We work in them, we play in them, we practically live in them. Great cafes have a special place in our lives, and great coffee has a very special place in our hearts.
The third annual edition of the Good Cafe Guide charts an increasingly professional industry, and an increasingly competitive business. As one coffee roaster said, ‘if you’re not doing something better than everyone else, you’re not in the race’.
That means we’re seeing more attention paid to the quality of the green bean; more personal, imaginative, small-scale businesses; and more sustainable methods of milk transport and storage.
It also charts an increasingly entrenched local coffee culture. This year, we’ve found great coffee at bakeries, design stores, garden centres, bicycle shops and art galleries; on rooftops and marinas and wedged down narrow laneways. Cafe culture is spreading further south, west, and northwest than ever before, and there’s a real trend for our top chefs to open casual cafes instead of high-cost restaurants.
Talking of trends, it’s been a year of icy cold milkshakes, cream sodas, house-baked bread, handmade pickles and preserves, with spicy baked egg shashouka overtaking the beloved egg-and-bacon roll for breakfast honours. Aeropress and cold-drip are winning the new-brew race by providing different coffee experiences for different times of the day; something we’ve also learnt from the growing focus on single-origin, loose-leaf tea. Most notably, it’s been a year of the full bushranger barista beard.
As raw green bean prices rise around the world, it will inevitably affect the price of our daily cup of coffee – all the more reason, then, to make each one a special one. Big thanks to everyone in this Guide – all 347 of them – for making sure we can.
Jill Dupleix, Editor
The Sydney Morning Herald Good Cafe Guide 2013 is available in bookshops and online at smhshop.com.au for $9.99.