If you’ve never visited Australia, if you think of it, coffee probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. If you have been to Australia, you know that it has some of the best coffee in the world, if not the best. Coffee shops are on every block, restaurants all employ trained baristas and even McDonald’s serves a decent cappuccino. Yeah, I was surprised too.
After spending six wonderful years living in Sydney and traveling throughout Australia, I had my share of their delicious coffee. And trust me, it’s pretty easy to find good coffee down under so these recommendations are by no means exclusive. If you’re craving a good cup, you’re more likely to get a hit than a miss if you walk in to any random coffee shop.
Here are my top pics for best coffee shops from my Australian hometown, Sydney. A few of them were in close proximity to where I worked, but that’s not the reason they’re on this list. The short distance was a happy coincidence. I still went to them even when they were no longer as convenient. Enjoy!
Where: George Street, Sydney, near QVB Building
What it’s best for: A cup to go to take back to the office, go shopping or walking.
Note: Not much place to sit so don’t plan to stay
Social connection: Workshop on Facebook
I got to know Workshop Espresso on George Street in Sydney because I worked in the building around the corner. Being a very busy area of town (lots of offices, shopping and tourist attractions), there’s a fair share of coffee shops to choose from. Workshop Espresso is more of a hole in the wall than a shop. It’s tiny. It has a just a handful of bar stools along a thin counter. 4-5 people work in a space that’s maybe big enough for 2. It’s not the size of the shop that matters here – it’s the coffee.
Whether you’re a doppio espresso kinda guy or an extra dry cappuccino sort of girl, Workshop Espresso is sure to please. Their skilled baristas pull the shots efficiently so you never have to wait long despite a hive of people always hovering just outside on the sidewalk. They also offer their house blend coffee beans as well as a number of single origin varieties for purchase. My favorite espresso coffee comes from there, actually, but that’s a whole other post!
Single Origin Coffee Roasters
Where: Reservoir Street, Surry Hills, near Central Station
What it’s best for: A weekday meeting
Note: They’re closed on Saturdays & they sell coffee beans online
Social connection: Single Origin Roasters on Facebook
I lived around the corner from Single Origin for a few years. The seductive scent from their coffee shop enveloped the whole neighborhood from early hours of the morning. Before they expanded operations, Single Origin roasted their coffee on premise on Reservoir Street. They’d close down the coffee shop for a few weeks at which point a five block radius would be swimming in fresh roasted coffee smell. It was the only thing that kept us going until the shop reopened and we could partake in the delicious brews again.
In addition to their intoxicating coffee, Single Origin offers a tight food menu and innovative gourmet muffins (raspberry and white chocolate anyone?). My favorite? Sourdough bread with fresh ricotta cheese, sliced banana, drizzled with honey. Ah, sweet, sweet memories.
After I moved away from Surry Hills I’d still make it a point to schedule a morning meeting at Single Origin as often as I could.
Bourke Street Bakery
Where: Bourke Street, Surry Hills and Gardeners Road, Alexandria
What it’s best for: Catching up with friends any day of the week
Note: Their sourdough bread is to die for. Their chocolate tarts are sinful. AND they have a cookbook (you have been warned).
Social connection: Bourke Street Bakery on Twitter
Bourke Street Bakery is one of those places I would literally make up an excuse to go to. The coffee is delicious, offcourse, but what’s even better is everything that goes with the coffee: the chocolate tart, the lemon tart, the flowerless coffee cake, the carrot cake, the chocolate croissant. Oh. My. God. It’s all so good…
The great bread and pastries along with the great coffee make Bourke Street Bakery a destination. The corner shop is tiny so there’s always a queue to get in. It may seem intimidating, but it moves fast. There are a few small tables inside and quite a few more outside. It can get a bit chilly outside in the winter since most tables are in the shade, so dress warmly and have an extra coffee to stay toasty :).
Where: Coogee Bay Road, Coogee, near the beach
What it’s best for: Sitting outside, reading the news, people watching
Coogee Bay Road is filled with shops and cafes all the way down to the beach (actually, there’s a shop on the beach and it’s pretty yum!), but this one’s my favorite. They have the best coffee in the area and the people watching is pretty fabulous too. The music is always great and the international cast of baristas has good stories to share, if you’re up for a chat.
Gusto Espresso was part of my weekend ritual when I lived in Randwick. Each Saturday I’d walk down the hill to the beach, sit down with a cappuccino and a newspaper and spend the next little while sipping my cup, eavesdropping on the Friday night recaps of other patrons, watching all the beautiful people walk by. May not sound like the most exciting weekend activity, but it was fun for me.
From what I see online, Gusto has since opened up other shops in the area, but I haven’t tried these other ones.