One of the first things Australians say to me when they found out I am from the States is “American coffee sucks”. It gets even worse when they discover that I’m from Seattle, the home of Starbucks. But, to be fair, the Starbucks in Sydney is not very good or even passable. Not sure why this is but I would not recommend it especially when Sydney has some great cafes to explore and discover.
Below is a list of my favourite cafes in Sydney.
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Bill & Toni 74 Stanley Street, Sydney City (02) 9360 4702
Bill Chiappini purchased this cafe & restaurant in 1964. Staying true to his Sicilian background every coffee at Bill & Toni’s is reminiscent of old Italian piazzas and market places. At Bill & Toni’s you will hear mostly Italian spoken during the early afternoon and late mornings after the working crowd has picked up their flat whites and cappuccinos. This is an authentic Italian cafe with crazy cheap food prices if you happen to be hungry.
Book Kitchen 255 Devonshire St Surry Hills
This cafe/restaurant/book shop is all about being organic from the coffee to the food served. On the breakfast menu you’ll find biodynamic eggs, home-made passion fruit butter and blood orange marmalade. The only fish served here is line-caught. The coffee here is excellent and should not be rushed but enjoyed while relaxing and watching the business of Surry Hills pass by.
Cafe Hernandez 60 Kings Cross Potts Point (02) 9331 2343
Cafe Hernandez roast high quality coffee on site, a wonderful smell in the morning. A true coffee shop that is open late plus has wonderful service. A great place to take a break from the chaos of Kings Cross.
Coluzzi Bar 322 Victoria Street Darlinghurst (02) 9380 5420
Coluzzi Bar is a Darlinghurst institution. One if the most authentic Italian coffee shops in the city. In fact I would venture a guess and say that more of the patrons at Coluzzi speak Italian and are of Italian heritage than Australian. Sitting at one of the tables and sipping on a coffee you’ll feel like you’re at a small neighbourhood cafe in Rome.
The Commons 32 Burton Street Darlinghurst (02) 9358 1487
Better known as a restaurant & bar, but during the day it’s a perfect hidden neighbourhood cafe. If you’re in Darlinghurst and are looking for a quiet place to get a cup of coffee you can’t do better than The Commons. The outdoor seating is just off the street and usually empty during the day.
Epi D’or Espresso 11/3 Bligh Street Kirribilli (02) 9922 5613
There are a few things you must do while in Sydney. The first is tour the Opera House and the second is walk across the Harbour Bridge. Once on the other side, take a rest at Epi D’or Espresso. The coffee is wonderful and there is a great selection of sweets and pastries to give you that boost of energy to get back to Circular Quay.
Four Ate Five 485 Crown Street Surry Hills (02) 9698 6485
The rumour around Sydney is that Four Ate Five serves the best coffee in the whole city. I’m not one to disagree. But it’s not all about coffee at Four Ate Five. The food is exceptional and the fresh juices are amazing, try a pineapple mint juice, very refreshing on a hot day.
Klink Espresso 281 Clarence St Sydney City (04) 1511 8505
This is one of my favourite small cafes in the city. This hole it the wall coffee shop serves up some of the best coffee in the city. It’s very small though so get your coffee, grab a pastry and head off to Hyde Park only three and half block away.
Lindt Cafe 53 Martin Place Sydney City (02) 8257 1600
Coffee and chocolate are made for each other. The perfect pair. And Lindt Cafe is the perfect place to enjoy some of each. If you dare try one of the hot chocolates, there is usually a seasonal flavour available. My absolute favourite is the Hazelnut Hot Chocolate. The Lindt Cafe at Martin Place averages 400 hot chocolates a day if that give you an idea of how good they are. Not up for a hot chocolate? Well the coffee here is good too and consistent amongst all the Lindt Cafes. Something I can’t say about the Starbucks in Sydney.
Lindt Cafe 259 George St Sydney City (02) 9017 5400
Yep, this is the same cafe as above just different location. As I said before the coffee is consistent among the cafes as are the chocolates and other sweets available.
Lindt Cafe Shop 104 -105 Cockle Bay Wharf (02) 9267 8064
The Lindt Cafe is in a good spot if you’ve been sightseeing in Darling Harbour and need a break and a quick jolt to get you back out exploring. Read the Martin Place Cafe description for more details.
Mecca Cafe 67 King St Sydney City
This cafe is properly named as you will see a line for coffee at all times of the day. It’s located in a very small space, street level of the Grace Hotel. Staying close by or working nearby? You will soon be one of Mecca’s regulars has it only takes once to get hooked to the coffee here.
Pablo’s Vice Corner of Crown & Goulburn Street, Darlinghurst (04)14 648 174
If Surry Hills is Sydney’s hub for the best restaurants and bars in the city then Crown Street is the main coffee drag. Standing out among the crowd is Pablo’s Vice. Don’t worry you can’t miss the red exterior and small street stools scattered across the sidewalk. They also have a good selection of food here is you need to grab something to eat.
Piccolo Bar 6 Roslyn Street Kings Cross (02) 9368 1356
This is the “coolest” cafe in Sydney. Originally founded by an Englishman in the 1940s, it’s not just a favourite among the colourful Kings Cross crowd but has had some famous patrons from late musician Jeff Buckley and Liv Ullman to Australia’s World Famous Artist Brett Whiteley. The barista here, Vittorio Bianchi, is passionate about his cafe and the coffee and food it serves.
Single Origin Roasters 60-64 Reservoir Street Surry Hills (02) 9211 0665
Single Origin Roaster is not just popular for roasting excellent coffee, which you can purchase to take with you, but it’s also well known for the lunch menu. Here you will find good food and coffee, a relaxed vibe and the whole place has that wonderful smell of roasted coffee.
Tiger Mottle 248 Glenmore Paddington (04)0252 0516
One of my favourites in the whole city. In face, Tiger Mottle has such a great neighbourhood feel that even though I don’t live in Paddington I go there just to hang out. I know that sounds sad but trust me and go check it out. Great coffee, nice outdoor seating area, plus fireplace inside for those chilly winter days, they serve breakfast, lunch and now dinner and, the best bonus, VINYL. Yes, as in records. See, I’m telling ya, go check it out.
Toby’s Estate 81 Macleay St Potts Point (02) 8356 9264
The distinction between Potts Point and Kings Cross has always surprised me. There seems to be an invisible boundary that separates the posh Potts Point from the craziness of Kings Cross. This boundary means that just down Darlinghurst Rd, where it turns into Macleay St, you find Toby’s Estate. Sitting outside on the sidewalk here, sipping coffee and reading the newspaper, you feel miles away from Kings Cross even though it’s just a few blocks. Toby’s Estate is a larger “brand” name coffee that you will often see advertised around the city. The coffee is good and consistent. They offer some food for a quick bite to eat.
Toby’s Estate 129 Cathedral St Woolloomooloo (02) 9358 1196
Yes, same cafe as above just different location. The Woolloomooloo location is near the tunnel access to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Harbour Tunnel. It’s not far from the Domain or St Mary’s. They have food here, quick easy stuff like sandwiches and some sweets. If you’re walking from the city up to Kings Cross on William’s Street, this is a good place to stop for a break.
Vella Nero Shop 3/259-261 Clarence St Sydney (02)9268 0755
Another coffee roaster in Sydney, always a good sign that the coffee served is excellent. If you see people walking around with blue coffee takeaway cups, you’re very close to Vella Nero. Vella Nero is family owned and has that family friendly feel to it. The decor is a bit sterile but the coffee is good and the brownies are fabulous, perfect with a cappuccino.
Yellow Bistro 57 Macleay St Potts Point (02) 9357 3400
Yellow Bistro rounds out our list of top twenty best cafes in Sydney. This has all the trimmings of the posh neighbourhood Potts Point claims to be. It’s a little over priced and the service could be friendlier, so don’t expect a smile from your server. The decor has got that bohemian artsy fartsy feel and the pasties and cakes are very good.