Marvel Street Roasters coffee. 260 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Thirroul. The original Buck Hamblin ran a shoe store here for three generations of his family, and now it’s a licensed cafe. Ex-White-Horse barista Luke Barrett is at the helm, and is running the show on a hot but quiet Saturday afternoon when I wander in.
Inside, it’s a spacious, well lit place with comfortable chairs and excellent coffee. I have an espresso and a filter, and they’re both well made, and Luke is happy to explain their origins.
And you have to love a place with a lego character on the espresso machine.
Open 7am-4pm every day.
Double Roasters. 2-4 Canley Vale Ave, Canley Vale. On the edge of Canley Vale, close to its train station, lies this newly opened cafe with a focus on delicious, instagram-friendly food.
The inside is reminiscent of Blackwood Pantry in Cronulla, with lots of light timber and white walls. It’s a beautiful space, and they’ve made the most of the space they have – fitting in as many tables and chairs as they can, but still with the airiness of the high roof.
They managed to spread the colour around, and provide views into the kitchen.
Coffee is quite good – it’s a double roasters. My espresso is gone in a single gulp.
The flat white is even better than the espresso; balanced, with a rich mouthfeel.
We tried quite a bit of the food, but the standout was the fried chicken burger. Just a hint of chilli, good balance, and Brasserie Bread soft bread roll.
If you’ve never been to Canley Vale, now might just be the time to try it out.
Di Lorenzo Coffee. 14 Hartill-Law Avenue, Bardwell Park. I’ve driven past this place a few times, and when I was due for a late lunch, I thought I’d call in. There’s a lot of Pinocchio-themed toys and artwork on the walls and around the coffee machine, and the menu is even inside a Pinocchio storybook.
Tasty and generously portioned caesar salad ($12.50) and flat white ($3.50), with still water in an italian soda bottle (free). It’s a good quality, suburban cafe that makes an effort to make its customers welcome.
The Grounds Coffee. Shop 5, 33 Surf Lane, Cronulla. I saw this one via Instagram activity, and it looked like a perfect storm of coffee and food enthusiasm. For a place that has only just opened, they’re doing spectacularly well – the front-of-house staff are courteous and efficient, the coffee-making staff are skilled and knowledgable and the kitchen staff are professional and churning out delicious, creative food.
We arrive in time for a late lunch and find the place is crowded, and there’s a wait. We’re immediately added to a waitlist, and seated well in advance of the expected waiting time – always good to under-promise and over-deliver on wait times.
An initial coffee order is taken while we look at the Summer menu; there’s a small set of kids options which are well explained (the fruit paddle pop is actually a frozen fruit puree, not a fruit kebab) and delivered ahead of the grown-up meals.
But it’s the coffee that’s a pleasant surprise. Among the coffee options are aeropress and V60. I order a V60 – the coffee on offer changes each week; this week’s is from Small Batch Roasters in Melbourne, the previous week was Reuben Hills. Staff choose the filter coffee in a cupping session, and fill in the tasting notes themselves.
Their milk coffee game is strong too: it’s a well-presented standard Grounds offering.
It looks like this place is going to find a solid customer base for Cronulla locals who want creative, well-made food paired with changing coffee.
Official website – http://www.blackwoodpantry.com.au/
Dear Delicious coffee. 245 Wardell Rd, Dulwich Hill (near the train station). Found this one via Google – I thought someone had mentioned a new place in Dulwich Hill, but I couldn’t remember much detail: sorry if you were the one who told me about it! Easy to find, and being a Sunday afternoon, relatively easy to find parking nearby.
We arrived near the end of the shift for the week, looking for a snack and some beverages. Sadly, this meant we were missing the core strength of the cafe: sustainably produced local foods – the plates on adjacent tables looked delicious, but that’s for another visit.
The chia pudding (with activated almonds, sugar coated chia seeds, and macerated strawberries), though, was delicious: great blend of textures and flavours. I wasn’t as sure about my own first choice of beverage: the mug of cocoa nibs and vanilla was a bit too subtle for my ageing palette: for what I was after, I think I should have ordered the hot chocolate!
The cold drip coffee was well put together – the flavours coming through well: it’s a small rig near the counter, the waitress looking across to see if there was any available.
Coffee itself is pleasant enough: the flat white was perfectly fine, well presented. A worthy option in the Dulwich Hill scene.
White Horse Coffee. 226 Crown St, Wollongong. If you haven’t been to the Crown St Mall and surrounds recently, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Lots of construction work has finished, there’s more parking, and there are new premises open, like this one: Humber, just beyond the Crown St Mall on the railway station end.
It’s a pleasant fit-out with lots of rivets and wood in the finish. We bring the kids along, and after a while perched on the too-high-for-toddlers benches, a table is cleared and we relocate them to some cushions on a windowsill, where they’re much more comfortable.
There are staff on the floor to make sure you’re seated in the cafe, and bring you menus, but it’s order and pay at the counter, and table numbers are handed out. Staff are patient and friendly with the crowded nature of the place: the tables-for-two err on the side of too small for one of the generous mains each and a side to share (though if you can finish that much food, you’re doing well).
The coffee setup is impressive: there’s a moccamaster behind the espresso machine, and a cold-drip rig (not running on the day I visit). Plenty of potential here as the staff find their feet over the next weeks and months.
Perhaps tellingly for how many espressos I’ve been having lately, I could tell how this one was going to taste. You can tell that the White Horse coffee beans has made the journey in one piece, but not all espressos are created equal: this one is a little too long, and the crema dissipates a little too fast.
Lots of potential here: looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
Official website: humber.bar
White Horse Coffee. 269 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul. What started out as a surfboard store has grabbed the shop next door and incorporated a cafe selling a mix of White Horse (espresso) and Coal (cold brew) coffee.
The emphasis is on coffee rather than food, though there are a few choices. The decor is simple – a feature has been made of the square tiles, and a few take-home items to buy (the wooden iPhone covers and cactus boxes are impressive little talking points.
The feature wall has a large diagram of how to disarm someone who is carrying a coffee: hopefully it’s a skill you don’t need to develop.
If you’re in the neighbourhood in search of a good coffee, this place delivers a pleasant short stay.
Central Roasters Coffee (and a range of single origins from different roasters). Shop 4, Central Lane, Sydney (near Pitt St, but essentially an unmarked shop in an alley). This is one you’ll only find if you know what you’re looking for. Central Lane runs from George St to Pitt St, opposite the giant Event Cinema complex. Head down the lane, and near the Pitt St end you’ll see some big windows and a glass door, and spot a small table with some water glasses, a cake display, and a selection of coffee-making gear.
Order a coffee or two from the counter, and if there’s a spot at one of the tables, take a seat. You’re in for a treat. They are making some great espresso-based coffees, and I’ve had there some of the best filter coffee in Sydney. Worth seeking out. Bring a friend, but not a crowd of people: they won’t all fit.
Various different coffees. 82 Market St, Wollongong. Follow them on instagram and you could be forgiven for thinking there’s an indoor cafe at play here, but in fact, this is a combination of shipping containers and portable furniture. Sadly there was too much full sun in play for us to linger too long, but the stay we had (sitting on astro-turfed cubes) was fun.
There are plenty of different single origins to try (and some simple advice on how to have your coffee that manages not to be condescending), but it was the pour over that won the day for me.
Great to see such passion for coffee in such a humble environment as a modified shipping container. Part of the emerging coffee scene in Wollongong, and well worth a visit. They even have brewnuts somehow (a daily round-trip to Newtown, I’m reliably informed)!
Wild Fox coffee. 142 Wenworth St, Port Kembla. There are a number of coffee roasters cropping up outside of Sydney, and this cafe first came up in conversation because of the roasters. More interesting, though, is the ownership and raison d’être of the cafe. It’s run by the Salvation Army as a way to give long-term unemployed people a set of skills they can build up to get back into the workforce.
There’s a lot of reclaimed timber in the fit-out, and a second hand bookshop with an enviable collection of books for very reasonable prices.
Coffee is well put together – certainly well above what you might hope for out of a cafe in Port Kembla, and would stand well on its own. There’s cold drip on offer, and a range of hot or cold espresso drinks. The menu is simple (sandwiches and wraps for the most part), but well put together. It’s a venture worth supporting.