sydney cafes

Top 5 Cafes In Sydney

Australia is often known as the land down under and Sydney, Australia’s beautiful capital city. There are so many places to explore in this great country of ours, but if you’re looking for a place that has just the right amount of culture without being overwhelming- these cafes are perfect for you!

Sydney’s cafes are recognised around the world, and it’s easy to see why. We have former fine-dining chefs in kitchens, fit-outs from recognisable interior designers and some of the best roasters and baristas there are. And don’t forget the efficient yet friendly service that’s gained attention in New York and many other cities.

Sydney is the city of cafes. It has been known for its coffee culture, and it’s no surprise that there are hundreds of cafes in Sydney. From trendy to more traditional, there is a cafe out there for everyone! 

This blog post brings you our favourite five cafes across Sydney – from North to South East. Hopefully, you will find your new favourite spot amongst them!

The standard is exceptionally high wherever you look, but Sydney’s best cafes stand out, regardless of criteria. Their progressive, well-executed menus are edging towards restaurant quality. Their fit-outs are considered beautiful. 

And beyond just using locally roasted coffee or roasting it themselves, they understand how to get the best out of their beans across espresso, filter and every other brewing method. Lastly, these all-rounders have the service and ambience to match.

So, whether it’s a reward for tackling one of Sydney’s most beautiful walks, a quick caffeinated catch-up, an indulgent hangover fixer after a night at one of the city’s best bars, or a workday coffee stop, these are the five best Sydney cafés you’ve been looking for. 

Sydney One Another Cafe

1. One Another

One Another isn’t a destination cafe. There’s no elaborately stacked French toast creations for your Instagram, no poke bowls, açaí, matcha or stuffed croissants either. There are no copper pipes or exposed brick walls, and the menu doesn’t have a mission statement.

Instead, it’s got fresh fruit juices, bacon and egg rolls, malted milkshakes, a poached chicken sandwich and eggs on toast. And everything is under $20. In other words, this is a local cafe – although a highly high-quality one.

There’s a collection of cookbooks on a shelf at the back of this unassuming corner café with some pretty big names – David Chang, Bill Granger, Fergus Henderson and the Larousse Gastronomique among them. 

It makes an excellent decorative statement in the narrow, primarily unadorned room, but it also clues you into the fact that the crew in the compact open kitchen here has done some homework. 

It’s worth opting for something a little more tricked-up here because there’s detail and nuance in this food. A triumphant dish starring flowering cauliflower presents a riot of flavours and textures: crunchy stalks, soft florets, unctuous egg yolk, chickpea pangritata, truffled pecorino cheese, a swipe of judiciously seasoned white bean purée and potatoes fried to impressively delicate crispness. 

The bacon and egg roll is made with bacon from Tablelands Premier Meats from central-west NSW, and the bread is from Providence or Nonie’s (for gluten-free). Shane Roberts, the veg merchant who supplies Mecca, Pizza Madre and Cornersmith, provides the cauliflower in the barley, currant and almond salad, and the pumpkin served with the orange and hummus salad.

It wouldn’t be out of place next to a glass of something natural at a noteworthy wine bar, and neither would the picnic-chic salad of hot-smoked ocean trout that appears once the five lunch options kick in at 11 am. Don’t get too attached to your new favourite brunch dish, though – the menu changes almost fortnightly.

Much like the cooking, the place itself has a laidback polish that never feels overworked. Sunlight streams in through a series of windows, highlighting features like the communal table’s lovingly sanded recycled timber top, vases of natives and spotted gum parquetry that lines the kitchen pass and front counter. 

There’s a confidence that comes across in the entire operation that gives you the sense that owners Mitchell Antman and Louis Spangaro know what they’re doing, but they’re not eager to rub it in your face.

Coffee is roasted by Sample, and the bean quality shines just as brightly in an oat-milk piccolo as it does in a long black. Tea Craft supplies the leaves, and the kitchen team bakes every tempting pastry in the display case up front (minus the croissants, which are from Dust). 

The coffee is from Sample, and just about everything else (the milkshake syrups, the cured bonito and the granola) is made by owners Mitchell Antman and Louis Spangaro-McAllen.

The warehouse-in-a-previous-life has been transformed into a bright, window-filled venue stacked with simple timber furniture (some of which the owners built with reclaimed timber) on one side and a long open-air kitchen and bar on the other.

In a city full of cafés that sacrifice substance for style, all too ready for their Instagram close-up, One Another is the real thing: that elusive, earnest, #nofilter neighbourhood spot that nails it.

sydney edition coffee roasters haymarket

2. Edition Coffee Roasters Haymarket

Scandinavia and Japan are half a world apart, but Edition Coffee Roasters combines the two cultures seamlessly. The brand has had a few short- and long-lived locations around Sydney. This is now the sole location, after the original in Darlinghurst closed in October 2018.

When it comes to café breakfasts, Sydney is a hard town to impress. But when Edition Coffee Roasters opened their light, bright Japano-Nordic café in Darlinghurst, it rocketed to the top of everyone’s brunch bucket list with fine-dining inflected dishes like the mushroom pond, inspired by a talk at Noma and featuring consommé, udon noodles, mushrooms, and crème fraîche.

It’s also leaning more heavily on the Japanese half of the concept. Sure, you can get open sandwiches (smorrebrod) on malty, chewy rye that they bake in-house.

 As far as smugly beautiful lunches go, your plate of three slices topped with sweet chunks of butter-poached prawn meat just fastened to the bread with a yuzu kosho buttermilk dressing is the one to beat. Dill and fresh apple keep it light, and an extra allotment of seafaring credentials in an amber sprinkle of salty flying fish roe.

From here, the menu steers into more recognisable Japanese territory. Students slope in wearing hoodies for a pork katsu burger anchored by the sharp twang of miso and a bright yuzu coleslaw; business folk from nearby highrises whip through for a bento, but it’s those who have time to slide down into the open seats lining the windows and commit to the 20-minute wait for the soufflé pancake who will triumph. 

Whipped to within an inch of its life, risen in the oven like a phoenix and served with a vanilla and white chocolate ganache and strawberries, this outrageously wobbling dessert wearing three Michelin Man rolls is not quite what it seems. Instead of a high glycemic sugar rush, it has fallen closer to the soufflé tree, with a gently sweet egginess that registers as rich but not heavy.

Of course, if you don’t have time to sit down, a coffee here will transport you to a place far from the new business precinct in the time it takes you to drink your DIY macchiato (they let you add your own milk). 

The Costa Rican beans result in a brew that balances acidity and sweetness so perfectly they conjure the flavour of a toffee apple in your cup. Not into rocket fuel first thing? They’re making an A-grade chai and their own genmaicha tea.

The menu features takeaway bento boxes and OK dining-inspired mains and desserts. Try Scandinavian-style open sandwiches with prawns, but with a twist. A pork-katsu burger comes on a house-made milk bun; XO chicken melts in the mouth, and lamb is glazed with miso and roasted for 12 hours. 

To finish, there’s Japanese pancakes and matcha, yuzu and vegan chocolate dessert. Miso dark chocolate cookies – a take on the classic cinnamon bun – are a favourite. Stick around on Friday nights for natural wine and wine bar-style food such as whipped cod roe, Wagyu tartare and hiramasa kingfish with nori vinaigrette.

The team selects single origin/estate green beans on the coffee side and roast them for batch brew, pour-over, aero-press, Japanese drip and cold brew. The selection of teas includes Chung Feng jasmine from China and Gyokuro sourced from Japan.

The clientele is a mix of university students, tourists, residents in the surrounding apartment blocks, and some two thousand people who work in the nearby Commonwealth Bank offices. The site features dark timber and rustic exposed beams, with room for 60 people.

The two Edition Coffee Roasters go hand in hand, but they are siblings, not twins. One is the light, bright Scandinavian hangout you visit on your weekend; the other is the sleek, fast brewing city slicker in designer blacks. Both are very good, but Haymarket has the pancake, so that’s why we’ll be going back as often as our pancreas allows us to order dessert for breakfast.

Sydney Circa Espresso Cafe

3. Circa Espresso

Is it a garage sale? Is it a tiny art gallery? No! It’s the entrance to Parramatta’s famous café, Circa Espresso. For the three of you in Sydney who haven’t heard of it, this narrow space has been exemplifying café excellence since 2010.

Circa is another spot where you’ll find some of the best coffee on offer well outside of the CBD or inner west.

It’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall cafe, but don’t be deceived. Wander past the bustling entrance with the barista on the show, and you’ll be greeted by a long, slim cafe that stretches past the tiny kitchen to a backroom nook. It’s full of knick-knacks and trinkets that echo libraries, museums and science labs past. 

Mock windows frame mock views, copper pipes line the walls, and warm plywood panelling abounds. But it’s not the eclectic décor that people flock here for – it’s the roasted coffee in-house and served double ristretto style (best enjoyed with milk). 

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the full-page tea menu, the refined coffee program, real-deal baked goods or the go-to, destination-worthy dish of Ottoman Eggs – people here have worked hard to ensure the options are all killer, no filler. 

Owner Aykut Sayan is still here, front and centre – cheerfully greeting customers, running coffees out to tables, checking in with the chefs – and it feels like you’re a guest in his home. The shop’s layout places you in the middle of a narrow room amongst the (tiny) open kitchen and coffee bar. 

As you sit back and watch your whole order being prepared, soak in the old-timey paintings, posters, books and artefacts that line every wall. Don’t forget to clock those ornate ceiling fans above you, too. If you venture to the back of the space, you’ll find a quiet booth for a romantic date or a less romantic business meeting.

Circa’s menu is seasonal but always steered by flavours and textures of the Middle East. As a result, we’re talking about hearty, restaurant-level dishes at around $20 a plate. Value. Yes, you’re getting an extraordinary deal, especially considering the effort that goes into each component. 

Halloumi and cauliflower fritters are the opposite of mushy and come thin as a 50-cent piece and crisp as a $50 note. A crunchy nest of greens and radishes waits, ready to catch a perfectly runny egg yolk, whilst poppy seeds dance with the cheese like it’s their wedding day. 

Is it worth giving those much-hyped Ottoman Eggs a go? The answer is a resounding yes – the dish is deserving of its legendary status. But, again, it’s all about the textures here. 

A golden disc of eggplant acts as a freakishly crunchy stage for an award-winning ensemble of rich garlic labneh, shreds of leek and crisp sage leaves. Then, it’s drenched in beurre noisette and served with chunks of fragrant homemade focaccia. It’s a lot. You can handle it.

Circa roasts and retails its own coffee beans (house blend and single origins), so it’s safe to say they nail it on that front. Milk coffees are rich and balanced, beautifully presented and speedy. Filter coffee is a drawcard here, with several variations available on the menu. The hot brew is crystal clear with sparkling jasmine florals – the kind of thing that would convince somebody to quit the dairy. 

Just like the food, drinks are seasonal, too. For cold months, that equates to something like a warming shrub of rhubarb, pear and date – a tart, firm and nourishingly sweet brew poured at your table just for you, you lucky thing. It’s so comforting; it could soothe the caffeine-wary into an afternoon nap.

Ten years is way past the life expectancy of your average café. So at this ripe old age, it’d be pretty understandable if the spark had died a little. But no way, Circa still roars, thanks to understated elegance and mastery of flavour.

Sydney Rising Sun Workshop Cafe

4. Rising Sun Workshop

That ancient Mitre Ten store behind the discount chemist on King Street is the home of Rising Sun Workshop, Sydney’s first communal motorbike workshop and ramen bar. As a pop-up on Lennox Street, it did ramen for lunch and dinner. Now chef Nick Smith has a good kitchen and more seats.

We need to talk about breakfast ramen. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Rising Sun Workshop – half motorcycle workshop and half café – has just opened in Newtown, and it’s serving food with a Japanese bent. 

The breakfast ramen, in particular, is such a good idea that our heads hurt a little from the excitement. It’s a beautiful big bowl of rich, fatty broth made from an infusion of buttered toast, topped with springy, firm noodles made exclusively for Rising Sun Workshop to their own recipe.

 The whole lot is topped with a just-set onsen egg, shards of crisp bacon and a charred tomato – the savoury, umami depth of which is a strike of pure genius. 

The broth is perfect by itself, but as soon as those stock-absorbing noodles get involved, it turns out it could do with a bit more seasoning to balance it all out. But really, we’re just splitting hairs – this is just a gorgeous way to wake up in the morning.

The Prison Bento is more delicate than its name suggests. It comes in a steel thali-tray with little sections for each element. So there’s a pile of sticky rice with sour, salty pickled umeboshi plum, silken tofu with shoyu, a selection of crunchy pickles (radish, cucumber, daikon and carrot), tamagoyaki (dashi rolled egg omelette), which is light and not as sweet as that which you get in Japan, yogurt sprinkled with nigella seeds that the waiter tells us he ate in Tokyo, a piece of just-cooked Ulladulla albacore tuna ($5 extra) and a metal cup of robust, deliciously salty miso. It’s the kind of food you eat in Japan: a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and it’s a joy to eat.

Breakfast includes furikake (a dry Japanese seasoning) rice with pickles, sprouts and nuts; Hokkaido milk buns stuffed with egg, cheese and a kimchee slaw; and a “breakfast ramen” with buttered-toast broth, bacon, egg and tomato.

For dinner, Smith’s non-traditional yakitori skewers are joined by the occasional off-menu dinner special, dubbed the “secret dinner ramen”.

It’s a beautiful space: an open kitchen and coffee bar downstairs with the motorbikes (and requisite bikers) off one side, fiddling away. Upstairs there are a few long tables and a comfy-looking Chesterfield. We get brilliant service from our waitress, Rebecca – the kind of service where they sit down to chat with you as if they have all the time in the world and aren’t, you know, working.

On Rebecca’s recommendation, we decided to finish breakfast with cake – and we’re so glad we made that life choice. The carrot cake is stuffed with cream cheese frosting infused with nutty burnt butter, which beautifully plays off the coconut in the cake. 

Chocolate cookies are sturdy rather than soft and are studded with glacé ginger. But our pick has to be the Breton pastry (otherwise known as a kouign-Amann): it’s like a croissant has been shaped into a cinnamon scroll and then caramelised all over. 

We tear off crisp, buttery shards and dip them into our smooth, chocolate Single Origin coffee (try the house chai if coffee isn’t your thing) and are happier than you’ve ever seen us. This is a café we will come back to, again and again. No motorcycle is required.

Motorcycle repairs go on nearby – the cafe sits on a raised platform right next to the workshop. The building has two storeys, an upper mezzanine that looks into the kitchen and the motorcycle workshop. 

It’s a simple but clever design from architect and co-owner Heleana Genaus, with many heritage elements maintained, impressive considering Rising Sun’s DIY, part-crowdfunded build.

The bike workshop works via memberships and hourly bookings. The rates are kept low because of the cafe and bar. So for every coffee, cookie and bowl of noodles eaten, you’re helping someone else access the workspace.

Sydney Reuben Hills Cafe

5. Reuben Hills

When Russell Beard sold The Source in Mosman and opened Reuben Hills in 2012, he wanted to make coffee approachable to anyone interested in learning.

Downstairs, among exposed cement walls and long tables, various filters and brewing tools litter the benchtops. Each waits patiently for curious customers to start a conversation about what it does.

At this new Surry Hills café, they’re doing a salt caramel milkshake and a brothel sandwich. You heard us. “The idea for the menu was to offer our customers food that we eat or are given while on coffee travels,” says owner Russell Beard. “Our menu is not coffee origin exclusive. We have a slider on this weekend that is named after one of the brothels a couple of doors up,”

Before opening Reuben Hills, Beard used to have a café called the Source in Mosman, one of the best places to get coffee on the north shore. The ample open space opens up with a roller door out the back, and an unassuming shopfront with a couple of wooden stools out the front on Albion Street, just down the road from Chefs’ Warehouse. 

Please take a seat at the blue-tiled communal table out the back and check out the hot floor staff as they serve up some of the area’s best coffee. They roast the beans themselves, sourced from Beard’s trips to El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Colombia and Costa Rica.

Try a baleada while you’re here. 

Here, the Honduras dish is a tortilla filled-then-folded with black beans for the veggies or pulled pork for the carnies. It’s a significant number and will most likely keep you going all day. 

This incredibly excellent café also does a great ‘Not Reuben’ sandwich (actually a steak sandwich with sauerkraut). But really, it’s all about the Dogg’s Breakfast – a Monaco Bar-like ice-cream sandwich accompanied by a pool of salted dulce de leche. Breakfast dessert just got bananas.

On the mezzanine level, beans are roasted for use downstairs and sold wholesale throughout Sydney. And those customers who are genuinely keen to learn about the process are invited to a public cupping (tasting) session every Saturday morning.

Beard and head roaster Nick Theodore have travelled all over the world, developing relationships with coffee farmers. These partnerships allow them to constantly bring new beans to Sydney and give back to the communities, developing infrastructure and educational programs overseas.

The menu is made up of dishes adapted from the regions where the beans are grown. That means mostly South American fare, with a twist to better satiate the Australian palate, including the famous fried chicken and the NOT Reuben sandwich (Wagyu brisket, pickled slaw, manchego and horseradish mayo on rye).

As beans from new regions make their way to the roaster upstairs, flavours inspired by these same regions make their way onto the menu, including dishes from all over Central and South America and Africa.

Even though Reuben Hills is relatively new, they’re already making a roaring trade. How could you lose with friendly staff working the floor, tasty snacks on the menu and great coffee?

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