This is our edit of Sydney’s best new cafes from the past 12 months, updated monthly.

Some are following the latest coffee trends – continuing the push away from espresso and towards batch-brew – while others are just trying to become great neighbourhood catch-up spots.

Here’s where we’re going for coffee right now.

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Picco Leo

Restaurant Leo, run by veteran chefs Federico Zanellato and Karl Firla, has been one of the few bright spots in a dark year for Sydney’s restaurants. Especially given its CBD location. Picco Leo is the restaurant’s casual counterpart next-door. Picco Leo acts as a cafe and bakery during the week (go for an anchovy-and-sage scroll or light sandwich). Later in the week, it becomes an evening aperitivo bar, melding classic antipasti with forward-thinking cocktails designed by a former Scout bartender.

2 Angel Place, Sydney

The Fold

Would it surprise you to learn that this new Sri Lankan cafe also sells one of Sydney’s best (and bizarrely, oldest) Portuguese tarts? The Fold, which opened in July, is in the same space that once housed Fernandes Patisserie. Fernandes’s owner insisted that the tarts appear on the menu, even coming around to teach The Fold’s owners how to make them. Those tarts appear in the glass cabinet alongside an array of appetising cakes. The dine-in menu is all Sri Lankan though, with four types of sambol hoppers, rotis and curries. For dessert, there’s even pan-fried milk.

403 New Canterbury Road, Dulwich Hill

The Navy Bear

Bird & Bear, the hospitality group behind Mosman Rowers, Foys Kirribilli and the Boy and Bear are fast becoming Sydney’s go-to waterside dining specialists. The team has applied its tried and true formula here to Royal Australian Navy Sailing Association’s (Ransa) boatshed – fully unlocking the space’s potential and the stunning harbour vistas that come with it. Visit for all day-coffee and breakfasts and lunches that cover all bases (yes, fish’n’chips is a menu mainstay).

Sir David Martin Reserve 1C New Beach Road, Darling Point

Stix

You’ll find this cafe and grocer in an old loading dock in Marrickville’s backstreets. Behind the roller doors is a sleek space with high-vaulted ceilings and dark timber tables. On the menu, there’s something for everyone’s tastes. Apart from seafood, every ingredient is sourced from owner David “Stix” Allison’s farm just outside Sydney.

20 Chapel Street, Marrickville

Old Gold

If you open a cafe in an old chocolate factory, you kinda have to name it after a chocolate bar, right? Hence, Old Gold – aka Grandma’s favourite dark chocolate. It’s the third outpost from the Sample Coffee guys, who really have this whole opening-a-cafe thing figured out. The coffee is excellent, the food is plant-heavy and the space is stylish.

1 Dangar Street, Chippendale

Pilgrims Bronte

Tell anyone you’re headed to the South Coast, and chances are they’ll tell you to go to Pilgrims. Now the Milton icon has a second Sydney outpost in Bronte, joining Pilgrims Cronulla. This plant-based cafe’s menu has all of the classics from the original, plus newer dishes such as a haloumi burger and veggie chips with chipotle aioli.

127 Macpherson Street, Bronte

Mayflower

Some believe that Covid-19 and its fallout will lead to more toned-down and austere cafes and menus. Not Kevin Ly and Christian Lee. The pair are betting big on extravagance: Mayflower is dialled up to 11. Enter the corner art deco building for a striking floral-themed fit-out. On the menu there’s plenty of truffles, caviar and a toastie that has to be seen to be believed.

2/203A Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst

Small's Deli

This petite, takeaway-focused sandwich shop offers no-nonsense sangas, strong coffees and a few bits and bobs for the pantry. And that’s about it. But boy are those sandwiches something. In the morning, the croque-monsieur (filled with a gooey cheese-medley and double-smoked ham) is your go. Later on, every sandwich on the lunch menu is a crowdpleaser. There’s also a respectable range of salads, sweets and pastries.

166 Victoria Street, Potts Point

Kurumac

Kurumac comes to us courtesy of the owner of Cool Mac, in Kirribilli. It also means “Cool Mac” in Japanese. So a lot of the DNA from the original cafe – from the jazz and hip-hop soundtrack to the mural artwork – can be found throughout. Although a lot of the menu plays things straight (standard Japanese dishes, a variety of salads and a range of sweets in a cabinet), the most offbeat dishes on the menu have actually been the most popular. The spicy cod roe melt – a toasted, inch-high cut of Japanese milk bread, spread lightly with peppery roe and grilled with tasty cheese – is a bestseller.

107 Addison Road, Marrickville