith Specialty Coffee
1 John Street, Waterloo

Mon to Fri 6.30am–4pm
Sat & Sun 7am–5pm