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While Melbourne lays claim to being Australia’s capital of coffee, it seems its sister-city Sydney has been watching and learning from her relatives. From the ethical sourcing of beans to the final presentation, Sydney takes its coffee seriously, too. These are our pick of the best spots to drink it around the city.
Campos Coffee — Newtown and Alexandria
From its humble beginnings in the back streets of Newtown, Campos Coffee has become one of Australia’s leading premium coffee roasters (the Campos Superior Blend has been dubbed the “shiraz” of coffee). A strong supporter of ‘direct trade,’ all Campos coffee beans are bought straight from the coffee growers.
At the Newtown store, coffee lovers are invited to take a closer look at this selection process via workshops at the Cupping Room. (Held Tuesday to Saturday, booking is essential.)
The main draws at the Don Campos Alexandria outpost (in the same warehouse as brunch spot Bread & Circus) are the Slayer espresso machine and a siphon bar that serves only select grand cru single origin coffees.
Paramount Coffee Project — Surry Hills
Paramount Coffee Project is a collaboration between Reuben Hills’ Russell Beard and Mark Dundon of Melbourne’s Seven Seeds. As part of the project they rotate new beans and new roasters from around the world every four to six weeks — so there is always something different and fresh to discover.
Located in the foyer of a sophisticated Art Deco building, the café is accented by natural light, polished concrete, and timber tables. The food is American-inspired (think: sourdough with Reese’s Peanut Butter) and they make great cronuts, too (you’ll have to rise early on the weekends to get one though).
They also hold regular public cupping sessions with no bookings required. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for event announcements.
Toby’s Estate — Woolloomooloo
The renowned Toby’s Estate brand began life in the garage of owner Toby Smith’s mother’s house. In 2001, Toby moved out of his mum’s garage and the first Toby’s Estate Café, Espresso School and Roastery opened in Woolloomooloo, Sydney.
Today you will see Toby’s name all over the city — stamped on coffee cups, awnings, and parasols at the various cafés that proudly stock his beans. Toby’s commitment to social, ethical, and environmental issues is a strong focus among the entire Toby’s Estate team — his actual estate is an award-winning, sustainable coffee farm in Panama, which provides the beans for all his stockists.
In a sunny spot in Woolloomooloo, the Toby’s Estate Signature Café features friendly staff and a wide range of Toby’s Estate products, which are presented in front of very apt coffee-themed wallpaper.
Sensory Lab — Bondi
The limited food menu and stark décor of Sensory Lab lets you know that this place is all about the coffee. Part of the Melbourne-born St Ali Coffee family, Sensory Lab is widely regarded to be the best place to buy coffee in Bondi.
The café’s décor certainly stands out amongst the more surf-style cafés of the neighbourhood — most of the Sensory Lab’s seating is facing the kiosk of coffee apparatus.
Quirky lab-like branding is continued throughout all products, with tea also sold in Sensory Lab science beakers.
Brewtown Newtown — Newtown
Simon Triggs and Charles Cameron, who met while working at Toby’s Estate, have turned a 20th century store in Newtown into a coffee, cake, and retail hotspot known as Brewtown Newtown. Once again the focus for their coffee is fair trade with beans being bought direct from the farmers, including those who work at Finca Santa Teresa — the Toby’s Estate farm in Panama.
The top floor of the building features a retail space selling artisan goods and baked treats. People queue for a taste of their glazed cronut collection, which are 100% worth the wait in our humble, hungry opinion.
Buzzed for more Sydney? Check out our Sydney city tours and get the scoop on the local scene.