Sydney’s Best Cafes
Crema Magazine is Australia’s leading coffee magazine. So what, you may ask?
What many people don’t realise is that Australia is one of the world’s leading countries for espresso coffee. So that means when we rate our top cafes, then they are not only top cafes in an Australian context, but also amongst the world’s leading cafes!
What makes the difference between a good coffee and a truly superb one? Firstly, most of our Top Five cafes roast their own coffee, largely because they want maximum control over as many elements of the process as possible. Secondly, our top cafes are not into food. They generally do offer some basics, even if nothing more than a friend or two, but they’re primarily espresso bars.
In fact, there are a number of other things that go into making the difference, but overall it’s the commitment of the owner to excellence right through the process – from sourcing of great coffee through to well-roasted and blended beans, the freshness of the coffee – and the perfect shot that a great barista offers at the end of the process!
Here are the five cafes that we rated top in Sydney last year. This year, we’ll be re-doing our exhaustive review for Melbourne, Australia’s other top cafe city!
Underneath the cornices of the beautiful old Grace Hotel, on the corner of York St and Sydney’s CBD’s busy King St, lies a real gem. And Paul Geshos is determined that Mecca should live up to its name – as a rare oasis for coffee lovers in Sydney’s CBD!
With two beautiful Mirage’s side by side, they certainly pump them out – and they need to, once the city crowd of aficionados starts lining up at the door from first thing in the morning.
But Mecca is also pushing the boundaries with other types of coffee, including the Siphon unit – a vacuum coffee maker, which works on the principle of expansion and contraction of water vapour to infuse the coffee grounds, a method primarily employeed by coffee nerds, but becoming increasingly popular with specialty coffee aficionados.
If you make it to Sydney, a trip to Mecca is a pilgrimage worth making!
One of the pioneers of specialty coffee in Sydney, Toby’s have been up there, but not quite top of their game for the last couple of years. However, with a couple of new baristas, and innovations like the new Mirage Idro Compresso hand lever unit [at their Chippendale store] they’re definitely back up there with the best!
With a house espresso blend that is full-bodied and chocolaty, this is truly excellent coffee destination – highly recommended.
We ‘discovered’ Campos seven years ago [Crema issue Spring 2002] and others took up on our review that year, and in subsequent years. With their success has come growth – they’ve expanded to become one of Sydney’s leading suppliers of specialty coffee to cafes.
Typically with a tangy, fruity flavour and hint of spice, their shots come to their peak with milk-based coffees, and since approximately 90% of Australians drink milk-based espresso, they’ve picked their niche well! It’s always busy and the main complaint is often finding a seat. But we see its business as a just reward for their commitment to espresso excellence!
As the name suggests, these guys have chosen to make a name for themselves in single origin coffees. A buzzy atmosphere one that’s almost a little too frenetic for some they manage to pour out some of the best espresso shots in town. Typically your espresso will have a spicy, caramelly flavour [‘House Origin’ blend], but they also offer single origins like Habar from Honduras, El Salvador Santa Anna and Panamanian Boquete.
Single Origin hit the scene almost 6 years ago with their café in Sydney’s trendy Surry Hills, and over that time, have built up a loyal following.
An oasis of relaxation in beachside Cronulla – Grind features the sort of cosy, grungy atmosphere that you would expect to find in Newtown’s King St. Its walls are lined with all sorts of knick-knacks, photos and reviews – most of them good! And there’s a reason for that. Richard Calabro and his team churn out the sort of coffees that you could almost drive down to Cronulla especially for.
Let’s cut to the chase – they don’t do food but that’s not why you come to Grind. It’s an espresso bar and yes, it’s all about the coffee. And what great coffee it is too – it certainly holds its own with any of its more citified Sydney compatriots – smooth, bold and with an excellent crema – these guys do it right. If you’re down that way, make sure you make a visit; for the true espresso aficionado, this one’s definitely worth the 40 minute drive!