There’s nothing worse than fetching up to a cafe with a coffee craving that’s ten seconds away from a splitting headache, only to discover you’ll need to find an ATM before you can achieve your caffeine fix. That would never happen at these places. Not only do they make delicious brews, zesty espressos, and perfectly velvety lattes, but also they’re all champion businesses that have no card minimum.
Neighbourhood is the new café from barista-extraordinaire Sean McManus – what this man doesn’t know about coffee, isn’t worth knowing. It's a teeny-tiny space - just a hole in the wall with a few benches outside. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in attention to detail. The flat white hits you with a puff (foam?) of smoke – but not the bitter, burnt kind. Here it's a clean, sweet sort of smoke. The espresso is super-clean, chocolatey and so blissfully citrussy and sour it's almost like eating a lemon drop. Now that's how to wake up in the morning. Then there are the kick-ass croissants. Don’t leave without trying one.
Artificer is not about cake. It's not about sandwiches or even a nice cup of tea. Artificer is about one thing: coffee. That's all they sell. Co-owners Shoji Sasa and Dan Yee are sourcing the beans themselves and roasting them onsite. When you go in they'll ask you "What do you feel like?". Turn that question around and ask them what's good – you might be surprised. We try a Bolivian iced coffee cherry brew (the Sparkling Cascara). It’s steeped "like tea" and the result is totally delicious. The interior has those Japanese-Nordic feels and they've got hip-hop on rotation. It all reflects the vibe of this place, which is very chilled.
You'll find Workshop Espresso on the corner of one of the busiest intersections in the city, surrounded by a throng of office types who are desperate for a cup of joe to get them through the day. The warm wood and dark walls are a welcome antidote to the glass and white plastic of your standard CBD coffee spot, but it's not the décor that has the baristas at Workshop frantically grinding, tamping and extracting all day. The single origin coffee here is top notch no matter how you take it – on a hot day the iced coffee delivers life-giving caffeine and sugar at deliciously icy temperatures – and if you need a little something to accompany it, the glass cabinet houses beautiful sugar crusted donuts and cannoli to test your willpower.
Chippenburg Coffee is a small, 22-seat basement café, which uses a rotation of five single origin beans – a Brazilian Rainforest Alliance coffee one week, an Ethiopian Limu the next. They also sell cold-drip by the bottle – a fatigue-busting dose of seven concentrated shots – that you can get instore or via Chippenburg’s subscription service. But if you’re planning to get some sleep in the near future, skip the bottle and ask for two shots with ice – a splash of milk is optional. The coffee is incredibly smooth, mildly acidic, and actually quite sweet, so it’s a good gateway drink if you’re considering ditching the dairy. Of course, there’s also espresso, made with Allpress, which produces a solid long black or a macchiato with a full-bodied finish and nice crema.
Say hello to the cutest little café and milk bar. Yes, Daisy’s, we’re talking to you, with your musk-pink door, multi-coloured dining room and dessert-themed mural. The coffee, supplied by Marrickville’s Double Roasters, is definitely worth a nudge. It’s a gutsy blend you could almost eat with a knife and fork. Daisy’s also serve up classic milkshakes, which come in regular and kids’ sizes, as well as a spiders and cold pressed juices. Hungry? Why not grab a veggie tradie roll, a zucchini parmy burger or a poached chicken wrap? And don’t even get us started on the desserts…