Best Coffee Shops in Sydney

by Greg Watkinson

Reformatory Caffeine Lab - Foveaux St, Surrey Hills

No list of great coffee Sydney is truly complete without the inclusion of Reformatory Caffeine Lab. Known for two things; serving some of the most expensive coffee in the world and an amazing decor, tribute to a coffee rewrite of Gotham’s The Joker, which must be seen to be believed. Nearly every drinker, that we know, of high end coffee in Australia has a story of being blown away by a coffee served by reformatory. Owner, Simon Jaramilo, buys some of the most prized and highest scoring coffee on the planet; from NinetyPlus to Project Origin, coffees at astronomical cup scores are an everyday occurrence at the Lab. A stone’s throw for Central Station makes Reformatory first stop on many of our trips to the NSW capital.

Single O  - Reservoir St, Surrey Hills

Now legendary in the specialty coffee scene of Australia, Single O’s original site still lives up to its reputation. Being one of the first specialty shops in Sydney and creating a coffee culture that has so permeated the rest of Surrey Hills, that the whole suburb has a reputation for good coffee is just incredible. This cafe has it all, excellent speed and service, great food, a large coffee menu that’s consistently delicious. Single O deserve all the praise they get; their coffee selection is vast and diverse and within the roasting community of Australia; Single O’s Green Buyer, Wendy De Jong, is revered as an absolute master of the trade. Set alongside this SIngle O’s willingness to push boundaries and innovate and you have a brand that looks just as good under the surface as it does from the outside.

Ona Coffee - Marrickville Rd, Marrickville

Famed for their absolute dominance of the ASCA (Australian Specialty Coffee Assn) competitive scene, Ona Coffee’s cafes give the everyday public a chance to experience the feeling of being a judge at a world class coffee tasting. For those of us who follow professional competitive coffee, it’s an opportunity to taste the lots that win year in, year out. Using a freezer to store coffee’s long term means their offering reads more like a wine list, with customers able to taste the same lot across the years or a number of coffees that've interested them, regardless of when they were harvested. Ona operates at an absolute professional’s standard and so the customer service here is excellent, often one on one with the barista; which makes for an unforgettable experience truly representative of the goals of ASCA towards coffee service.

Mecca Coffee - Bourke Rd, Alexandria

One of our favourite roasters in Sydney, Mecca’s in roastery cafe is an incredible spot to stop for both a cup of coffee and breakfast. The large open space will feel immediately familiar and is a great place to bring friends who may be a little intimidated by the face to face nature of Reformatory or Ona. Mecca’s reputation for immaculate coffee roasting is well reflected in the site and easily perceived in the cup. There’s a special magic and a common sense appeal to drinking coffee where it’s roasted; it always tastes as good as it can, and when the ceiling is set so high that’s a great thing.


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Image by Jesse Hammer

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