February 23, 2012

Sydney, the Caffeinated Wait is Over

In the current weeks leading up to the biggest café show in the nation, Café Biz, my team and I have had the exciting opportunity to visit many of Sydney’s favourite café and coffee haunts. What was impressive to me, was that Sydney is starting to blossom in its café culture and the different approach to café hospitality. Melbourne has long been leading the charge over the last ten years in café design and innovation and Sydney is now quickly catching up with some clever new café concepts, especially the food service innovations. I have put together a quick geographical café plan if you have a spare few days to cruise the Sydney streets looking for some cool café life styling.

The latest new comer is Dose Espresso, in the leafy streets of Willoughby. The well known barista king Sam Gabrielian has created a bustling coffee concept with espresso bar and in house roaster. The fit-out is very cool with graffiti art complimenting the designer fixtures. Sam has a hand painted slayer mounted on a timber workbench just for all the water based espresso shots. Another nice new conceptual café roastery is “Bean Drinking” in Crows Nest. The owner, English gent Keith Reay has built his business around unique brewing concepts and has pushed down the barriers letting coffee geeks have a field day in this coffee based business. Keith is an agent for the Japanese brewing equipment Hario and is an expert in hand drip coffees. Other cafes in this north Sydney area worth a visit are Forsyth Coffee and the new chain of in-house roasting cafes called Charlie Lovett. Still north of the harbour you can visit Karmee Coffee in Artarmon who have been behind the Sydney coffee quality revolution, pushing for high levels of product and service.

Crossing back over the bridge into Sydney’s CBD you have all the iconic cafes such as Mecca, Vivo Espresso and Workshop Espresso who are caffeine machines punching out huge volumes to the coffee hungry city workers. Owner of Vivo Espresso, Angela Vithoulkas can serve over 1000 full service customers a day in this Greek family business right in the centre of busy George Street.

The southern end of the city around Surry Hills has a few new players emerging with the likes of Reuben Hills, a new roasting with café and espresso bar. This coffee concept is built around a restored warehouse and the café also combines a pretty impressive food menu, which will give many high end restaurants something to look up too. Other neighbouring hot spots are Single Origin, Le Monde and the new Di Bella Roasting House. Phil Di Bella has excelled himself with this latest gem, offering great food and coffee with theatre.

Head towards the east and you can visit iconic cafes like Bar Coluzzi in Darlinghurst or the original Toby’s Estate espresso bar in Woolloomooloo. Café Tropicana is still worth a visit during their busy breakfast shift. Melbourne boys from Ducale are building a playroom for their Sydney customers in Potts Point called The DC Laundry. A little further east towards Bondi you will find coffee business Di Bartolli at Bondi Junction. They will appease your inner coffee snob with their great range of coffee tools and home equipment. A new café in Bondi beach called Bondi Picnic is the latest hot spot for breaky. I still like Jed’s Place, Speedo’s and Gusto for good local beach service and great consistent brews.

Heading south west of the city stop in City Road, Broadway for a shot at Toby’s Estate coffee roasting warehouse before you hit the inner suburbs of Newtown, which is the home of Campos Coffee. The Missenden Road hole in the wall espresso bar is steeped in history and the starting point of the Campos success story. Annandale is now home to cool places like Little Marionette, a business that appeases the inner city residents. Campos has also created Don Campos a block away in Alexandra, which serves excellent coffee within the renovated factory space, which also has some pretty funky food businesses as neighbours. Mr Espresso is a southwest Sydney chain that is starting to make some major impact with their consistent quality service and unique fresh roasted coffee from a wood fired roaster.

The inner west of Sydney is going crazy especially in Marickville with Coffee Alchemy running as Sydney’s latest top performing business with owners Hazel and Clare at the helm. Around the corner new player Double Roasters are doing a great job also with their Probat roaster.

Way out west in down town Strathfield, Primo have opened their Di Stefano Coffee Warehouse Café and Deli with training facility, showcasing their large roasting capability and Italian deli supply business. Another sexy looking western coffee business that is turning heads is the Coffee Emporium which has taken over many of the western Sydney shopping centre prime locations. Gloria Jeans Coffee has just launched its new concept store at the Norwest Shopping Centre, which features the new design for future GJ stores. They are even playing around with hand brewing equipment. If you really stray west to Emu Plains, Morgan’s Coffee is still one of the innovators of coffee roasting and chocolate manufacturing.

Sydney still boasts some of the best beaches in the world so where there is great surf spots you will find lots of people and good cafes. Cronulla has a great café strip and cool cafes like Grind Espresso and 5th Season. A nice beach side café is The Nuns Pool, a cafe with no expense on its fit out location, location!

Big players on Sydney’s Northern Beaches are Danes Coffee and Belaroma Coffee roasters who have dominated in this area for over 20 years. Cool cafes are Newport’s Brother Albert and Manly’s 3 Bean who are playing the right game for a nice coastal suburb.

A quick summary of Sydney cafes; they are becoming a lot more quality coffee focused and steering away from a very price conscious market that has been driven by a competitive CBD.
Sydney has some great restaurants with excellent chefs and some of their prodigies are stepping into the café world. Sydney cafes are outdoors businesses and you will find the better café strips on the numerous beach and harbour front locations with plenty to choose from.

We have only scraped the surface with the cafes we visited and we look forward to exploring more before our 2012 Café Biz expo at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney. If you are flying in for Café Biz 2012 give yourself a few extra days to explore and enjoy Sydney’s emerging café scene. Sydney geographically is a big place so you may need to drive to some of these areas.

Dose Espresso – Willoughby
Bean Drinking – Crows Nest
Charlie Lovetts – Crows Nest
Forsyth Coffee – Willoughby
Karmee Coffee – Artarmon
Mecca Café – CBD
Workshop Cafe – CBD
Vivo Espresso – CBD
Single Origin – Surry Hills
Reuben Hills – Surry Hills
Le Monde – Surry Hills
Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse – Surry Hills
Bar Coluzzi – Darlinghurst
Tropicana- Darlinghurst
Toby’s Estate Coffee – Broadway and Woolloomooloo
DC Laundry – Potts Point
Di Bartoli – Bondi Junction
Jed’s Place – Bondi Beach
Bondi Picnic – Bondi Beach
Gusto – Bondi Beach
Speedo’s – Bondi Beach
Campos Coffee – Newtown and Alexandria
Little Marionette – Annandale
Mr Espresso – Botany
Coffee Alchemy – Marrickville
Double Roaster- Marrickville
Primo Coffee – Strathfield
Coffee Emporium – Bankstown
Gloria Jeans Coffee – Norwest
Morgan’s Coffee – Emu Plains
Grind Espresso – Cronulla
Nuns Pool – Cronulla
5th Season – Cronulla
Danes Coffee – Brookvale
Bellaroma – Manlyvale
3 Beans – Manly
Brother Albert – New Port

Press release 23-2- 2011
Author – Mr Café Biz – Sean Edwards

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