Roastworks coffee. 212 Devonshire St, Surry Hills. In what was once a “sly grog shop” in prohibition-era Sydney is a relaxed, elegantly appointed cafe with a menu that it at once simple and fancy.
My decaf long black has great crema (it’s ground to order), and the jaffle – duck and chestnut is delicious: the familiar over-hot at first, easing back to toasted sandwich perfection that makes the waffle such a childhood throw-back favourite.
If you’re peckish, and looking for a fancy take on a classic, it’s worth a visit.
Seven Seeds, Reuben Hills, and a variety of other coffees. 80 Commonwealth Ave, Surry Hills. I’ve been avoiding this one for a while as they’re not really into decaf, and I’ve been trying to find a balance between low caffeine intake and exploring different coffees.
I buckled, and – seeing from the Paramount Coffee Project Facebook page that the shop was open for coffee, but not yet open for food – it seemed the perfect day for a visit. The entryway is a little low-key, but once you step inside, you can tell immediately you’re in the right place.
Tip for beginners, don’t sit at this bench which is physically connected to the grinders they use for pour-over coffee – the bench vibrates quite a bit, and you’ll feel sheepish given the wide variety of other seating options.
Across the way is the espresso side of the business and the kitchen: if the pour over (an Esmeralda) I had is any indication, there is spectacular coffee to be had here. The staff are highly knowledgeable without being condescending, and there’s a level of passion for coffee here that is everything you could hope for. A worthy part of any self-respecting coffee tour of Sydney.
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Single Origin Roasters coffee. 357 Cleveland St, Surry Hills. Adjacent to a garden shop is this cafe – a mix of indoor and outdoor seating that’s busy for most of its opening time.
As you can see from the surrounds of the coffee machine, there’s a lot going on here. A mix of food offerings, flowers, knick-knacks, but still plenty of room to place orders at the counter and work the EFTPOS machine.
They’re keen on local, sustainable produce. While I’ve only tried the ham and cheese muffin thus far, it was well put together, and suggests that the remainder of the menu will be equally polished. There are certainly plenty of favourable reviews of their food online.
Coffee too is good – they do a mean decaf long black that’s worth saving on the long walk back towards Central.
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Little Marionette coffee. 344 Bourke St, Surry Hills. Come for the pushbikes, stay for the coffee and the service. This place, with seating for around 20 people, adjoins a beautiful bike shop that – if you have the cash on you – may convince you to embrace the lifestyle of the cyclist.
Coffee – ground to order – is really good. Staff are friendly, and the service is prompt.
Single Origin Roasters coffee. 500 Crown St, Surry Hills. I’ve long wanted to have a look at this place, but had the sense that it was mostly for lunch or dinner. After seeing their stall at Eveleigh Markets, though, I realised that breakfast was an option, and so went to visit.
Looking at the menu, some of the mains are in the mid-$30 range: as a result, the decor is suitably high brow. This corner is the “espresso bar” and the rest of the place is the main restaurant, with even more upmarket place settings.
The food is incredibly good: it feels a little pricey when you read the menu, and the portions are a little small, but it’s so tasty that you’ll be satisfied anyway.
The bircher muesli is topped with a seedless, tea-infused prune.
A great combination of flavours and textures – poached eggs, roasted tomatoes, frisée lettuce and chorizo on sourdough.
An ultra-spicy virgin mary – ask them to dilute it for you with extra tomato juice!
The decaf is really pleasant: it’s a little nutty at first, and the milkwork is really smooth. It’s better in the drink-in configuration: – the takeaway I had was a little less stand-out.
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Official bird cow fish website.
Robocog coffee. 249 Riley St, Surry Hills. A relative newcomer to the Surry Hills scene, this place nonetheless has their service patterns down pat, and the place is well decorated to become a local favourite. The name is a combination (presumably) of robot and bicycle cog, and the decor features both in suitable numbers. The various kitsch old robots are great to look at, and the hipper-than-average crowd do their best to ignore it.
The theme is carried out all the way to the tips jar:
And this little piece on the wall.
The coffee, though, is really pleasant. Though the decaf is not ground-to-order, it has a fresh, lively taste. Great milk-work (and, despite a lack of child-friendliness in the seating and the attitudes of the patrons), they do a mean babycino.
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Golden Cobra coffee (Timothy Dalton blend decaf). 31 Oxford St, Surry Hills. How many times have I walked past here and not noticed it?!
Walk in past the licenced bar and coffee machine and your seating choice is green vinyl clad booths – if you prefer, there are a couple of ordinary tables at the front of the cafe.
There’s a big collection of vinyl records on display, and an old record player is playing the kind of tracks that wouldn’t be out of place in the film "High Fidelity".
Coffee is promptly made, and – though there’s no decaf grinder in sight – the beans appear to be ground on site at some stage. It’s a fresh tasting, smooth cup with a complex aftertaste: straw and caramel.
The meals are really well made too: from the specials board was this burger with fries ($15).
A really relaxed place to spend time. Highly recommended. Unsurprised to find that this cafe is the work of (former “Well Connected” owner Jack Sheen).
Five senses coffee (their own blend). 83 Foveaux St, Surry Hills. It’s been over two years since I last reviewed this place, and so when I received a couple of emails from the cafe about the changes that had taken place there, I felt I had to return to see what had happened. Inside, the place looks much as I remember it, but their menu has improved, and their coffee – wow!
A set of shelves behind the coffee-making area of the cafe show off a rich variety of tools for brewing coffee, and a blackboard leaning against the coffee machine talks about the single origin of the day: clearly they are serious about every aspect of their coffee making.
The decaf is really great: it’s sweet, with a hint of vanilla. Certainly holds its head high in Surry Hills, if not in Sydney.
The food menu is creative, too: there’s a $25 breakfast tasting plate (for two people) that I’m hoping to try someday (let me know if you’d like to come with me), but on this particular day, I try the scrambled egg muffin with basil and parmesan: some great flavours, and a level of creativity above the basic bacon-and-egg roll that is more common on a breakfast menu.
If you find yourself at Central station with some time to spare, make the journey up here: you won’t be disappointed.
Little Marionnette coffee. 547 Bourke St, Surry Hills. This unassuming place looks far better on the inside, but perhaps this is the point. A hub for the nearby community, you’ll see people gathered on the milk crates and outside steps, and people coming and going – dropping in for a coffee, or for a bite to eat.
The food is all provided by Black Star Pastry, and is at their usual high standard. I can personally vouch for the lamb shank pie ($7) with side salad (+$3).
They take their coffee seriously too – with Lee at the helm (Remy is short for Jeremy, and he is absent on the day I visit), it’s a case of simple, elegant coffee served hot (perhaps a little too hot), and the decaf is ground to order.
Caffe Di Gabrielle. Shop 13, 425 Bourke St, Surry Hills. Lots of natural light from the giant glass walls: outdoor seating is on stools, with plenty of space heaters if you need them. A mixed crowd of well-to-do inner city dwellers sample coffees and pastries (the chocolate brownies seem especially popular). The pastries, which look really impressive, appear to be made on site.
Decaf is ground to order. Sweet, slightly earthy decaf latte. If you’re in the neighbourhood, drop in.