Sydneysiders know we are incredibly lucky for many reasons, not the least of them the cafes within our city. This year our team of 30 reviewers visited more than 300 cafes and coffee bars across 107 Sydney suburbs. We visited decades-old cafes and some that have just thrown open their doors. The result is a guide to Sydney’s best cafes with a strong focus on coffee. The top cafes are awarded one, two or three cups – but just to be included in the guide is an achievement and an endorsement.
Sydney's coffee industry gets better, more diverse and more experimental every year. We can sip a traditional, dark Italian-style espresso; a beautifully made caffe latte; a tooth-achingly sweet Vietnamese coffee; or a rich, black, ibrik-brewed Turkish coffee. And we are more intrigued than ever with "third-wave" coffee: filter brewing, from cold drip to pourover and siphon-brewed, as well as single origin and single estate beans.
And we’ll drink it everywhere – overlooking the ocean, in art galleries, in cosy basements and squeezy terraces; in shopping arcades, warehouses, parks and laneways.
Great cafes aren’t just about coffee, though, they’re part of our daily routine. For those of us who don’t visit cafes daily (or, erm, several times a day), they’re places to visit as a special treat. They’re where we go to relax or to be energised, to enjoy a quiet, solitary cup and a book or to share time, and perhaps a meal, with friends.
They’re also about fantastic food: in these budget- and time-pressed days, Australians unsurprisingly dine out at cafes more than anywhere else.
You are, of course, free to use the book whichever way you would like, but we do encourage you to try something new. If you only drink milk-based coffee, try a syrupy espresso; if you’re always ordering takeaway, take 10 minutes to sit down and enjoy your next cup; if you’re always in cafes with friends, treat yourself to a solitary experience. Go out and explore the fascinating variety of filter brews, and don’t be afraid to talk to your barista.
Georgia Waters, Editor
The Sydney Morning Herald Good Cafe Guide 2014 is available in selected bookshops and online at smhshop.com.au for $9.99.