Patricia's unassuming entrance. Photo: Harvard Wang
The opening of this blink-and-you'll-miss-it treasure created a stir. Owned by coffee king Mark Dundon, Traveller promises to be a coffee mecca like its bigger siblings, Seven Seeds and Brother Baba. Down a lane from old-school Pellegrini's, the caravan-like bar offers coffees from Seven Seeds seasonal blend, and maybe a Finca Yire, or a batch brew filter from Colombia. Barista Jos Turner presides over this mini empire with bites from Brioche by Philip and Gracious and Delicious caneles.
Details: 2/14 Crossley Street, city, sevenseeds.com.au/seeds/traveller.
The caravan-like Traveller.
Mario Simeone planned to set up an Italian-style espresso bar for years. His dreams came true four months ago with this moody little wood and black number. A bicycle hangs from the ceiling and another is parked by the curved wall. Starting with no seats inside, Simeone recently relented with a couple of stools, plus there's nice pavement seating. Allpress supremo blend coffee is taken seriously and guest beans might be Brazil Mogiana. Expect paninis and pizzas for lunch with biscotti.
Moody: inside Sbriga.
Details: Shop 3, 280 King Street (walk up Little Lonsdale Street), sbriga.com.au
The aptly named Tom Thumb.
Dark-suited businessmen rub shoulders with trendy types at this tiny but aptly named cafe. Downstairs is standing room mainly, with two stools hotly contested. Lachlan Ward took the reins of this four-month-old cafe at Cup weekend and the coffee is now Sensory Lab's seasonal espresso with maybe a Costa Rica El Centro single origin as an alternative. The food side of things is covered by Matt Forbes cakes. Upstairs there's limited seating for those who want to linger but standing and socialising works better at the bar where you're part of the action.
Details: 53 Flinders Lane, city
Subway coffee booth Cup of Truth. Photo: Harvard Wang
They've been queuing out the door since Bowen Holden opened Patricia, one of the early standing-room-only cafes, almost two years ago. Holden honed his skills at Seven Seeds and sources the best beans from the likes of Market Lane, Small Batch and his alma mater. Patricia is a long, bright space with three lovely, old windows and a line of newspaper racks at the back. The pace is fast and furious, with free sparkling water. Order black, white or filter but don't mention the cappuccino word (it's banned).
Details: Patricia, 493 Little Bourke Street (enter via Little William), city, patriciacoffee.com.au
Cup of Truth
This New York-style coffee booth, the original of the species, has been brewing coffee in the Degraves underpass since the 1950s. Courtney Joel came on board four years ago and with partner Jon Freeman decided to focus on specialty coffee for caffeine-starved commuters. Definitely no seats for lounging, it's all go every morning from 6.30am as they crank up their La Marzocco machine and custom-house blend of Axil beans. The fresh pastries are by Matt Forbes.
Details: 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway, city, cupoftruth.com.au