Devoted coffee enthusiasts will be well catered for in Sydney, easily one of the most dynamic coffee-service cities on the planet. Here is a city whose passion for coffee has yet to wane over a century, cultivating a diverse café culture of premier coffee houses, knowledgeable roasters and passionate vendors keen to offer their take on the classic brew.
If you share in this passion for the bean and like nothing more than sampling regional coffee on your travels, join us we explore Sydney’s renowned coffee and café culture — discovering some of the city’s best cafés and coffee shops along the way.
Built On Coffee — A History of Sydney’s Distinct Café Culture
Australia, as a whole, is one of the world’s great coffee lovers, with the average Aussie consuming 2.9kg of coffee a year. Small wonder, then, that the country’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city has adopted coffee as its favourite tipple over the decades, with Sydney-siders now enjoying a special relationship with this aromatic brew.
Sydney’s love of coffee stems from the 18th century, when the First Fleet brought coffee beans to Australia’s shores. This, coupled with the arrival of immigrants from Italy, France, Turkey and Greece during the 19th century, led to the very first coffee houses opening in Sydney — giving rise to the city’s now ardent café culture.
It wasn’t until the 1950s, however, that Sydney’s real passion for coffee began to flourish. Around this time, European migrants brought high-quality espresso coffee to Australia’s shores, and Sydney natives quickly fell in love with new, richer brews like espresso, latte and cappuccino.
Since then, Sydney’s love affair with coffee has taken flight, with thousands of cafés, coffee houses and independent roasters emerging across the city. The locals share a collective admiration for coffee, and favour independent vendors over large chains — so you won’t find a Starbucks on every street corner.
Sydney itself is prime for leisurely café visits, with a sunny climate that’s perfect for savouring food and drink alfresco. On a warm day, the locals like nothing more than to head down to their local coffee shop to enjoy a cup or two of their favourite roast — why not join them, and immerse yourself in the city’s authentic café culture?
The Best Cafes to Visit in Sydney
If you’re keen to experience Sydney’s renowned café culture, and try out some of the city’s finest coffee grinds, it pays to do a little research to find the very best cafés for your taste and budget.
Sydney is home to over a thousand cafés and coffee shops, with some taking a more devoted and specialist approach to coffee than others. So, if you value the taste, flavour and aroma of your daily coffee, here we showcase five of the best cafés where you can experience Sydney’s passion for coffee.
After establishing itself as one of the best cafés in Sydney’s trendy Surry Hills neighbourhood (located minutes by bus from the Botanic Gardens), Le Monde joined forces with local roasting specialists, 5 Senses Coffee, to enhance its coffee culture. This intimate café is now one of Sydney’s most respected coffee houses, offering a unique blend of international roasts and some of the best coffee machines and brewing equipment on the market.
Not only does Le Monde take an attentive approach to its resident coffees, it boasts an affordable menu of local eats, including an extensive breakfast and brunch board. The coffee itself is reasonably affordable too, and there is a changing selection of weekly beans of varying origins.
Pablo & Rusty’s
Established in 2006, Pablo & Rusty’s quickly found its feet amid Sydney’s thriving coffee movement thanks to its unwavering commitment to high-grade coffee and a transparent approach to ethically-sourced products. The venture now has six locations across Sydney, but its expansion has in no way dented its approach — retaining its status as one of the city’s best-loved independent roasters and coffee shops.
The success of Pablo & Rusty’s lies in its ever-changing roster of single origin coffee beans, all of which are ethically sourced in line with seasonal trends and demand. All of P&R’s coffee beans are roasted in small batches, better to retain and maximise the flavour of each and every cup.
Gumption coffee house can be found amid the bustle of Sydney’s central business district, providing office workers and tourists alike with some of the finest coffee in the city. The café is an offshoot of Coffee Alchemy, a renowned independent roaster and coffee house in Marrickville, whose owners possess a decade’s experience in roasting the finest, organically-sourced coffee beans. Gumption’s beans are attentively sourced from local farmers, each batch selected by hand to ensure maximum taste and flavour — for the perfect cup of coffee in the centre of the city.
Unlike other cafés in Sydney, Gumption only deals in coffee, making it a favourite among serious coffee fans. If you choose to pay Gumption a visit, we’d recommend the ristretto for a bold pick-me-up between sightseeing stops.
Paramount Coffee Project
The Paramount Coffee Project has brought something new to Sydney’s long-established coffee culture. It sources its own organic coffee beans, sends them out to guest roasters each month, before serving up the results. This unique approach has won the Project an impassioned fan base, many of whom are locals keen to try new roasts and flavours. The café sources seasonal beans where possible, and its roasting process means there’s always tempting new variations to try.
Putting aside its coffee, the Paramount Coffee Project is a wonderful place to sit and enjoy a cup of Sydney’s finest. PCP’s founders have invested time into making their café as welcoming as possible, with stone surfaces mingling with wooden fixtures to create a calm and welcoming ambience — small wonder most patrons aren’t in a hurry to leave.
Mecca is an apt name for this independent chain of Sydney coffee shops, whose heavenly roasts attract caffeine pilgrims from far and wide. Four Mecca cafés exist across the city, and each has become a hub for devoted coffee lovers keen to sample the chain’s latest innovations in java.
Mecca’s founders are on something of a personal pilgrimage to find the very finest coffee beans from across the world, sourcing their coffee from regions they’ve visited personally. This has lent the Mecca chain an eclectic menu of international coffee beans, each selected to offer the perfect balance of texture, flavour and aroma. The company roasts all of its beans in Sydney using a vintage German roaster, and packets of their coffee are available to buy should you want to recreate a cup at home.
Coffee devotee or not, Sydney’s café culture is one of the highlights of this enriching city — providing the chance to eat and drink like a local. For your chance to visit the city in total luxury, take a look at our escorted tours in Australia or call us on 0808 159 6409 for more help and information.
Image credits: Jamieanne, Simon Wright