The Best Coffee in Sydney

Updated 1 month ago

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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.

  • If you find yourself in the inner west and enjoying your daily ritual a little more than usual, chances are there’s an omni-roasted Sample brew in your cup. This light-filled roastery on a one-way street is the mothership for the specialty coffee brand, and is complemented by espresso bars in Surry Hills and Chippendale.

  • 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 hardcore coffee drinkers can splash out on premium-reserve coffees, which have been roasted, aged, then vacuum-sealed into individual doses and frozen.

  • Traditional Japanese mountain houses were the inspiration behind Edition’s flagship cafe. Enter this astounding space for fine-dining level breakfasts fusing Scandi and Japanese flavours, and some of the best coffee in Sydney.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • This neat, American oak-panelled shop is a visual hint at what you'll get in the cup. Artificer’s clean, bright, light roasts 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. And the results speak for themselves – the place is reliably packed every morning.

  • At the back of an unassuming food court near Wynyard Station, this buzzing spot is making specialty coffee great again – with warm service and rare single-estate geishas you won't find elsewhere. It hosts regular cupping sessions, and will bust your hunger with toasties, pastries and the occasional pop-up.

  • 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.

  • Skittle Lane beans are harder to find than say, Sample or Single O. 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. It also has location in Bondi and Manly.

  • One of Sydney’s most experienced baristas is behind this neighbourhood nook – which feels more like a coffee showroom than a cafe. Expect to find the highest quality single origins offered as filter and espresso. When combined with Jersey milk from Warrnambool in Victoria, the seasonal blend exudes notes of caramel, chocolate and nougat.

  • The flagship cafe for the popular Northern Beaches roastery serves a range of New York-inspired bagels, alongside melty, show-stopping toasties and quality coffee. Find the lot within a low-key warehouse space tucked away in Brookvale's industrial area.

  • The Sydney specialty coffee roaster’s debut cafe is a colourful and educational space where you can learn about the coffee you're sipping. Come for a range of sustainable single-origin coffees, pastries from Tuga and gluten-free fare from Little Secrets Bakehouse.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A petite espresso bar doing exactly what it says on the tin. At this decaf- and chai-free zone you have just three milk choices: full-cream, skim and oat. And it’s the only Australian stockist of beans from top US micro-roastery, Sey Coffee.

  • Inside a heritage shop on the leafy side of Ashfield train station, you’ll find a tiny cafe with a huge rotating list of international guest roasters. Apothecary also drops its own house roasts in the mix, to go with a tight menu of pastries, things on toast and a must-order pastrami sandwich.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Double Tap owner Daniel Karaconji was one of the original roasters at Alchemy around the corner. These days you’ll find him at his bright community cafe roasting small batches of single origin beans on a petite Probat roaster every Wednesday.

  • The Sydney roastery brings it all together under one expansive roof. Enter this industrial space for a neat cafe, roastery and training space where the aspiring barista can participate in tasting experiences, coffee-making classes and more.

  • At the Melbourne-born roaster’s first Sydney shop, you’ll find seasonal espresso blends and single origins alongside excellent pastries and bread. Plus, everything you need to lift your coffee game at home – from hand-grinders to espresso machines and beyond.