The café space is beautiful but Skittle Lane ain’t just about Instagram-worthy interiors – these guys are dishing out full-bodied brews and roasting their own beans. Two large steely silver La Marzocco coffee machines pump out espressi, which are the exact right way to kick start your morning: rich, gentle and very well made. CBD workers know this too so there's a small line snaking out into the adjacent lobby. Their pourover is worth an order too – on our visit it's an Ethiopia Abaya that's got soft, fruity notes.
At Campos, a cramped corner of coffee-crazed Sydney, the baristas are as much a part of the action as the black magic elixirs that draw connoisseur crowds from all over Sydney. Three men in black - half man, half machine - move as one to background jazz, arms thrusting, wrists snapping, hands thwacking like trip hammers and torsos twisting with the effort of finding and grinding, tamping and clamping. "Speed, calm, passion, power," says owner Will Young, who founded Campos seven years back. Young is a believer that the perfect coffee is "40 per cent bean, 40 per cent barista and 20 per cent machine - the ultimate aim for all baristas is to make coffee taste as good as it smells."
Roaster Toby Smith is a Sydney coffee alchemist. On top of the café, there's also a coffee school, teaching Sydney how to make the perfect coffee. You'll also find cafés in Chippendale and Barangaroo and interstate. Their Woolloomooloo blend is a go-to for many cafés across the city.
Mecca have long been the kingpins of the Sydney coffee game and you'll find their beans in their own café outposts and a handful of other excellent coffee spots dotted across the city. The beans are roasted in Alexandria in their vintage German roaster born in 1957 that produces a rich, deep, melodic flavour.
There's a reason this roastery/café on Reservoir Street is still one of lower Surry Hills' most popular spot for a pre-work brekky meeting. For starters, there's the coffee – no surprise, given the spot is HQ for the roasters supplying some of Sydney's top cafés. The team here serve a house blend they call Reservoir and it's a doozy: sweet, clean and light – perfect for a milk-based morning cup.
This Annandale café is the size of a shoebox. At first glance, it’s nought but a couple of tables and a banquette lining big open windows, and a coffee machine in the corner. Out the back there’s a room taken up with a massive roaster – the heart of the business. In a city where coffee is almost as important as breathing, this is pretty much a must in any good café.
Sydney is a coffee town. People here love to throw themselves about declaring they cannot possibly function without a shot each morning, worshipping their daily dose with the kind of breathless reverence usually reserved for their gods and Radiohead. And this is just for your run-o-the-mill cup of joe. We cannot begin to imagine the hyperbole that will be unleashed when people get a taste of the coffee at Gypsy Espresso in Potts Point. Seasoned caffeinators will be wrapping their feet in barbed wire to crawl on hands and knees, across deserts, in eight feet of snow for the kind of spine-tinglingly good coffee they are dishing up here. You might remember the little side street café from its former stint as a Toby’s Estate satellite, but now the beans are produced in house and boy, are they onto a winner. Here the coffee reaches that mythical union where scent and flavour come together as one, the temperature maintained under beautifully worked milk with a touch of latte art that indicates skill more than flair.