the little marionette, balmain

Little Marionette Coffee. 1A Booth St, Balmain.

Across the road from Gladstone park, if you’re lucky you can find a parking spot just across the road. Though not a large cafe, it manages to fit a couple of bookshelves on the wall, giving that welcoming sense of a second hand bookshop. Indeed, locals sit enjoying the atmosphere reading the paper, or books that they have brought.

Coffee is deservedly well-reputed. The decaf is rich, with a strong, slightly sweet flavour, with a lingering aftertaste. Well worth a visit, just for the coffee.

poppy’s cafe, balmain

Artecaffe Coffee. 487 Darling St, Balmain

The outdoor seating is the first thing that strikes you when you approach here: a mix of locals from different walks of life sit chatting and enjoying coffees and the all-day breakfast. Step inside (and you’ll have to – it’s order and pay at counter) and there are a number of large wooden tables where people are sharing – there’s a sense of community gathering here. The prices are quite reasonable for balmain; the scrambled eggs with sourdough is only $9.50, with sides at $2, $3 or $4. If you’re not after a big breakfast, there are a good range of toast options – even a raisin brioche.

The decaf here is pleasant enough: nothing amazing, but quite a good complement to the rest of the experience here.

Stir café, balmain

Allpress espresso coffee. 354 darling st, balmain. A green colourbond fence surrounds a paved courtyard with its funky wooden chairs, and black-painted wooden tables.

Staf are friendly, they even come to the table and pour your water for you, with a slice of lemon in the glass: above the call of duty.

The decaf is good – $5 gets you a bowl latte with four shots of coffee: it’s a monster, but it’s good drinking.

Bertoni’s casalinga, balmain

Belcafe coffee. Somehow this place is crowded and friendly at once. Communal table, against a wall, surrounded with different people all going about their morning rituals. Mostly magazine reading.

Coffee is made enthusiastically, but there are a few people ahead of me in the queue. Without asking, a glass of water arrives with my coffee – always a welcome gesture. Coffee is thick and strong, a good temperature for easy drinking. There’s an aftertaste that I can’t quite place, but in general, a good experience.