Australia's claim to the flat white may be contentious, but our love affair with coffee is hardly up for debate. Our roasters and baristas are some of the most accomplished, inventive and technical in the world. It seems with each passing month there’s a new brewing technique, new gadgets or a shift in the idea of what good coffee actually means.

These are the cafes defining the future and, at the same time, giving us the basics at their very best. The only thing left for you to do is decide how you like your coffee.

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Single O Cafe and Sideshow


When Dion and Emma Cohen fired up their roaster in Surry Hills in 2003, few people knew what single-origin coffee was. Since then Single O (formerly Single Origin) has been instrumental in improving our general understanding of coffee, with a focus on ethics and traceability. The company also cares about the environment: its roastery runs on solar and the Cohens helped developed the Juggler, a milk-bladder system that cuts down on plastic bottles.

60-64 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills

Ona Coffee


Ona's founder, Sasa Sestic, won the 2015 World Barista Championship with a bright blend called Raspberry Candy. It's the primary attraction at this spartan "coffee experience bar", where baristas pull espresso through a San Remo Cafe Racer, a machine Sestic helped design. Hardcore coffee drinkers can splash out for premium-reserve coffees, which have been roasted, aged, then vacuum-sealed into individual doses and frozen. It's easy to see why Ona is so revered in its hometown of Canberra.

140 Marrickville Road, Marrickville

Mecca Coffee Alexandria


Mecca was one of the Sydney's earliest specialty roasters. From a small espresso bar in 2005, it's become one of the city's most important coffee operations. Their roasts can be found in cafes across Sydney, but they're rarely brewed better than at this big, beautiful warehouse that serves as the brand's HQ.

26 Bourke Road, Alexandria

St Dreux


The owners here have over 30 years experience in coffee combined. And it shows. The coffee selection at St Dreux is inventive, inclusive of all tastes (three kinds of roasts) and at the forefront of the field – both in terms of tech and know-how.

151 Clarence Street, Sydney

Reuben Hills


Every coffee company has relationships with its growers, but few have gone so far as Reuben Hills. Owner Russell Beard and his team have a particular affinity for Central and South American coffees, which are here matched with unusual food inspired by the region. Filter coffee is brewed on the Marco SP9, an incredibly consistent, single-serve percolator.

61 Albion Street, Surry Hills

Paramount Coffee Project


Russell Beard's other big project in Sydney is a collaboration with Mark Dundon, the godfather of Melbourne's coffee scene. This stark site has some operational quirks only baristas would notice, such as the stainless steel trays loaded with cups of pre-ground coffee shots. Presumably, it's to keep up with demand – even in busy Surry Hills, this is a destination spot for many drinkers. PCP has proven so successful, it's been spun into two cafes in Los Angeles.

80 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills



Plenty of cafes focus on coffee and little else, but few do it with as much dedication as Neighbourhood. This tiny little cubby hole hosts just two baristas, a coffee machine and a few pastries. Beans are roasted by the Neighbourhood team with help from Artificer.

16 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills

Primary Coffee Roasters


This is more showroom than cafe, with coffee from one of Sydney's most experienced baristas.

1/9 Ward Avenue, Potts Point



No expense was spared on this gorgeous space, where baristas work with Veneziano beans, two Synesso Hydras and milk is steamed by machine, not hand, using dual Übermilks. Like Reuben Hills, Regiment also uses the consistent Marco SP9 for its filter orders.

Ground Floor 333 George Street, Sydney

Artificer Specialty Coffee Bar & Roastery


This neat, American oak panelled shop is a visual hint at what you'll get in the cup: clean, bright, light roasts that make each small shipment of beans sing. Owners Dan Yee and Shoji Sasa don't even serve any food, so as to give the coffee their full attention.

547 Bourke Street, Surry Hills

Skittle Lane


Skittle Lane beans are harder to find than say, Single O or Mecca, but it's not for lack of quality. This diminutive shop just off King Street roasts its own well-rounded espresso blend and a number of seasonal filters, making it well worth a stop next time you're in the area.

40 King Street, Sydney

Edition Coffee Roasters Haymarket


Inspired by a traditional Japanese farm or mountain house, with takeaway bento boxes and fine-dining level mains. Scandi-design sensibility combined with Japanese food isn't new these days, but who cares when it's done this well?

60 Darling Drive, Haymarket

Coffee Alchemy


Don't be dissuaded by the queue – it's worth it. Coffee Alchemy’s Hazel de los Reyes has a few competitive titles to her name, most notably in cupping, the tasting process by which roasters grade coffee and determine whether or not it qualifies as “specialty”. That experience is evident in her down-to-earth roastery and espresso bar, where there’s always a line.

2 87 Sydenham Road, Marrickville

Gumption by Coffee Alchemy


Coffee Alchemy’s second outlet announces its mission as soon as you walk in. A bank of brass-capped tubes fixed to the wall hold multiple roasts ready for customers to take home or enjoy right there. This is an essential stop at the Strand.

Shop 11, Ground Floor Strand Arcade, Sydney

Dutch Smuggler


It’s getting harder and harder to stand out solely by roasting beans to a high-quality standard. Dutch Smuggler does that, but we’re particularly enamoured with its creative coffee mocktails, which include ingredients such as lemon and ginger beer. It's a whole new way to enjoy coffee.

200 George Street, Sydney

Mecca Coffee CBD


It’s been more than a decade since Paul Geshos opened this little shop, and it’s still one of our favourites. House Blend, the brand’s straight-facedly named house blend, is a classic and it’s pulled with noted consistency here.

67 King Street, Sydney



This was once Mecca's flagship store. Now, it's no longer owned by Mecca, but it still uses that roaster's beans. More important is that the coffee is still some of the best in town.

646 Harris Street, Ultimo

Sample Coffee Surry Hills


Competition is fierce in Surry Hills. This little cafe made a name for itself by rotating coffees from other specialty roasters around town, hence the name “Sample”. Now, though, the main attraction is its own roasts, which come from a newer site in St Peters.

118 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills

Sample Coffee St Peters


The mothership. Most days the place smells of freshly roasted coffee – a wonderful accompaniment to your brew, whether it's a black Kenyan Gaguyuni, cold-brew Ethiopian Wottona Boltuma, or batch brewed Colombia Villa Linda.

Suite 1.03 75 Mary Street (cnr Albion Lane), St Peters

Double Tap Coffee


This is a great place to get acquainted with beans from Panorama Coffee, a relatively unheralded roaster that Double Tap owner Daniel Karaconji has a soft spot for.

54-56 Smith Street, Marrickville



Owner Jim Papadakis previously roasted for Campos and Little Marionette. He’s a big believer in using blends to achieve a unique taste, rather than the single-origin coffees other roasters in Sydney get from the same farms and growers.

1 727 New Canterbury Road, Dulwich Hill