Like the mystical wardrobe to Narnia, Sample Coffee is a cupboard-sized portal to a whole new dimension of caffeinated bliss. Owner Reuben Mardan got his start in the coffee biz roasting at Single Origin and Mecca before finally branching out on his own to bring the beans to the people.
This Surry Hills coffee nook serves up excellent espresso care of the Pacemaker house blend that they punch out double time on two coffee machines – your standard café workhorse plus a lever press machine that produces a softer, more delicately flavoured shot.
The house blend is roasted by Mecca and according to Mardan, what makes it special is a combination of two different coffee processes. “It’s from a single farm in El Salvador and 50 per cent of the beans use a natural process where they are picked and dried in the cherry form, and the other half is washed so that it’s dried just as a seed.”
In addition to the Pacemaker, each week they have a showcase coffee. “Coming from a roasting background we were always getting to try all these different coffees and so when I was setting up the shop I don’t want to lose that excitement. There’s quite a few really good roasters in Australia at the moment, so the idea was to serve them up and give the customer a chance to explore the journey with us.”
Now we appreciate the appeal of an iced coffee on a sunny day as much as the next guy, but the coffee here is too good to dilute, so we say go for the affogato instead – cold, hot, sweet and nutty all at the same time.
There isn’t much in the way of edibles at Sample Coffee, so unless a feast of pastries, brownies and sugar- crusted bomboloni – custard-filled donuts – is your idea of a well-rounded meal, the seriously hungry may need to look further afield.
For a tiny café, Sample Coffee goes big on vibe care of a killer soundtrack. The playlists are loosely themed each day. Jazz, blues and soul make regular appearances and Friday mornings start with some Latin and move to hip hop for the weekend run-up. You can’t fault their system of "Anything, as long as it’s good."