What’s a morning without coffee? In a city of coffee snobs (guilty!), we have sky-high standards for our brews – and our baristas work their magic behind shiny espresso machines to meet them every single day. Whether you live in the CBD, commute there for work, or spend your weekends shopping up a storm, every Sydneysider needs a go-to coffee stop. From Circular Quay to Hyde Park and Haymarket, there are plenty of places for latte lovers and flat-white fans to choose from.
On your next coffee break, stroll over to one of the Sydney CBD’s best coffee shops. Some are tiny takeaway counters and some are sit-down spots, but they’ll all satisfy your caffeine craving.
Tucked down an alleyway in the CBD, Marlowe’s Way is a New York-style café-come-bar. During the daylight hours, the cosy coffee shop is known for its sweet, smooth house blend. It’s called ‘Bankistan’ (named for the banks in the area), and is roasted by Little Marionette. When your steaming cup of joe arrives, look for an ‘M’ on your spoon or takeaway cup – if you find one, you’ll score a second coffee for free.
Cnr Tank Stream Way & Bridge Lane, Sydney
An icon on Sydney’s specialty coffee scene, Mecca is known for its brilliant beans. The city location is sleek and buzzing every day of the week thanks to its single origin blends, which they’ll brew however you like – think siphon, cold-drip, filter or espresso. If you can’t get to King St, Mecca coffee is also served at Cross Eatery, Knick Knack and Restaurant Hubert.
67 King Street, Sydney
Down a laneway in Circular Quay, this hole-in-the-wall café serves up flawless cups of coffee. It roasts its own silky-smooth, rich blend in-house (called Milk Man), and offers single origin beans from guest roasters. It doesn’t matter what blend you order; you can expect it to be full-bodied and delicious. If you’re peckish, nab a table in the industrial-chic space.
10-14 Bulletin Place, Sydney
On King Street, this coffee shop boasts Instagram-worthy interiors. Its two shiny La Marzocco coffee machines pump out the café’s house blend: a full-bodied, balanced espresso with notes of cocoa and vanilla. There’s a selection of single origins, as well as a pour-over bar for filter fanatics. Hungry? Get the tartine with sliced egg, shaved parmesan and truffle oil, or a croissant from Penny Fours.
40 King Street, Sydney
In a prime position on Castlereagh Street, the specialty roaster churns out hundreds of coffees every day, including the Trailblazer Blend, a bright, fragrant blend used for espressos and black coffees. Milky coffees more your thing? They’ve got that covered, too. While you’re there, dig into a toastie, golden brown and full of cheesy goodness, or the truffled egg salad and bacon bun.
161 Castlereagh Street, Sydney
From the high ceilings and turquoise tones to the artisan, award-winning coffee, no detail has been missed. The selection of beans is vast and changes regularly, so your best bet is to scan the staff favourites – known as the “crew’s brews” – on the chalkboard menu. There’s filtered coffee, or an eight-hour cold-drip coffee served over ice. Or, you can go back-to-basics and get an espresso, ristretto or latte.
Shop 3, 259 Clarence Street, Sydney
Art meets coffee at Klink, an oasis on the ground floor of the Gaffa Gallery. If you like your coffee strong, you’re in the right place. The haunt’s house blend comes courtesy of Golden Cobra, and it’s a rich, syrupy roast that’s dark and delicious. sitting inside and (sneaking glimpses of the artwork) is ideal, when you’re in a rush, the grab-and-go takeaway window is a godsend.
Gaffa Gallery, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney
The CBD sister of the Surry Hills roaster, Single O is on top of the game. With a five-metre-long tall bar, you can choose to sit and savour your coffee, or sip it standing. Opt for the Reservoir blend or the single origin special of the week, and enjoy it straight up or with milk. If the geisha beans are on the menu, get those – they’re really rare.
89 York Street, Sydney
In the Strand Arcade, this espresso bar usually has a line of people happily waiting for their fix. The owner (who also founded Coffee Alchemy in Marrickville), Hazel de los Reyes, is an award-winning roaster, and it shows in the quality of coffee as well as the many brewing methods on offer. When it’s your turn to order, ask for an espresso. Velvety-smooth with a thick crema on top, it’s incredible.
The Strand Arcade, Shop 11, 412-414 George Street, Sydney
Just minutes from Wynyard Station, Palomino Espresso have been serving the best brew on the block for years. The coffee comes courtesy of Morgan Coffee Roasters, and it’s aromatic, smooth and hits the spot. To learn more about the techniques, head to the tasting session, held on Tuesdays from 2-3pm – the iced coffee with maple syrup alone is worth it.
Shop 1, 61 York Street, Sydney